It is an honor to share my journey through grief with you. Although my story is that ~ my story~ it is important for me to acknowledge that many people shared in the losses that I share here. Each of us had a different experience and each of us grieved and mourned in a unique way. While I empathize and truly shared in the pain of others who were also affected by these tragedies, I can only speak for myself and share with you how I felt, what I went through, and how I survived the journey and came through to the other side. I learned from myself, my children, and my family and friends how the journey of grief affected them. I continue to learn from those that I work with professionally and from my friends who have experienced a loss in their life. Nonetheless, all that I really know is what I came to know about me….
In 1979, while pregnant with my second daughter, my brother-in-law was murdered. He was 23 years old. My husband’s parents were deceased, so it left my husband and I and his younger brother to deal with the aftermath. In 1986, my father was tragically killed in a trucking accident at the age of 54 years. His “18-wheeler” went over the side of a mountain killing both him and his girlfriend. His sudden and unexpected death left many unanswered questions for me and my siblings and for our mother who had been married to him for 33 years. His estate was massive (with debt) and the energy it took to unravel that mess left little reserve for me to work through my feelings of sorrow. I barely felt as though I was on solid ground again when my husband (a police officer ~ 37 years old), my brother (39 years old), and one of my dearest friends (43 years old) – all died from brain injuries within 18 months of one another and only a mere 2 years after my father’s passing. Their untimely deaths caused me to plummet into a world of sorrow and despair. While these were profound deaths for me to work through, my life has also been peppered with the deaths of grandparents, other family members, friends and acquaintances. Another significant loss was that of my mother in 2003.
I learned something about myself each time someone died. I learned how I attempted to dismiss my pain and sorrow. I learned how I wouldn’t allow myself to feel what I needed to feel for fear of taking away attention from others (e.g. my sister-in-law, niece, nephews and mother after my brother died). I learned that in attempting to sidestep my grief after my brother’s death that I would, and did, become ill. I learned that the way I was doing “it” didn’t work. I didn’t know what would work, but I knew I had to do “it” differently. Soon after this realization, my husband was seriously injured in a police motorcycle crash and then died at home five months later. At 34 years old and as a mother of two young children, I realized that I had to make a choice – I could give up or I could somehow find hope to reconnect spiritually and bring meaning back into my life. I chose to fight. In doing so, I discovered a powerful inner strength and wisdom. Moreover, I healed my broken heart and I survived.
My survival ignited a passion to serve and help others to heal their hearts. I have spent the past 20 years dedicating my life to learning, developing skills, and more importantly to helping others heal their broken hearts.
My education includes a Diploma in Professional Counseling and a Certificate in Death and Grief Studies. I also have been educated and trained in the following:
· Children and Grief
· Violence & Abuse Prevention
· Support Group Facilitator Training
· Suicide Intervention Skills
· Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies
· Bereavement Skills
· Complicated Mourning
I have written numerous books and magazine articles. My next book is titled Life Losses: Healing for a Broken Heart. For more information on this book, or to be notified of its upcoming release, please join my mailing list.
Leaving my husband’s funeral with our children, Dale (10) and Myriah (12).
My husband’s funeral on October 30, 1990. Over 800 people attended, including nearly 300 police officers from across the country, to honor his 17 years of service in the Royal Canadian Mounted