Reflections On A Life-Changing Journey

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I first encountered Grief Recovery when my mentor D took the class about three years ago.  D had survived some of the most heartbreaking things a person can experience and was determined to heal and finally move forward, no matter what the cost.   As you can imagine, working through her heartbreak was quite hard for her.  One day, I remember her calling and telling me that she was headed to the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack!  That’s how devastating her grief was.  However, in spite of the pain, D finished the class courageously.

Before Grief Recovery, I remember D being a woman tortured by nightmares, painful memories, and bipolar-like mania and depression.  After Grief Recovery, it was obvious that the storm inside her had subsided.  In the years since, D has continued to face more devastating losses and hardship.  Amazingly though, despite her ongoing struggles, she has continued to morph into a more grounded, fearless, loving, confident, and resilient woman.  She truly is a warrior and diamond in the rough!

Shortly after D finished her class, a few of our mutual friends decided to take it too.  They started Grief Recovery filled with fear and despair, and right before my eyes, changed into people full of confidence and hope.  It was, and still is, amazing!  Oddly enough though, even after witnessing such change in my friends, I didn’t think Grief Recovery was something that could, or would apply to me and my struggles.  I finally decided to take a class myself about a year later, but it took some really crappy circumstances to get me there.  In hindsight, I’m sure it was all part of a greater, divinely-orchestrated purpose.

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In February 2014, I was hit by a car riding my bicycle and rushed to the ER.  A few weeks later, I was cleared to go back to work, and the same day I returned, my boss decided to cut my hours from full-time to part-time.  I was barely making ends meet as it was, and not only had I just painfully injured my leg and missed more than two full weeks of work, but I ended up receiving only one day’s worth of disability pay because I hadn’t been employed long enough to receive any more.  Needless to say, I felt cripplingly overwhelmed.

Once I was cleared to work again, I also started seeing a chiropractor for my leg.  At the end of one of my chiropractic visits, I found a flyer for a Grief Recovery class.  The class was going to start a few weeks later and take place at the office!  Talk about divine timing!  I was so desperate for help and relief that I decided to check it out, even though I had some reservations.  I didn’t think I could achieve the results I had seen in my friends, but I decided to commit to attending every class and doing the work.

As the final class concluded, my teacher informed the other students and I that we were going to celebrate our achievement the following week with a group dinner.  During the dinner, my classmates, teacher, invited guests, and I all ate good food and enjoyed each others’ company.  Once everyone was finished with their meals, my teacher stood up and recognized us with certificates for completing the class.  Then, she invited us to share a bit about our experience.  I walked into that dinner still skeptical, because I had not yet had any huge revelations or experienced a radical transformation, but when my turn came to share, I stood up, and burst into tears.  I felt free and relieved in an indescribable way.  It seemed as though, all at once, the profundity of what Grief Recovery had done for me manifested in front of my eyes.

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Before becoming equipped with the correct information and tools needed to successfully overcome my grief, I saw myself through the lens of my pain and devastation.  Seeing myself through that lens led me to believe that I was a broken, lesser, person who deserved to suffer, and that I had to pretend to be normal in order to receive love and care.  Grief Recovery, however, taught me that I was, in fact, truly a normal person having normal and natural reactions to my losses.  So, when I stood up to share, I felt like a real and unpretentious human being for the first time.

Once the anger, sadness, and fear left my heart, a greater hope and love than I’d ever experienced filled the empty space.  I realized that Grief Recovery had given my heart a voice and helped me know how to communicate what was most important to me.  As my heart began to speak, I started uncovering the truth about myself.  That night at the dinner, the pieces I’d discovered fell into place, and I found a game-changing truth.  All that critical judgment, isolation, and pain that had been distorting my internal lens finally cleared away, and what I saw was a strong, loving, smart, and beautiful woman.

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There was no way I could have predicted or prepared for what happened to me during that first celebration dinner.  It was like my eyes, ears, and heart opened after being shut for years.  Nothing in my life has been the same since.  Just over a week ago, I hosted a celebration dinner for the students of my pilot Grief Recovery class.  I was excited to hear them share their experiences, and hopeful that they might have had life-changing transformations similar to mine.  What happened instead was that I, once again, left changed.

The Grief Recovery Method® teaches that the only person who knows exactly how you feel after your loss is you!  Everyone grieves differently, because every person is unique and individual.  If you are to discover and become complete with your emotional losses, it is essential that you understand and accept this about yourself and others.  In fact, this truth is so essential to Grief Recovery, that at the beginning of each class, all students and the teacher make a commitment to be their unique, individual selves.

Well, this fact of life couldn’t have been made any clearer to me than during my celebration dinner last week.  While I was hoping, and somewhat expecting, my students to be completely changed like I was, they ended up having their own unique and individual transformations.  One of my students shared that Grief Recovery revealed to him the origins of some of his behaviors and thought patterns.  Another student shared that he now better understands how to help others and give them the dignity and respect they deserve.  One of my female students shared that she had been blind to the amount of strong, painful emotion she was keeping stored inside her, and that Grief Recovery helped her to clear it out.

None of my students burst into sobs of relief, and none of them expressed sentiments similar to mine.  Their experiences, and what they took away were unique to them.  Looking back, I am thankful they didn’t come away with the same results I did.  I’m glad they stayed true to the unique individuals they are, because, in doing so, I found out a bit more about myself!  I realized that my job as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® and teacher of the Grief Recovery Method® is to listen to and learn about my students so that I can better guide them towards finding their emotional truths.  I realized that I need to sit back and relax in awe and wonder, because being a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® entrusts me with the great privilege of hearing a person’s heart speak, possibly for the first time, and then honoring it for being brave.

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I am so, so thankful for the opportunity to walk alongside others on their Grief Recovery journeys.  This is the greatest job in the world, and one I hope to never take lightly.  As much as Grief Recovery has the power to transform and heal those who participate in the class, it also transforms and heals the teachers just as much.  If you are interested in receiving the life-changing tools Grief Recovery has to offer, I welcome and encourage you to attend an informational meeting being held at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral on August 31st at 7pm.  You can also enroll in my upcoming 8-week class here.  Come and experience the greatness of Grief Recovery.  I guarantee you will be glad you did!

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