I think the title of my first book will be, “Surviving 101 losses and still standing” or “Grief Expert without the degree.” My earliest memories of loss are the death of my pet gerbil and saying goodbye to my friend Judy who moves out-of-state.
As I get older, I experience the changes and losses that come when moving from grade school, middle school, high school and beyond – all expected, yet somewhat alarming.
At the tender age of 13, I say goodbye to my sisters – one who gets married and the other, who leaves for greener pastures. On one hand, it feels awesome to have the bedroom to myself and there is no one left to tease me or treat me like the “punk kid,” but I feel isolated and suddenly alone.
There are the typical heart breaks that come with young love and the realization that my love of dance will only be a lifelong hobby, not a vocation. There are injuries that need rehabilitation and adjusting to limitations, changing jobs and the loss that comes from living with addiction in my household.
Grief becomes strong and real when I am looking at the barrel of a shotgun in my side. I’ve walked into a local drug store on my way to my first job and a masked man pushes me onto the floor during a robbery. Loss of safety after a trauma now has a name – insecurity and vulnerability.
Significant losses increase as I mourn the death of loved ones and as family and friends are diagnosed with life threatening diseases. I lose a child to miscarriage and later almost lose my life delivering another.
The sudden death of my 36-year-old husband leaves me in shock and nearly broken, the later losses covering the gamut of change. Loss of the title “Mrs.,” loss of my perceived future, of hopes and dreams now ended. Some family members and friends are unwilling to travel with me through the darkness – another byproduct of grief, another loss.
Might this be why I struggle with the concept of credentials? No, I don’t have a license to practice counseling those who are dealing with loss; I’ve been too busy grieving! No, I don’t have any letters behind my name except R.N., yet I AM A GRIEF EXPERT – my best credentials? L.I.F.E.
Are you a grief expert? What LIFE credentials do you have? I’d love to hear your story.
Maybe you don’t have the credentials to help others but you certainly have the experience. I hadn’t really thought about being in an armed robbery as a type of grief. Wow! Does that mean I have one more experience to add to my list of losses in my life? I too have lost too many people I love. I’ve also suffered 5 pregnancy losses (including one at 16 weeks). And I almost forgot about the armed holdup in the bank I was working in. Maybe we don’t have the credentials to help others but we are certainly ‘fellow travellers’ with those on the same road. 🙂
I often wonder why some people become overwhelmed by things that happen to them and others seem to carry on without a scratch. I fall somewhere in between. No one can get through life without loss – I, too, have had pets die, had siblings move out, was held up at gunpoint (in my own home) changed schools, changed jobs, moved to new cities, lost friends and family, etc. For the most part, I’ve always thought of it as part of life and never thought about “change” as “loss”. At some point you have to keep moving forward and live your life – but I also love talking with 20-somethings and give them the advice I wish someone would have given me 30+ years ago. My life experience seems to be good for something!
It seems to me that those who have had the number of losses we have had seem to learn how to continue on through life. Somehow knowing that they will survive whatever comes because they have before? I think our life experiences shared with those younger can be most helpful. Thx for sharing Pam!
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Seasoned grief expertise credentials
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Thanks for including my site in your post, much appreciated! Good luck with your efforts