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.