Last week, I spoke on a best practices panel at the ICCFA / PLPA conference. Standing behind the podium, I silently centered myself and asked for spirit’s assistance. I had butterflies in my stomach for the first few minutes, then as I spoke about the grief coaching, the passion, intensity I feel about something so dear to my heart poured through me. As I looked out into the audience, I saw people taking notes and nodding to one another. Information being received. Changing the way we help people grieving from pet loss, one powerpoint at a time! I felt really good about the service I provided. Fast forward to a week later, I was on the phone with a colleague who was there at my talk. I asked if he had any specific feedback for me- the only comment he had to add besides it being informative and a great presentation was to share more about my experience and what brought me here.
Last night, I went to a networking event and met a group of amazing women. I heard from several who shared their story and was inspired by their ability to weave stories from their past into who they are today. When it came time to introduce myself and the work I do, I gave my elevator pitch but did not really go into why I am a grief and loss coach. At the end of the event, I walked out to the car with one of the attendees and shared a bit about the cancer. When I got home, I realized I was finally ready to tell my story. I’ve been described many times as resillient. My husband Michael tells me I am amazing. I tell myself he is biased. Last night, coming home, my heart blew wide open.
Today, I feel vulnerable. I thought about my mom today, as a friend is home with her newborn and her family.
I never had that with Kayman. My mother committed suicide the week I found out I was pregnant. Whoa, that was a loaded sentence. How do you share something like that at a networking event without it sounding like a loaded gun?
So is being told I was never going to be able to have children because of the cancer. After being told I should have saved my eggs. After reading I had 15% chance of survival from ewings sarcoma. After After being left by my college boyfriend because I was bald and sick. The tape keeps rewinding—while I am not the sum of these events, I AM.
Despite all of the losses I’ve had in my life, I am still the optimist, the cup half full, to see that pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, and a new door opens.
So if you are reading this and experiencing a loss, reach out to someone and share your story. See if you can separate the pain from the suffering. On the days I have a really bad migraine, or when I can’t lift Kayman with one arm, I allow myself to have a moment as I am human and then I let the thoughts float through. I can see the gift in the cancer. What is the gift in the losses you may have experienced?