I am a grief professional but I am also a bereaved parent and daughter. In 2008 my 7 year old son Brogan was diagnosed with an inoperable, incurable brain tumor called DIPG. Brogan was initially given a few months to live but through experimental treatments and chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital he lived for 4 years until his death in 2012.
Most recently I have experienced the death of my dad after a long journey with Alzheimer’s. I understand the anticipatory grief that accompanies a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The loss of a loved one from Alzheimer’s is certainly unique and brings many conflicting emotions from relief to regret and everything in between. Although my grief experience is unique to me, I understand how life can be forever changed by the death of a loved one. I also understand how important it is to companion with someone in the midst of their darkest days when just getting out of bed each day can be an overwhelming chore.
I work with people who are grieving the loss of a loved one from death….but also those who have been diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness, those suffering the loss of relationships, independence, career or loss of community from moving to a new place and those dealing with the loss of a beloved pet. Life is full of transitions. Many of them bring up feelings of grief. Many people end up feeling isolated, like the world is going on around you and you’re just standing still, questioning whether you’re going crazy or having a mental health issue because you’re experiencing feelings you’ve never felt before.
Sometimes people need someone to talk to who gets grief and who can validate what the process is like because it can feel so abnormal. When you’re ready, there is the peace of finding your purpose; searching for who you once were, creating who you are now.
What would it be like to integrate this loss into your life, to learn to live peaceably side by side with it?
Photograph by Melissa Barrick Creative Co.