When my son died in a violent accident just before his twelfth birthday, I was acutely aware that this was a turning point where I could become a cliché. It was possible to let grief create my life as victim/survivor or I could create a life path that honored the spirit of my son. Michael was a dynamic, loving, spiritual presence on the planet who squeezed every drop out of every moment of life.
Carving out a life for me that revolved around loss and grief seemed impossible given his presence in my world. I have to say this was not a conscious project—it took a long time to find the gifts in my grief. I did embark on a process of study in the midst of caring for my other five children that would teach me to listen to my intuition and my body and reject those things that felt inauthentic. It seemed that my son was guiding me on this course and lifting me when I fell. His presence was palpable.
I was a partner with my husband in a family business, raising a family and going to school but my soul knew I had other work to do. As the years passed, and my children grew self-sufficient, I began helping other grieving mothers see that there was light, even if only a pin-prick, in the darkness of their grief. I learned to help them become reconnected with their intuitive knowing about what was true and what was not for them personally.
When we are mated to someone who is wedded to their grief, that process is even harder. We are seen as callous as we engage in daily life in a more spiritual or meaningful way instead of surrendering to outward signs of grief. However, we have chosen the more difficult and more rewarding path of being true to our loved ones, who let us know by their energy that they don’t desire us to sacrifice our lives to their deaths. In the case of the loss of a child, this is a powerfully courageous act. Turning the extraordinary energy of grief to building a life of hope is possible.
When my husband and I eventually surrendered to the statistic of 70% or higher who divorce after the loss of a child I began to create a profession that mirrored my belief in life as a gift not a burden. Again, I found the gifts in the grief of a lost relationship, and again, it took time. I continued to study in areas of spirituality and psychology that were related to the body and soul’s gift of choice. I wrote several books and created a CD of visualizations and meditations that would help those who couldn’t come to me to do their own work of designing a life that nurtured them and their purpose.
Twelve years later, I have co-created the ISIS Institute with my life partner where we guide clients on the path to living an intentional life through counseling, workshops, retreats, books and CDs. All of this came from the ashes of the loss of my son and the loss of my marriage, both of which guided me onto the path of forgiveness, gratitude and love. I am grateful.