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The Six Keys to Healing from Terrible Loss

When they told me they couldn’t revive him, and my sweet boy Sammy was gone, time screeched to a halt. All I remember is collapsing into my husband’s arms and screaming. On the top of my lungs.  I couldn’t stop. 

I’m not sure how long it went on, but eventually, I felt a hand on my knee.  I lifted my head and looked into the kindest eyes of the paramedic, who was the first of what would become thousands of others who would say the words, “I am so sorry for your loss.”

“Loss” is a word that barely describes the soul-searing, system-shattering agony I felt when my son died.  It’s almost impossible to put into words the degree of pain; emotionally as well as physically.  My heart felt shattered into a million pieces.  There was an elephant of grief sitting on my chest making it hard to breathe. I could barely lift my head or walk across the room. It felt like I was moving through a sea of sludge. 

I’d been through terrible loss before, many times. I’d been with both my parents and grandmothers as they transitioned. I had just recently said goodbye to my spirit mama, who was my truest friend and greatest support for as long as I could remember. But this loss was deeper and wider than all of that combined.  I had no idea how I was going to get through the next hour, much less a lifetime without Sammy.  

After several days of barely leaving my bed, I needed to get out of the house and the constant reminders of my boy and our tragedy, so I went to my favorite place, the beach.  Sitting on the sand on Venice beach, staring blankly at the light reflecting off the ocean, my only goal was to just continue to try to breathe.  It was there that I had a profound and metaphysical experience I shared in a recent blog.  And it was in that moment that my healing journey began, leading me to leave my family behind less than a week after Sammy died, to go into the redwood forest, and go all the way into my pain. 

Now, 3 years out, I know that week at 1440 Multiversity in the Redwood Forest saved my life.  Since then, I’ve continued to build on the practices I started there, and it has transformed my life in more beautiful ways than I could ever have imagined.  While I would hand it all back in a second if I could have my boy, the gifts I have received as a result of going through this fire are still being unpacked; I am a much more self-actualized, fulfilled, authentic, and (yes) joy-filled version of myself than I was before losing Sammy.  I have a sense of freedom and connection to the Spirit world that I didn’t know was possible.  I have a tribe of true soul friends who show up, step up, and play with and support me in the most beautiful ways, and I them. 

Just recently, I finally saw the seeds of the dream I planted at the mother tree at 1440 Multiversity come to fruition. I brought 66 grieving mamas back there, and took them through the same process I experienced, using all the knowledge I’ve gained over the past 3 years. 13 of my amazing healer friends joined me and volunteered their time.  I had three goals for that week: 

  • to teach the mamas the tools and techniques for authentic and sustainable healing and help them see (even a flicker) of light at the end of the dark tunnel of grief.
  • to connect the mamas with a community of sacred sisters who intimately understand one another’s pain and will walk the path of healing together.
  • to help the mamas discover how to have a continued relationship with their angels on the other side, because the energy of which we are made can’t be created or destroyed and love never dies.   

I was hopeful that at least a few of them would find the healing, but I was overjoyed and astounded when every single mama transformed in the same way I did, and all three of my goals were profoundly met.  The healing continues in the beautiful community we all share since then. 

I now know what it takes to heal from terrible loss, and I am more committed than ever to lighting the way for others. There are six key components to healing, each of them necessary for the transformation:

  • Embodiment: As hard as it is, to heal we must come back into and stay in the body. We leave ourselves when we experience horrific loss or trauma, and the only path to healing the physical (not to mention the mind), is by being back in the body. Embodiment healing includes things like somatic experiencing, body work, ecstatic dance, breathwork, sound healing, and other kinds of healing movement.
  • Spirit Connection: Each of us is a spirit having a human experience, not the reverse. We are all pure, atomic energy, and energy can’t be created or destroyed. It just changes form. It is absolutely possible to continue a relationship with our loved ones on the other side. The healing in this category includes reconnecting with a spiritual practice (of any kind), accessing and cultivating spiritual gifts (we all have), and even mediumship (the real kind, not the charlatans). 
  • Tribe: None of us can heal alone. We are meant to be supported, not only by others who step up to help but by a tribe of fellow travelers who share our experience and intimately understand our pain.  This means learning how to release those who can’t show up for you and call in new tribe members who can. Healing also requires support for working through the relationship struggles that emerge on the grief journey (and as a result of it).
  • Creative Expression: When we allow our right brains to take over, and flow states to emerge, amazing messages, wisdom, and connection to our hearts and the other side follow.  Healing requires getting out of the brain so the mind can work, and creative pursuits like conscious art (somatic painting, soul collage, wish totems, etc.), are powerful tools for doing that.
  • Nature Exposure: Spending time in nature is one of the best things we can do for our bodies and minds regardless of our struggle. Nature holds a healing frequency that is constant and unchanging. Mother nature never matches our energy, but we have no choice but to match hers. Healing activities like gentle nature walks, gardening, grounding (barefoot on earth or grass), and forest bathing are important parts of moving through grief with grace. 
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation: This is where traditional grief coaching or therapy comes in and is necessary for addressing guilt, family issues, finding ways to honor our lost loved ones, and ultimately perhaps turning your pain into purpose (big or small) which is a huge part of healing. 

The bottom line? You don’t have to just go through terrible loss, you can grow through it. I’ve learned that grief is a true portal.  If you are willing to go all the way into it, courageously and unapologetically, it will burn away everything that no longer serves and transform you and your life in more beautiful ways than you can imagine.  It’s only possible with support, community, and consistency. It’s not easy, and not a straight line. There are techniques and tools that are important to learn. But healing is possible. 

The loss never goes away, but you become an expert surfer of the waves of pain (which come less and less often), and you discover how strong you truly are. The memories of your loved ones become beautiful visitors, and you move through the world, not with the burden of your loss but with the gift of your love and connection. Most of all, life can get really, really good again, probably even better…not in spite of your loss, but because of it.     

If you have suffered any kind of loss and want to heal,  join a beautiful tribe of like-minded souls, and stay in the know about upcoming events and retreats, please follow me to join this beautiful tribe! 

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