I was eight years sober when my husband Ray was given a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. It was his disease, but when I heard those words it seemed like my life was going to end. Being face-to-face with the biggest loss and grief that I had ever experienced, I was scared, angry, and sad. Even after almost a decade of sobriety, I found myself in crisis mode. For a short moment I actually thought drinking would be a good idea. However, because of the emotional and spiritual safety net I had built in my life, I was able to avoid a drink and all the negative consequences of walking down that path.
The things that allowed me to reject relapse and cope with the devastation were my earth based spiritual practices that were part of my ongoing role as a healer and shamanic practitioner and a living understanding of the Serenity Prayer that teaches there is wisdom in knowing what you can and cannot change and it requires courage to change the things you can change.
I prayed for Ray to have a peaceful death and for me to walk through this experience by his side with gratitude, grace and love leading the way.
By approaching this process as a “journey with love,” we were able to move from his diagnosis to death with grace. We faced our grief and fears in a manner that taught me the depth and power of grief and loss as an unrelenting source of pain.
After the life-changing experience of Ray’s death, I moved across the country to work at a hospice center in Santa Monica. During my four years there, I learned first-hand about the universal principles of grief and loss as I watched how other families faced death and dying.
I then began to work for sober living facilities, and for the past three years I have facilitated almost two thousand educational groups about spiritual grief and loss management. Based on the multiple requests for my services, it became clear that my approach of integrating shamanic healing and grief therapy presented clients with the option to choose positive action during times of duress.
I offer group workshops and individual sessions in grief management and recovery. As an elder and a widow, I am happy to be able to continue my role as a spiritual coach and healer helping all individuals discover a personal higher power and spiritual safety net that helps them face grief and loss with grace.