What if No one Dies?

I am sitting opposite Karen, a woman I know. She has been coming to see me for healing for some time and we have been working on building her strength to say yes to her dreams. Today as she sits opposite me I can tell that something has shifted, and not in a good way, in a shoulders-slumped-chest-caved-in kind of way.

I ask her how she is and is surprised by her response.

“It’s silly. I shouldn’t be feeling this way.”

I wait to give her the space to share.

“My dog died. I am devastated.”

GRIEF and the pieces of her broken heart have just entered the space.

“It doesn’t feel like I am allowed. But, I do feel this way.”

And the grief and all her broken pieces are now being swept under the invisible carpet in my healing space.

I ask her the question that matters, “Did you love your dog?”

She opens up and shares with me her long relationship with her companion, how much support and love she felt with him, and the empty space she now feels that he is gone.

I share with her the perspective that matters, “You are grieving. You have lost a beloved and your heart is broken.”

She continues to sweep away at the invisible carpet.

“But, it’s my dog. It’s not like my mother died. I know people who have had big losses and I don’t feel like I am allowed to share how much I miss my dog, how broken my heart is.”

I shift slightly so my heart space is open to hers as what I am about to say next is what I hope her heart can hear.

“Grief is not about what or who you have lost, it is about your heart. When we experience a LOSS our HEARTS BREAK. The broken pieces invite GRIEF. Full STOP. You are grieving and your grief is welcome here.”

And it was then that the healing for the day began.

In my years as a healing practitioner and grief guide, I have sat with as many losses as there are hearts, and too often I see the sweeping, the denying, and the lack of allowing that loss and grief needs. We are taught (somewhere…where did that lesson come from?) that grief is exclusive to the death of a (human) loved one. And even then, we get lost inside our loss as we (wonderful complicated humans) are not so great at grief as we are never taught how to be.

Grief and I are intimate friends. I know her (to me grief is an angel and feminine) well. People I love have died and I have, more than once been thrown into the broken terrain of heart repair and navigating grief. It was expected that I would be grieving after the loss of my son Sage almost 10 years ago, and now, with the recent loss of my elder sister Kathy, I am again allowed.


But, what if no one died?

Susan is feeling lost after the break up of her long-term marriage and even deeper loss and uncertainty as she approaches the one-year anniversary of her divorce. For more than 20 years she was among other things, a wife. As the wife, she chose to leave her husband and she feels assured it was and is the right step for her. Yet, she is feeling sad and lost.

“My friends think I should be happy, that I should be celebrating my decision and choice. I am not happy, I feel sad. The life I had built over years has been deleted. It feels strange and I don’t know how to move forward”

Rachel is reeling in shock waves and is busy with hospital visits and treatment appointments. Everyone wants to talk to her about how she is feeling physically and what the doctors are saying. Everyone is sharing their support for her return to physical health. Yet, no one is asking about her heart, or how SHE feels.

“I had a sense of who I was and what was before me as I built my life with my family, my career, and my hopes and wishes, and now, all I see is the unknown and I feel scared. I lost the future I thought I had and my present hurts, literally. My heart feels heavy.”

Hannah has been dreaming of children since she was a child, she has always wanted (and waited) to be a mother. After many tries and many extensions of hope it is revealed, there are no children on the way. Hannah is supported by her husband, her family, and friends, but no one wants to talk about what is missing. Hannah is left alone in her loss and the empty womb is now as empty as her hope and sense of self.

“I hate that I get triggered by others who have children, or the swollen belly of a pregnant woman. It happens all the time. And, each time I swallow it, I say nothing. The hurt simmers and my resentment builds. I wish people could see me as much as I see happy mothers, laughing children, and swollen bellies.”

Death is not the only catalyst for Grief.

I believe there are FOUR pathways to our Big Life Losses and I call them the 4 D’s.


As a grief guide I have sat with them all, for myself, family members, and those I support, and here is what I know without a doubt. No matter which D your life encounters, Grief will follow. Sure, they all have different lessons and impacts, and they will be felt and healed in their own unique way. But, they are all LOSS and as a result, our hearts break.


It is not simply about death, It IS all about YOUR HEART.



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