INTERVIEW - KARA'S STORY
We regularly interview people who have experienced loss or burnout. Everyone experiences and responds to hardships in different ways, there is no right way or wrong way to grieve or handle stress. We share these stories in hopes that their experiences will support you in your journey – which ever side you are on – working through the process or supporting a loved one. If you are interested in sharing your story, please reach out via our home page.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am a blogger living in Boulder, CO. I’m a former massage therapist, spiritual intuitive healer and artist. I’m a proud mom of one son who is about to turn 20 years old and a little dog named Lyra. I am passionate about cooking and eating healthy “real” food, holistic healing, personal development, spirituality and metaphysics. I enjoy nature photography and take photos on my daily walks and hikes around Boulder. I treasure spending time with friends and loved ones. I like reading, watching movies and high quality TV shows. I am currently writing a self-help memoir sharing my personal journey through grief. If you or someone you know has suffered a loss, I invite you to visit my blog, Leaning into Grief, if you are looking for additional insights and support.
Who in your life has passed away? When did this happen?
My beloved husband Claude Thompson died by suicide on April 19, 2012. We were both living in San Francisco when we met in 1994. We had a whirlwind romance and married one year later. After one miscarriage we were overjoyed when our son, Noah, was born in 1998. At the time of Claude’s death, we had been together for 18 years, we were both 54 years old and my son was 14.
His path to suicide was complex. For several years he was not happy running his business in the tradeshow industry. He tried many times to make changes in his life so that he would feel more fulfilled and less trapped. However, he was not successful at finding the key to leading a more purpose filled life. He held on to the business despite his dissatisfaction and discontent since it was the “safe” thing to do. Due to this and the stress of running the business over time he developed depression and insomnia along with Crohn’s disease. He was on prescription medications for all of these ailments.
During an eight-month period before his suicide Claude’s health was declining rapidly. He was in daily pain emotionally and physically and his ability to sleep had become even more challenging. He had also lost over 20 pounds which left him looking emaciated. He had been given more medications with no relief in site. Soon desperation, and a delusional reality took hold and he quickly slid down the rabbit hole with no hope of return. It was the perfect storm of an unhealthy emotional and physical body, and the medications that led him to his eventual death. He was no longer in control and the man I married was lost in a land of oblivion.
In 3-5 words, describe your life during this time.
After Claude died my life was filled with tears, screams, disbelief, shock and grief.
What helped guide you through the grieving process?
During my grieving process over these past six years, I have received guidance and support from grief counselors, spiritual healers and bodyworkers such as massage therapists, chiropractors and shamanic practitioners to name a few. I could not have done this alone!
What advice would you provide others dealing with loss?
Grief is an individual process with its own unique time frame for each one of us. There is no right or wrong way to do it. I used to think that there would come a day when my grief would magically disappear, but in reality grief has no destination or end point. It will likely be messy, it will cycle in and out of your immediate awareness and hit you at times like a tidal wave when least expected. It will then recede into the shadows, waiting to appear again and again in various degrees of intensity when there is a trigger, reminding you of your loss. It is heavy and tenacious. It can feel never-ending at times. Grieving takes much time and patience to move through. Yet thankfully it’s impact and magnitude does temper over time lifting the burden and the weight of our loss.
Reaching out for help and guidance has been key to assisting me with my own grieving process – a part of self-care that is so crucial during loss. Other things that I have found helpful are seeing things from a spiritual perspective, knowing that there is a bigger picture at play in our lives, being out in nature, moving my body, breathing deeply, eating well, journaling, learning to be gentle with myself, forgiveness, finding ways to awaken joy and being able to smile or even laugh and knowing that it is OK to do that without feeling guilty.
Most importantly, I made the decisive choice to heal my broken heart over time. In doing so, I was able to recognize that I’m still alive and have an important purpose – just as you do. Discovering that purpose can be empowering during a time when you’re feeling powerless over your grief. Knowing that your loved one want you to find peace and happiness after they’ve passed can inspire you to take action to create a new life in honor of the love that you shared.
You never forget, but with time and recommitting over and over again to your healing process, you can gain a new relationship with your loss - creating a new normal, which will help you recognize that not only can you survive, but thrive after loss. When your embrace this path through grief, you are open to the gifts and opportunities for growth that can be found along the way.
What advice would you provide those who want to comfort those dealing with loss?
It’s important to be present for them in whatever capacity they need you. Ask them what they require that day and be willing to deliver. It may be as simple as a hug, holding them while they cry or simply lending an ear to listen to how they are feeling that day. They may need help with day-to-day things like cooking some healthy food to keep their strength up, grocery shopping, child care, house cleaning, laundry, etc. Ultimately, because grief can feel so isolating they need to feel loved and that they are not alone.