When I was 18 I was on a church youth group trip to the Boundary Waters. We were canoeing, hiking and having fun. It was a sunny day, crisp water and we all decided to slide down a little waterfall. Wearing a life jacket, a few girls went. I was going to be next in line but the girl who went before me – Jamie – wanted to go again. And so she did.
She went down the little waterfall and disappeared into the tide which pulled her deeper and deeper. A guide from the same camp was also there and he jumped in after her.
They both died.
I did CPR for what felt like hours on the guide while people ran over to the other side and waited for Jamie’s body.
One minute life was one way and the next instant it changed tragically. And the person you were before is not the person you will be after.
We were rescued eventually and taken back to camp and I will never forget the look on Jamie’s mothers face when she arrived. Or having to fill out police reports. Or giving a speech at the funeral.
When I heard the news about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 7 others on Sunday, my body remembered and took me back to my place of grief and instant life change.
I instantly thought of the people left behind. His wife, their daughters, the children of the other couple, the husband of the woman and the family of the pilot. It’s the people left behind that will deal with the grief.
That’s the thing about grief. It is always in your body. Your body stores all the emotions, the feelings, and the memories.
I don’t tell you my story to have you feel bad for me. I tell you because we have all experienced grief and I want you to acknowledge it.
When tragedy hits the news, we all feel it. And it’s not because we knew the person but because our bodies know we have also experienced something in our own lives. Big, small, tragic, it all matters. And what we realize when a tragedy is on the news is that we are all connected. We all experience grief.
Tragedy, trauma and grief can take shape in so many way.
- Death of a partner, parent, child
- Death of a pet
- Financial struggles
- Emotional struggles
- Loss of the “way you thought life would turn out”
- The slow loss of a person with dementia or Alzheimers
- Loss of a job
- A fire
- Theft or robbery
- Emotional or physical abuse
- Childhood trauma
- and so many more
I have had the honor and privilege to walk with some clients through trauma and grief. To be witness to the processing, the acknowledgement and the waking up every day to the realization that life will never be the same. The question of “What do I do now?”
I have worked with clients on every day trauma and grief. The pains of being a person living a human experience.
My hope is that you can say “this sucks, this is not ok. this is horrible.” But that you can also be honest and open about your grief. Don’t stuff it down and ignore all of your feelings.
I can guarantee we will all experience grief at some point. It is a fact of life. It also sounds cliche but we don’t know how much time have and life is truly for living. It’s also for moving forward when you experience trauma. I don’t necessarily like term “moving on” because we can never leave that part of us behind. We take it with us on our journey.
I will always have pieces of Jamie with me. She enjoyed life, was gearing up for her senior year of high school, had enthusiasm, compassion for others and was a bright light.
I carry that with me and I know it has had an impact on the way I live my life.
I feel like I have a lot more to say (I’m sure I do) but for now, please know, I am here if you need a person. If you felt some really hard feelings this weekend (or any day), know you’re not alone.
I have open ears, a full heart and I will welcome you with wide arms if you are ready to process and talk about trauma or grief.
JUST EMAIL ME and I’m here for you.