After my husband passed away due to illness, I found solace in keeping busy with work and studies. Coping with my grief was especially difficult when I was alone, especially during nights and weekends. Resources like Facebook, real-life support groups, and the internet were not as readily available as they are today, so I had to conduct my research on how to deal with grief.

The Stages of Grief  Was Not Helpful

Returning to work after the funeral was tough, and starting part-time studies felt overwhelming. I struggled with grief, finding the five stages model too simplistic. People wanted me to “move on,” but I needed my emotions acknowledged. The pressure to be a “good” mourner was tough.

Into Nature

Spending time in nature was very healing. It allowed me to revisit memories of my childhood and brought all my senses to life. Reading books like The Enchanted Wood and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe made nature essential to me.

After my husband’s death, I began travelling to the places we had always dreamed of visiting together. I had profound spiritual experiences during these trips that made me feel close to him. It felt like he was guiding me in my journey, and at times, I cherished the opportunities to honour my loss and our shared dreams. Through these experiences, I have learned to honour my grief without self-pity.

Down the Franklin River

Taking a trip outside my comfort zone helped me deal with grief. I went on a ten-day rafting trip down the Franklin River in Tasmania. It was terrifying and exhilarating. I formed deep connections with nature and found joy in sharing the experience with others. The trip brought back my sense of direction and connection to place.

A New Chapter

I have been dealing with my grief for many years, even after getting remarried and having two children. Some aspects of my grief remained unresolved. After my husband’s death, I pursued higher education.

Around 16 years later, I shifted my career towards the helping professions. I began to seek out education focused on grief while pursuing post-graduate studies in counselling. Through extensive reading, attending workshops, and networking with professionals, I gained a strong understanding of working in the field of grief.

I broadened my expertise to encompass dying, death, and bereavement, ultimately becoming a certified thanatologist. Additionally, I incorporated creative arts into my practice to become a creative grief practitioner. I also delved into the field of end-of-life doula and end-of-life companion animal doula. Following an internship, I became a specialist bereavement counsellor and continued my work and studies in this area.

What helped my grief

  1. I found that returning to work and helping others distracted me from my grief and helped me have a typical day.
  2. Returning to education gave me direction for my future career, a sense of self, and a challenge to my intellect when my compass was spinning off the map.
  3. Travelling solo to places we had dreamed of visiting and returning to reminisce about the places we had been to helped me acknowledge that learning new tasks such as home and car maintenance and repair would be challenging.
  4. Over time, developing a list of trusted tradesmen for home maintenance and repair became a necessity. Trust was defined as being reliable, sincere, competent, and caring about their trade.
  5. Finding solace in nature, I could be myself and escape from the demands of everyday life.
  6. I learned not to let “but I can’t draw” limit exploration of personal growth and grief awareness in creative exploration.
  7. Family and friends, along with trained grief and bereavement counsellors, can offer support and guidance to help make sense of reactions to grief.
  8. Grief reactions are normal and natural; we all grieve differently, and grief has a role in integrating loss into our lives.
  9. Viewing grief in stages was unhelpful. Instead, I found other models, such as Stroebe and Schut’s Dual Process Model of Grief, Lois Tonkin’s Growing Around Grief, and William Worden’s Tasks of Mourning, comforting and accessible.

How Can Changes in Between Assist?

I’m a grief counsellor with lived experience of grief. I help clients find ways to honour their grief, rebuild their lives, and find their place. I continue to expand my knowledge to meet clients where they are in their grief and work with compassion and openness.

Ready to take the first step? Book a brief enquiry call to determine whether we are a good fit for bereavement or general counselling.