Article by Sue Holden
Sue is joining Fab after Fifty as a regular contributor an all matters relating to grief. Here Sue shares her story and explains how and why she became involved in this area of work.
I am a certified Grief Recovery Specialist of the Grief Recovery Institute which has been operating in America for 35 years and has Specialists all over the world. The UK operation has been running since 2010.
How did I get here? It is not the sort of job that the Careers teachers at school have on their desks! I became a P.E. teacher but got disillusioned after a while and left and went into Sales as an Area Representative. I then got married in my early thirties and soon embarked on the career of mother and domestic engineer moving around the country and the world.
This was when I experienced probably my first major loss when my first child died in my womb at 26 weeks and I had to go through an induced delivery. 25 years later I realised that I was still grieving that loss. How did I come to realise this? Well by now, my husband of 27 years of marriage decided out of the blue that he couldn’t live with me for the next 25 years, (code for I am having an affair), so he left me and I went into 3 years of psychotherapy. At the same time my 2 daughters were leaving University and moving away from home to start their own lives. I was left in a 5 bedroom house which was suddenly very empty. I was left to sell that and find somewhere to live. As anyone knows, buying and selling houses is not easy, one of the most stressful things you can do, and I was doing it all on my own. I suddenly had to deal with 2 lots of solicitors, (divorce and conveyancing) and surveyors and estate agents, oh and to keep running my successful picture framing business of 10 years with 2 premises and 3 members of staff. I made offers on 4 houses had 4 surveys done and was let down by 2 sellers who changed their minds, had 1 house that would have fallen down and finally 1 house that was half fallen down. I was forced to move in to holiday accommodation over one Christmas and New Year when a house purchase fell through and with a daughter who had appendicitis and a burst ovarian cyst lying on the bed/settee. We had a microwave, no washing machine and no oven. But we managed a tree and a turkey leg between us and we were fine.
It was during this time that I realised how much and how deeply loss and unresolved grief can affect one. During my marriage I also lost both my parents and other relations. Within my therapy sessions and due to my own practical and emotional change of circumstances I was beginning to find a new and different me. I became interested in the mind/body/ emotional relationship. I was “saved” by my psychotherapist and wanted to give something back where I felt I could. I started looking for some voluntary work with a children’s charity to help people who had lost babies and came across The Grief Recovery Method. Meanwhile my framing business was really busy, I had two premises and staff, and it was consuming all my time. In September 2014 I got an offer to buy my business. The lease on my premises was due to end in 2017 so I was going to have to make a decision sometime soon as to what to do with it. With my new found belief in “things happening for a reason” and the fact that I felt I had done all I could with it, I decided to sell. So at age 60 and with my new awareness of life and who I am, I sold up and decided to embark on a completely different career path, and qualified as a Grief Recovery Specialist and am now just starting out to build and run my own, very different, business again.
The Grief Recovery Process is an educational structure whereby the griever takes a series of small actions based around a loss history graph, a loss relationship graph and a completion letter. This is what makes me different to other counsellors and therapists. The work is done over a 7 week period if working one on one or over an 8 week period if I work with small groups. At the end of the course the client will have completed the unfinished emotional relationship with the loss and will be ending the pain and in a position to move forward with their life. It is important to stress that neither the memories nor the relationship is forgotten.
Coping with grief in the workplace
I also offer workshops to businesses where I go in and explain to staff what grief is, how it shows itself, how it adversely affects an individual’s ability to perform fully at work and what can be done to help. I also give talks to community groups to help raise the awareness of what grief is and how they may be carrying it, what the adverse effects are and how I can help them.
Every one of us has suffered some significant emotional loss in the past and will suffer more in the future. It is the biggest un-talked about topic! The elephant in the room! Move over let’s make way for just a hamster!
Sue can be contacted via her Facebook page. Grief Recovery Today