The Silver Lined Clouds of Suffering

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“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller

Often when people learn that I am a counselor and wellness coach they ask, “Don’t you get tired of hearing people’s problems day after day? Isn’t it depressing?”

I smile and respond, “No, not at all.”

The Chinese kanji for “crisis” is the same for “opportunity.” When clients come to me in crisis or with problems, it is my work to help them see the opportunity for growth and expansion that is right there in the midst of the difficulty.

But it is not only my clinical training and experience that enables me to help others this way.  My own human experiences have been rich soil for cultivating a deep belief in this idea of silver-lined clouds.

My journey of conscious personal growth began at age 24 when I went into therapy myself after a rocky decade of adolescence and early adulthood.  My therapist introduced me to the practice of mindfulness and meditation which set me on a course for life, teaching me how to help myself find grounding and center, settling my mind and heart.  It was the beginning of a path I have followed enriched by the difficulties along the way and it led me to become a therapist and a meditation and yoga instructor for others.

When I was 34, my third child was still-born. His name was Garrett Michael.  I went through 11 hours of painful labor to deliver a baby that we knew had already died.   The silence in the delivery as he was born was crushing. I held his perfectly formed lifeless body in my hands and felt only emptiness.  I remember saying over and over, “This wasn’t supposed to happen…”

The days and weeks that followed were an ocean of sadness, confusion, and anger.  I learned to ride the waves of grief noticing the sensation of these emotions in my body, breathing with and through the intermittent floods of emotion that alternated with numbness.

Between the waves, I meditated, finding rest and eventually connection with a thread of peace that began to weave through and between the waves of sorrow.

Through this experience Life handed me,  I came to know the grip of grief that was like no other emotion I’d ever felt.

In time, I began sharing my story with others. Each time over the years, it became easier to share the lessons I gleaned without being washed with sorrow.

From all of this, I could better relate to clients in pain with issues of grief and loss, holding a space for their healing with great compassion.

It was the experience of moving through and overcoming my own suffering that changed my world view, realizing the blessed fragility of this human life.

The painful grieving of losing Garrett Michael enabled me to treasure my other children all the more and to move through life with a greater sense of purpose. In turn, I am able to hold a space for my clients who are suffering knowing they too will make it through and overcome eventually realizing the gifts that come along as well.

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