Grief and the Grief Coach

As you know, I’m a grief coach.  As you also know, I decided to become a grief coach after I lost my mother because I wanted to help people with their grief journeys and there really aren’t a lot of resources for such help. A year and a half, almost to the day, of my mother’s death, I had to put my first cat down and that was actually over the weekend that I took my mid-course exam in my coaching training program.

So yes, I know grief.

Since becoming a coach, I really haven’t had any significant run-ins with grief.  Thank goodness. Sure, I collectively grieve with society about the events world-wide, but I know things will get better.  I have found fulfillment helping others with their grief journey and I’ve moved on in my personal life. 

Last Monday, grief decided to enter my life again.  I was on a coaching call with a client when I received a text from a best friend who said that another mutual dear friend had passed away.  Since I conduct my coaching calls from the land-line (yes, I still have one), I usually put my cellphone away where I can’t see it.  For some reason I didn’t this time.  I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do professionally and pick myself up by my bootstraps and continue the coaching call and not break presence with my client. All I wanted to do was break down and cry.  I did that after the call.

I knew that my friend was sick.  I thought that he was getting better. He lived about five hours away from me, so seeing him on a regular basis was not something that happened.  Nonetheless, I would consider him a very close friend.

So, what happens when the grief coach experiences grief?

The short answer is most of my training went out the window and I was just a human experiencing grief.  I started the natural process of crying, questioning, being angry, hurting for his family, hurting for the rest of my friends in this group.

After the coaching call and after my good cry, I called my friend that texted me and we spoke for a few minutes and supported each other.  I was essentially done for the rest of the day.  I didn’t sleep that well that night.

I woke up the next morning and that is when my grief coaching skills kicked in.  I decided that I needed to go to work and be productive.  I could still be sad, of course I was.  I was just punched in the gut the day before.  I couldn’t sweep that under the rug, but I knew that I had to handle it professionally.  The way my clients would. 

I went about my day. I did my work.  When grief entered into my thoughts, I allowed it to stay there.  I didn’t fight it.  I allowed myself to experience what I was feeling without it interfering in my productivity.  When I had some down time, I thought about my mother’s death and I used some coping mechanisms that I developed during that time and applied them to this situation. 

I also found support from my group of friends.  We’ve been checking in on each other to see how we were all doing. 

What this experience made me realize is that you need support to get through a death.  You aren’t supposed to do it alone.  Although I am the professional and I know how to handle this and I work with people to handle their grief journeys, I was able to rely on my support system to help me through this. I miss my dear friend greatly.  I’m so grateful that he was a part of my life.  Things will not be the same without him, but I’m a better person for knowing him and I’m so happy about that.

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