Starting from early childhood to the present, I've experienced an unusual amount of traumatic issues. These issues range from death of loved ones, parental divorce, being an Anglo in the minority, adolescent anger, moving, leaving a job, being jobless, my own divorce, custody battles for my daughter, having pets die or run away, and many other lessons that most of us face at some point in our lives.
In 1987 I came very close to dying of a strange sickness and remember thinking I would either die that night or start recovering. In 1988 my wife Leslie, miscarried leaving us in a state of shock, for me, not knowing how to be supportive, and for Leslie, knowing she had lost a baby. We became pregnant again with my second daughter, Amy. But before Amy was born, my younger brother, Richard, died in a commercial fishing accident in the waters of Alaska. In January of 1990 Keri, my oldest daughter had a major seizure that rocked our world. My grief around Keri’s seizure somehow made me feel I needed to make more money to provide for my family and give them a better life.
With children, age 1 and 3, and a wife just diagnosed with cancer, my job dilemma faded into the background. Once again, the foundation of my reality was shattered and a whole new grief process had begun. Leslie died two years later after many different healing methods proved unsuccessful.
Her sickness and death were major shifts in my life as well as for my daughters. The three of us became a strong team, and as I fumbled along, learning how to be a single dad, I had the unconditional love and support of my daughters and there was some state of sanity in relearning a new life.
My life seemed to be sorting itself out until one early July morning in 1996. An automobile accident took the lives of my daughters and mother-in-law. After that day, I traveled in search of answers that could not be found in the physical world. I remarried, had a child, and divorced after 17 months. This marriage and divorce was the latest of my internal traumas. It brought me back into a place of dark introspection, and deep depression. My grief process, which included becoming an ordained minister, counseling, reading, a rehab center, time alone and support from loved ones, allowed me to see light in a tunnel of darkness and reclaim my soul.
As I moved through this process my passion grew stronger and stronger to help others so they might not have to stumble along blindly on their own personal path. As my knowledge of the subject increased, I began to see grief as an everyday process. Trauma and grief can be a catalyst for paralysis in our lives resulting in unconscious decisions and actions. It can alienate one, to the point that there is only darkness, a feeling of no return. On the other hand, the grief process can be an important teacher, allowing us to evolve, spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally to our highest potential.
"Your guidance gave me insight into myself and the courage to face my fears and begin to heal. This has been life changing for me and my family, thank you Golden Willow!" – P H.