Identifying my own grief

Author: Kathy Cherven | Date: January 17, 2018

For anyone who looks at my business Facebook page, it is apparent that I have the education and credentials to be a counselor. My passion for grief counseling didn’t come from education though; it came from two life experiences that occurred over 43 years ago. You will learn that at that time in my life, there was little knowledge on the emotions of grief and that lack of information sent me reeling with emotions I didn’t understand.

During my first trimester of pregnancy with my 2nd son, I had learned that my most wonderful paternal grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer following gallbladder surgery. No one was allowed to talk to my Grandma about it, and the diagnosis was kept secret from her. I went through my pregnancy bracing myself for my Grandma’s death which distracted me from the joy of my baby. (By the way, my Grandma lived another 10 years without any symptoms)!!!!

Then, eight days after my son was born, my husband’s brother was killed in an accident when his semi-truck was T-boned by a train. We got through the services, and then we didn’t talk about our grief to anyone. Or I should say, I didn’t talk to anyone about it, and my husband also didn’t talk about his brother because it was so painful. We went about our lives in our own grief bubbles. I was overwhelmed with emotions I didn’t understand and felt isolated, disconnected, angry, and guilt, to name just a few. I didn’t have the words to describe how I felt, so I couldn’t say anything

That first year was hard but, in the Fall of that year, there was a course offered at JJC on Elizabeth-Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Grief that is used even today. I signed up for the course which saved my life. The class was more like a support group as we discussed the emotions of grief. For the first time in a year, I felt validated and reassured that I wasn’t a bad person for feeling angry, and I wasn’t “crazy” as sometimes grief can make you feel. Our final assignment was to write a paper on a personal experience with grief. I cried and sobbed as I wrote of my experience and turned in my assignment with tear-stained paper, but I felt free for the first time in a long time.

From that point on, I continued to attend seminars on grief to help me better understand grief and started to incorporate my knowledge with my personal and professional life. Then there came the point in my nursing career that I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with the emotional components of illness and grief and then pursued my Master’s in Counseling.

I understand the overwhelming emotions of grief that can leave one feeling isolated, disconnected and confused and it is my passion to provide support and reassurance to anyone who is experiencing a loss. I know it is hard to take that first step in admitting help is needed with your grief and I encourage you to pick up the phone and call. I understand!!!!!

Thank you for reading my story, Kathy

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