Before I get into the parts of my life that have brought me to creating this site and my business, let me tell you some other things about myself. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of this country and to have a great family. My husband Pat and I recently celebrated our 30th anniversary and we have 2 great sons, aged 23 and 19. They have been the light of my life and continue to bring me incredible joy.
I also stand in awe of nature and have a great love for animals, especially dogs and cats, my last cat having lived to a ripe old 21 years. We now have a Chihuahua and a Chiweenie and cats are out as we now know that my husband is highly allergic to them. I love to travel and have seen quite a bit of the U.S., parts of Canada and have been to a few other countries. I hope to get to more! I am also an avid knitter and an occasional seamstress.
My first intense experience with death and grief was when my father died shortly after my 20th birthday. It literally blew me away. I could not have imagined what it would do to my life. Although my father had been treated for cancer, circumstances changed so quickly and dramatically that it seemed he was fine one minute and gone the next. Two weeks later I returned to college. I had no idea what was happening to me. My best friend had moved away, my roommate changed the subject if I tried to talk about it, my mother was steeped in her own grief- well, you get the picture. My father was everything to me- the kind of father everyone hopes to have. I spent years trying to deal with this grief and learned a lot about how our society approaches death and grief, or doesn’t.
Many years later, my 2nd child, Jenna, a beautiful baby girl with lovely auburn hair, died 13 hours after she was born, turning my whole world upside down. She had a chromosomal condition called Trisomy 13 which I later learned she had acquired from me due to a chromosome translocation that I never knew I had. It is not the same as a hereditary condition but that gets into a bunch of genetic stuff that really isn’t important here. I have spent what feels like an eternity learning how to live with this loss while making a hopeful, meaningful life for myself and the rest of my family. Although the experiences gained from the loss of my father did help me in facing this tremendous grief, there were so many different things that I had to learn. Losing a child brings a whole different set of feelings and experiences unlike anything I could have imagined. I will admit that there were times that I didn’t think that I would survive it. And having a marriage survive it- well that’s a story in itself.
These were the most significant losses in my life that have brought me to share my thoughts with you. I have also had 5 miscarriages and have undergone intensive fertility treatments to get pregnant, which was quite stressful. In my last major career position, my boss who was also my close friend and mentor for 10 years, died after a battle of the same number of years with an extreme form of cancer. I had worked along with him during that time, through good and bad, growing our agency and having to watch his great light and energy fade and go out at the age of 50. I also lost my sister-in-law a few years ago at the same age in another sudden twist of cancer’s knife. She had been a close member of my family for 34 years. So, as you can see, death and I are well acquainted.
As far as my formal credentials go, I have both a Bachelor’s of Arts degree and Master of Education degree. I have worked extensively in developing and executing a wide range of support services for both individuals and families having children of all ages with varying disabilities. I have also sat with parents in doctors’ offices trying to help them to understand harsh news about their child’s future and walked with them through tears of frustration and grief as they tried to work through a maze of needs and resources.
In addition to these experiences, I have taught a variety of regular and special needs Education courses at the college level as well as having facilitated presentations and workshops. I have been the Executive Director of a large non-profit agency and owned a small home based business.
Along with my personal loss experiences, I have dedicated myself to continued education in the areas of death and grief, having acheived Certification in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. It is my goal to use all that I have learned and gained to support and lift up anyone I can with information, understanding, guidance and most of all, hope.