In Kristin’s shoes: Mindfulness After Loss

I’ve spent most of my life afraid and anxious- frustrated that few understood what I lost. When I was just two weeks turning shy of celebrating my fifth birthday, my father died from cancer. The entire trajectory of my life changed. I’ve spent countless hours studying human behavior and grief. I even obtained my Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan.

And then in 2002, a year before I was married, my future husband introduced me to the idea of practicing gratitude. And this was long before, I believe, it was trending on social media. We were living in different cities and met half- way. I was complaining about something, not even sure what upset me. His reply: “We’re going to start practicing gratitude. Each day, we’re going to email each other ten things we’re grateful for.”

Approximately a year after this conversation, we were married. He also introduced me to the idea of getting to know my father through his mother (my grandma). At first, I dismissed this suggestion thinking it was a bit foolish and she wouldn’t be interested. Deep down, I didn’t want to upset her or let her know how much remained unhealed in my heart. Eventually, I decided to embark on this journey and I had many deep conversations with her. In doing this, I began to heal a part of my fractured heart.

Then in 2007 when I was 33, I endured another major personal tragedy. My husband of four years died less than eight weeks after being diagnosed with bronchitis. We spent about four weeks with various doctors trying to figure out the primary origin of the tumors. Eventually, we were told it was advanced adrenal cancer. We choose palliative care and then hospice in our home.

When he died, my life hit a brick wall. I was shattered. Once again, I felt hopeless and lost in grief. Despite having a master’s degree in social work and several years of clinical experience, nothing prepared me for this loss. I went to a few therapy & support group sessions, read everything I could about grief, attended yoga classes and ran long distances.

I wanted to learn more about how widows survived and practiced resilience.

Terrified to open up and share my own story, I decided to do just this. I decided to interview as many widows as possible for my book- A Widow’s Guide to Healing – fully knowing there’s no magic formula to end sorrow.

During this four-year writing journey, I devoted myself to getting healthy and heal from the inside out. I regained my sense of well-being. This didn’t happen overnight. My desire for wellness and healing has taken me to Africa, United Kingdom, and countless cities, both big and rural in the United States. At times, I traveled alone and other times in the company with other women who had lost their significant others like me.

Along the way, I’ve become friends with various luminaries, including my mentor Deepak Chopra. I’ve spoken at Harvard Medical School, the United Nations, and written for major publications.

Over the past 20 years, I spent countless hours studying different health/ wellness modalities for healing grief. Most recently, I’ve combined these systems and lessons to create a platform to help women who are feeling stuck, anxious, and sad to discover wellness, purpose and even joy through connecting deep within. I share this in my new writing mentorship series as well as my mindfulness coaching practice.

 

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