Learning to Live with Grief
Content warning for today's message: today's post contains conversation about loss of life.
A couple months ago I met a beautiful soul who I felt an immediate connection with - her name is Yolanda Castellon and she is a Life & Loss Coach. As we chatted, I knew her services and experiences were absolutely necessary to share with you all. Especially with the secrecy many women maintain around their first 12 weeks of pregnancy, miscarriages can be an incredibly lonely time without pillars of support to be found in family and friends. A Life & Loss coach is there for you to lean on as you learn to live with the grief.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your experiences that led you to become a Life & Loss coach.
When my first son Max passed away unexpectedly in 2016, my life as I knew it was gone, I was devastated and felt so many emotions all at once. My heart was broken but deep down, I felt that there had to be a way to continue living life fully, with Max love as strength.
Max lost oxygen and had severe brain damage after a long and traumatic delivery that ended up in an emergency c-section. My pregnancy was low risk and uneventful, there was nothing that could prepare us for his death.
Learning to live with grief has been an important journey for me, it has brought me where I am today. Max’s loss brought me closer to myself and gave me purpose. I have made it my life’s mission to serve and support others who have been forced to navigate this challenging reality.
My work as a Psychologist and Life & Loss Coach has become my special way to honor my own journey, to honor my son Max and to honor my clients’ journeys.
2. Can you explain a bit about how friends and family might best support or speak to a family who is experiencing grief from the death of their child or pregnancy loss? What are some key phrases to avoid and do you have examples of what to say instead?
It is so important to acknowledge the loss, to validate their feelings and to follow their lead/preferences. Every single grief journey is unique and everyone reacts differently depending on timing and sensitivities but it is always better to be present than to disappear when something this big happens to someone close to you.
Here are some suggestions of key phrases to say and to avoid:
I don’t know what to say. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
(Give a hug)I am so sorry this happened to you and your baby.
This must be so hard for you. Take all the time you need to process it all. Please know that I’m here for you if you want to talk about it, but if you don’t want to go there, no problem. I fully understand.
Every baby deserves to be celebrated, no matter how long they are with us. I will always remember your baby/pregnancy.
Everything happens for a reason, this too shall pass.
I am so sorry, at least you know that you can get pregnant.
How could that happen? Why did that happen?
No worries, you are young and healthy, I am sure you will have another baby. At least you and your baby didn’t suffer.
3. What do you offer to women who are at this stage in life where they may need your services? How can women find support even if they choose not to go with one-on-one coaching or therapy?
I offer Online Transformational Coaching services in three languages: English, Dutch & Spanish. I know how crucial after care is, how lonely the journey can feel and how hard it is to try to find the right support.
My flexibility and personalized support make a big difference in my clients’ journeys. In just 6 sessions, I have seen some client’s transform their lives, embracing their journeys, transforming the pain of the loss into strength and daring to take the steps to live a fulfilled life on their own terms.
If you choose not to go with one-on-one coaching or therapy, please find your support in the form or shape that works for you.
Grief takes a huge amount of energy and mental space, that is why trying to deal with it all on your own can feel very heavy.
If you like reading books, please try to practice what you learn. Finding validation, connecting with others who have gone through something similar can be helpful. Finding a listening ear, someone who will listen to you without judging, someone who will be there for you when the waves of grief are getting too intense, is also important. This person can be a family member, a friend or someone who you just met but you feel a click with.
My main tip here is: try to always pay attention to your own feelings: if it feels good and if it resonates with you, it is usually something helpful for you.
4. What are some struggles that many families who've lost a child/pregnancy wish others understood about this process and their pain?
One of the biggest struggles I have noticed is people seeing grief as a linear process. That can create confusion and frustration to the grievers and their families/friends.
Grief isn’t linear, grief is actually messy and it comes and goes in waves. We grieve because we love and we will love our babies forever. It takes time and a conscious effort to learn to live with grief.
5. Do you have advice for women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant after the loss of a child or miscarriage?
It is valid and normal to have mixed feelings.
Now more than ever, it is so important to be kind to yourself and find ways to manage any anxiety that you might be feeling. Ask all the questions you have, share all the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and try to anchor yourself (as much as possible) in the present moment.
This is a new experience and due to your past experience(s), it is challenging. You are doing the best you can. Ask for help if you need it and please take it one day and one step at a time. You can do this!
6. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Learning to live with grief and carrying on with life after loss is challenging. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling.
Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. You are showing lots of self-awareness, courage and strength when you do it.
The journey becomes less heavy and more clear when you have someone to support you and carry some of the weight for you. You are not alone.
Yolanda Castellón | Life & Loss Coaching
Linkedin: Yolanda Castellon
Thank you so much for sharing your story Yolanda and helping so many others find their way to living with grief.
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