It occurred to me that if you are a recent reader of my blog, you might not know how I got to a place where I’m able to be vulnerable about my grief journey.

Let me take a few minutes to bring you up to date.

All my life I’ve been a seeker. Even as a child, I always sensed my inner light, even though I was sure I was wrong. A lot of things in my early life led me to believe that I had no value.  Neighborhood kids bullied me, I was sexually abused starting at age 8, and I had a severe stutter, which affected most of my early life. Still, I had glimmers of what came through to me as my true essence. I always thought that was hogwash.

I did a lot of work to move beyond the abuse of my childhood. By the time I had my own children, I was in touch with a semblance that inner light most of the time, yet I was still a work in progress.

In November of 2000, my 17-year old daughter Leah died from injuries she sustained in a car accident on her way to school; she was a senior. She hit a tree, the only one in the middle of a cornfield, and had severe brain injuries. After 5 days in the hospital we had to make the impossible decision to remove her from life support. I thought my life was over.

And it was, my life as I knew it would never be the same again.

Shortly after she died, I received two messages. They were similar to the message I received as a child about my inner light.

Losing Leah is too high a price to pay to not live the life you were meant to live.

Everything you have done up until this point has prepared you for what is coming next.

I had no idea how I was going to make sense of either of those messages at the time; however, I knew that in order to honor my daughter, I would have to try to excavate the life I was meant to live. I turned to a practice that was already a part of my life at the time, a direct experience practice of present moment awareness called Samyama.

Samyama helped me to be with the pain of my daughter’s death, without all of the stories that went with it.

I also already had a trusted Samyama practitioner. In those days I didn’t want to talk about Leah’s death to anyone who didn’t know me well. I was self-isolating, and staying in my pain.  It’s what most of us do in early grief.

I found Samyama to be a powerful resource to unravel the stories that held me in a place of suffering after Leah died.

I found that my heart could hold the pain, and teach me how to be with my feelings, which eventually began to shift them.

I discovered that my heart is an alchemical vessel that can hold anything, no matter how big or painful or uncomfortable.

I learned how to get better at feeling my feelings.

Every time I was able to bring my feelings to my heart without the stories, I would receive blessings and grace, every single time. I was beginning to experience the alchemy of grief.

The alchemy of my grief journey allowed me to go deeper into those old childhood wounds, and heal them more fully. My daughter’s death provided me with the initiation necessary to fully excavate that light that was only a glimmer earlier in my life.

I found my voice through my grief journey and I learned how to take a stand for myself. I learned that when I speak from my heart I do not stutter. I learned that I can feel joy and pain at the same time; they are not mutually exclusive.  I became an author and a speaker. I uncovered that light that has always burned in my soul.

I am living the life I was meant to live.

Living the life I was meant to live means that I continue to be present to where life is calling me in each moment. That is the biggest lesson of my grief journey, and how I continue to honor my daughter.