I am excited to share some great news and a sneak peak with all my readers. One of the reasons you haven’t heard from me for a while is because I’ve been busy launching my career as a professional speaker. My most recent presentation at Barry University where I spoke to the students and some faculty was videotaped so I could share some of the highlights with you.
My topic, LIFE AFTER LOSS: Victim, Survivor or The Phoenix, was very well received by the attendees, all from the school of Social Work. Some of the reviews are shown here to illustrate the impact it made on them and what they took away with their experience. Although very young and just beginning their journey, I presented information that is endemic to their profession. Part of their learning is how to help their clients deal with loss and grief. It was also not surprising how many of them had already experienced the loss of a loved one. When asked how many had lost a loved one, every hand went up.
So the take away is that death is inevitable, certain and an unavoidable, inexorable part of life. No one escapes the loss of a loved one, be it a parent, sibling, child, family member, friend or even a pet. Using the grief model, I shared how I coped with my own loss, my 34-year-old brilliant, beautiful daughter, Pam, who plunged to her death from her father’s 15th story building on July 2, 1998. Although barely any of them are even parents, they understood every parent’s worst nightmare as I shared my journey through grief and healing.
I was clear to let them know that even though her death was considered suicide, it was not her choice. Her executioner was her mental illness that pushed her out the window. Having suffered from bipolar disorder 1 for more than ten years, Pam was delusional and succumbed to the illness that invaded her mind and destroyed her life. Bipolar I and the substandard health system were the culprits who caused her to fall through the cracks and lose her life.
My mission has been to morph the pain into purpose and to take the shame and stigma out of mental illness. It is to give my daughter’s life and death meaning as I help others who suffer from grief and loss. The choice to be a victim, survivor or a Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the ashes, is ours. I chose to become a Phoenix and by helping others, I continue to help myself.
Although I will never have closure, I have moved on and healed on my journey to recovery.