When I was 19 years old my mom was killed in a workplace accident. For most of my life it was just us two and she was my everything. The first year without her was like a fog. I felt I was just trying to get through each day with my head barely above water. Drowning in heartache, sometimes breathing felt like too much effort let alone wanting to go outside with a hole in my heart I thought everyone could see. Among the whirlwind of trying to find my new place in the world, I was still dealing with “teenage things” like a messy breakup with my first love, trying to finish my first year of university and working at my first restaurant job. So many Firsts. After the loss of a loved one the idea of Firsts becomes a magnified significance. First morning without them. First one month. First birthday. First Christmas. First one year without them. All these Firsts experienced through a rawness and an unfamiliarity.
After enduring the Year of Firsts, I entered into the second year of my grief journey coming out of the fog. Unfortunately, I was hit with more depression and sadness because the reality of her never coming back settled deeper. I then began to seek support and started volunteering at a bereavement helpline. Moment by moment I was moving into my new normal filled with ups and downs, beauty, laughter and new experiences. I felt like I was finally catching my breath, re-establishing my stride and then, at the age of 21, I received the call that my beloved father died of a drug overdose. He was an amazing father and unfortunately suffered from addiction most of my life. Hearing the news I always feared left me shattered and angry. Feeling winded and betrayed by life, I couldn’t understand why the people I love the most were being taken from me so soon. Even among the support of friends, family and compassionate strangers I felt defeated and so alone. Along with laughter, exercise seemed to help me the most, and for curiosity sake I began to try yoga.
Like others, I was intimidated by the practice. It was definitely not love at first try, or second… or third, but I was starting to feel a shift. As I was entering this new world after loss, I was entering a new world within me. I realized how much I was living in my head and had to face what I was trying so hard not to feel. It was hard to be in my body, hard to quiet my thoughts and hard to feel the truth that loss leaves. But eventually coming to my mat became a safe haven. Without knowing it, I was physically moving through my emotional pain. Moving through my grief. Feeling strong in my body made me feel stronger in the world. I started to feel and learn that the rawness I felt from my losses didn’t make me fragile; it made me embrace vulnerability, enjoy connection, shift my perspective and flooded me with empathy. My personal experiences and interests eventually led me on the path of Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy.
My losses brought me into a world I didn’t know existed and now that I’m in it, I want to be inspired and strengthened by it. My world felt like it crumbled; looking back it made sense to rebuild from the ground up. From the body up. From the rawness into beautiful imprints. From the isolation into connection. From the losses into possibility. The continuum of this practice continues to help me on my journey and I hope to help you on yours.