Discover more about our authors from volume two. In this diverse group of strong women and their stories, may you find hope and inspiration as you navigate your own journey.
My story is about a sister who goes to great lengths to save her brother from himself. Unfortunately, his addiction spirals out of control and he overdoses; leaving behind a broken family and a sister who struggles to overcome the darkness that becomes her life. At the start of her journey she learns that she is alone; her family could not be the source of support she needed. Her unrelenting grief and stress led to physical conditions requiring treatment and hospitalization. As her journey progresses she learns that support can come in many alternative and sometimes even surprising ways. As she mends the pieces of her broken heart she learns that life, even a fulfilling and loving life, is possible after tragedy.
I decided to share my story as I never want anyone to suffer the pain of loss alone. Many people do not understand grief and the incredible impact it can have on us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I know that I, a trained psychotherapist, did not anticipate the roller coaster of emotions that shook me to my core after my brother died. I am sorry for your loss but so glad you found this book. May it provide you comfort and strength when you need it the most.
Melissa Coyle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R) in private practice and has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years. She works with adults on a multitude of issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, coping skills, grief and loss. She has a special place in her heart for grief and pet loss survivors and enjoys helping them transition from a journey of loss and pain to one of hope and growth.
In addition to being a psychotherapist, Melissa is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Certified Grief and Loss Specialist, Certified Pet Loss Specialist and a Certified Telemental Health Provider. She has worked with several animal rescues, is a member of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) and is an active member of the charitable organization “100 Women of Huntington.”
Throughout my work as a therapist I have come to learn that there is a strong correlation between the mind and body. When appropriate I offer alternative treatment modalities. I am Certified in Reiki, EFT/Tapping and Mindfulness. I’ve also attended several series of classes on Spiritual Intuition, Chakras, Crystals, Seraphim Angels, Sound Therapy and am a Certified Angel Guide.
Melissa lives in Long Island, New York with her husband Mike and 3 rescue dogs - Peanut, Bo and Max.
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit her websites: melissacoylelcsw.com and petlosstherapistny.com
Instagram: grief_and_loss_therapist and petlosstherapist
For years I have been wanting to write my grief story. Suicide, cancer, drug addiction, divorce. Each one of them devastating on their own. My story encompasses all of these heartbreaks over a four year period. The road has been long and very difficult. Being the “fixer” in my family, I didn’t take the time to process my own emotions through my losses. Although I felt I was dealing with the grief, I was actually pushing it aside and taking care of everyone else as a way to avoid my feelings. I struggled with anxiety, sleepless nights, depression, and fear. But I am here to share that there is life after loss. I am here to bring hope to people who are walking through the darkest days of their lives. We can survive. We can find a measure of peace. We can find happiness and love after loss.
Gina is the mom to two grown boys, who through their resiliency, inspire her every day to live her dreams. She has been a public school teacher for over twenty years. She has worked with all grade levels teaching health, science and special education. Gina is a lifelong learner. Looking to branch out in 2011, Gina expanded her horizons by becoming a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her passion for health and wellness led her to become an affiliate with The Juice Plus Company 12 years ago. She coaches others to make healthy lifestyle changes, create healthy habits, and live their own passions. Gina’s dream is to teach as many people as possible about the brain gut connection, how this connection affects our mental health, and how to use whole food nutrition to heal the body and the mind.
Tik Tok: @beautiful_soul0331
Jenell Bianchini is a native Floridian and lives less than 45 minutes from her sons and their families. It’s a great comfort to her to know they are near if she needs them. Her stepson lives in Chicago and they catch up by phone between his trips to visit. Her children and grandchildren are able to laugh with her and talk about Adam and it fills her with joy to know they can cherish his memory out loud each time they get together.
Her story is about love. How she found it, how she shared it, how she lived it and how she felt when she lost it. And while the story is about her, there would be no story without him.
Jenell is a Real Estate Broker, an event planner when needed, and has been a mentor to many women over the past 20 years.
She has been writing and journaling since she penned her first poem at age 10 and her passion for writing has grown to fill several trunks with a lifetime of words.
Jenell considers her faith, family and friends to be most important in her life and she hopes that her story resonates with even one person who may be struggling with grief and loss today.
She is grateful for the opportunity to add her story to this volume of Shining a Light on Grief and wants to thank Susan Lataille and the other women in this group for their invaluable input throughout the process.
This story is about the unspoken struggles of so many parents while building their family. It’s about the intense highs and lows of pregnancy, losses, miscarriage and stillbirth. It’s also about rainbow babies, hope and journey of healing.
I decided to take part in this book for many reasons. It almost seemed that the universe was leading me to this project. While it was incredibly intimidating at first to openly share such vulnerable moments and thoughts, I have high hopes that it will serve a greater purpose to help others in their grieving journey. I hope other parents can read this and know that they are not alone. In the meantime, it has been a surprisingly therapeutic experience for my husband and I to communicate about our losses in a way we have never been able to before.
My name is Chelsea Force, I am a proud mom of 2 (soon to be 3). I am an empath with a fierce love of life and a passion for helping empower others. I am a woman entrepreneur, and a life-long learner. By trade, I am a martial arts instructor at an innovative program that focuses on kids' confidence and leadership development. I also help adults regain their own confidence and feel their best through health and wellness. I am so grateful for this opportunity to have an impact and help others through their grief that silently affects so many. Thank you for reading, and feel free to reach out.
Facebook: Chelsea Hebert Force
When Susan asked me to share my story, she originally thought I would write about the loss of my Dad. But, whenever I considered sharing that story I felt myself being pulled in a different direction. I was being guided to share my walk with mental illness.
I realized as I mulled over sharing my Dad’s loss with you that I had been learning how to live with grief for years prior to his passing. Grief entered my world the day I learned that Abigail, my youngest daughter, was suffering from a serious mental illness and planned to take her own life. Although, it took me years to realize that grief was on this walk with me.
Each of our walks with grief is solitary in the sense that no two paths are the same, but the emotions we encounter along the way are universal. This knowledge that there is no one way to process grief and that I am not alone brings me comfort. My hope in sharing our story is that it brings you some measure of comfort and leaves you feeling less alone.
Abigail and I have come to realize that we were chosen to walk this path; so that through our healing we could help guide other mothers and daughters as they walk along theirs. This has led us to start a podcast called The Mother Daughter Journey, becoming licensed C.O.A.C.H. Principals Teaching Partners in conversations, an author, and soon-to-be public speakers.
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ours was a lifelong friendship that lasted 45 years, from little girls at the sandbox through the teenage years, college, marriage, motherhood, until Kris died at age 48, forever leaving a gaping hole in my heart. This story is one about the joys of having a best friend to dance through life with, until her 20 year battle with cancer took precious moments of our lives away. I’ve discovered that music can bring back the happiest times, and bring the smile back to my face - or trigger fresh tears, depending on the day!
I wanted to share this story because it might help others who have lost a special friend and may be reeling from the range of emotions that strike every time the memories come. I hope that readers might identify with our story and find some peace and comfort in the connection that your special songs and memories keep alive, when your loved one has passed on. Go ahead and make your playlist, long or short as it may be!
Michelle is an award-winning author, innovator and entrepreneur. After a career providing marketing strategies and services to clients, she is now working on a mobile platform that enables tourism-based scavenger hunts and self-guided tours, called “Fresh Maps”. Her podcast, “Get F.R.E.S.H.” promotes food and recreational experiences, highlighting special guests with joyful conversations.
Michelle is the co-author of the award-winning book, "The Sassy Ladies Toolkit for Startup Businesses” and a graduate of the College of Business at the University of Rhode Island, where she received her BS in Marketing and her MBA. She resides in Wickford, RI with her husband, Rich, and two college-aged children. She loves to cook, walk in the woods, photograph sunsets and sink into a chair on the beach with a good book! Connect with Michelle at www.FreshRebellion.com.
This story is about a unique sister connection. What one sister goes through during the last five years of her sister’s life. Patti started writing her story only a few months after her sister’s death. She hoped it would help her in her grieving process. She also wanted to share this story hoping to help others who have lost loved ones so close to them, and who they relied on so much for their love and guidance. Patti says the loss of her sister is so deep it’s like losing a part of herself.
Patti is retired and has lived in San Antonio, Florida since 2020. She is originally from Queens, New York and lived for thirteen years in West Warwick, Rhode Island, near her children. Patti is married to her childhood sweetheart, Michael, for 51 years. They have two wonderful children who they are immensely proud of, and four terrific grandchildren, who can do wrong!
Patti left college after 3 semesters to go to work and earn money so she and Michael could get married. She had many odd jobs over the years and eventually settled in to administrative work for a health insurance company. Patti worked her way up to a Director position and retired from health insurance in 2009. She then bought a small tutoring franchise and enjoyed helping students reach their potential.
Patti enjoys bowling and reading. She belongs to a book club and is involved in her community. She enjoys cooking and trying new recipes out on her husband. What gives Patti the most joy is spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Witnessing my own Mom being a "Warrior", my story begins with the loss of my little brother when I was ten years old and carries on through the years of multiple losses. Like others, I worked through grief and loss at my own pace with many highs and lows. My story, "God Only Gives You as Much as You Can Handle" highlights ways to include children in your grief and trauma as well as many lessons learned along the way.
Participating in writing this story has been very healing. The amount of loss in my life has been overwhelming but with great support, I have made it to this point and want to help others through their grief process.
Mary-Kate O'Leary is an Executive Director of a nonprofit called A Wish Come True. They grant wishes and provide resources to families that have a child with a life-threatening illness living in RI and MA. Mary-Kate can relate to these Wish Families from a sibling perspective as she has experienced extensive loss and trauma throughout her lifetime.
The first time I experienced death was when I was eleven. I can see the exact moment: my mom got home from work and opened the back door. I was standing in the doorway of the kitchen and said, “I’ve been trying to call you. Where were you?” She looked at me and so sadly said, “Auntie Tootie died.” She burst into tears – I had never seen my mother cry before.
After that, as I got older and into adulthood, older family would die, which you expect. I did lose a friend in high school to a violent death which was very difficult to accept. My dad died seventeen years ago, but he was older and ailing, so death was almost a gift. Then in 2009, I lost my son. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, but there I was. Living every parent’s worst nightmare.
Blake’s life story was not a happy one. I share it here because his life was so short and filled with anguish, disappointment and sadness and then he died. But, when he died, he was the happiest he had ever been. As you will read, when he was four years old, I took him away from his father and was only then allowed to see him every other week. This broke his heart. He lived with his broken heart until he met the love of his life in college. His life mission was fulfilled. It might have taken him until he was 75 years old to find his true love and trust love again, but it only took him until 21. His life was complete.
Since his death, he has been a frequent participant in my life. He is a great support for me and the mission I am fulfilling. Just last week, his father passed away. I know now that they are reunited and having a grand old time together in the hereafter. They both waited long enough to be together again.
Elizabeth Phinney is the author of the upcoming book, Thrive to 95 and Beyond, and an expert at Fitness After Forty Five™. You can find her at www.fitnessafterfortyfive.com.
Since my son's passing, I communicate often with his soul, from inside my head, mind-to-mind. I confer with Neil about my various projects, and, having sensed and accepted his input on writing his story, it seemed natural to confer with him about writing my story, which is deeply connected with his. My story takes the form of a letter written to him, and the narrative shares our spiritual connection. This approach helped me to tap into my feelings about how our life together, his cancer battle and his death affected me. I took much time and care to reflect on our mother-son relationship, all we had experienced together and the grief I have experienced since his parting.
The suppression of my deep heartache and bitter sorrow through the first year led to physical consequences. My grief became embedded in my muscle tissue and literally immobilized me. I had to seek help on multiple levels – physical, spiritual and emotional - to move through the pain and to the other side of it. That stage of my grieving process required me to recognize, fully feel, accept and embrace the emotions of loss, sadness, despair and incompleteness. This piece of writing has helped me to process these thoughts, experiences and underlying emotions in greater depth and move further along my path toward healing. This project has been transformational.
For the past ten years, Wendy Nadherny Fachon has been a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings, the popular “healthy living healthy planet” magazine. She has been researching and writing about alternative regenerative modalities, healing foods, stress management skills and spiritual work. Neil's illness occurred in the middle of this. She stopped writing to care for him and returned to writing after he died. Her hopes in sharing this story are to assist others in managing their own physical, emotional and spirituals needs and to show how writing can be integrated into grief therapy.
She has been a guest multiple times on Childhood Cancer Talk Radio to speak about DIPG Awareness, Right to Try policy and The Jester & Pharley Phund. I host my own podcast series, Story Walking Radio Hour. Beyond this, I invite readers to check out my children's book, The Angel Heart, a spiritual and emotional story about a flower, written to help young children and parents through sad times to rediscover the joy, love, light and beauty of life.
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