Get To Know Me
Professional Life Coach
I received my B.A. in Psychology and was certified from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.
I specialize in helping women who are feeling empty
and unfulfilled by teaching them how to reclaim their power so that they are excited about their life.
Grief to Grace
May 6, 2015 was the day that my life changed forever.
It’s been said that when something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let the event define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you. The events of May 6, 2015 did all three. Yet I believe there was a message for me in each and every one of those moments. In the end, I chose to let it strengthen me.
My husband Kevin and I were a young married couple very much in love. We bought a home and the cutest eight week old yellow lab puppy. After some pretty intense struggles with infertility, we gave birth to four healthy children ~ triplet boys and later, a fourth son. We were a truly blessed family, living a beautiful life. Kevin and I had everything we ever wanted. Life was amazing and we were so excited for what was ahead but what was ahead looked nothing like what was.
In late 2014, Kevin began complaining of some quirky annoyances. His tongue felt weird, he thought his speech sounded slightly slurred, and his legs were frequently cramping. I wasn't too concerned. He was a very strong, athletic man. He was our four sons’ football, basketball, and baseball coach. He was a healthy guy. But these peculiar symptoms bothered Kevin, so over the next 8 months, we saw a handful of doctors to try and get to the bottom of it all.
In May of 2015, while Kevin was being examined by a new doctor, he and I were laughing and joking and planning where we were going to have lunch later. And then, the unthinkable happened. The doctor completed the exam, sat us down, and told us that he was pretty sure Kevin was in the beginning stages of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The doctor explained that it would eventually take away Kevin’s ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow, and breathe. He told us there is no cure for this disease and that the average survival time is 3 to 5 years. His words were a cord wrapped around my neck that left me suffocating in disbelief and fear. Everything I expected my life to be and had wanted for my family was taken away in an instant.
Because of my fears and disbelief, I convinced myself that Kevin didn’t have ALS. I was sure he had Lyme disease. I believed he was misdiagnosed because many of his symptoms overlapped with those of ALS. There is no specific test to determine if a person has ALS and Lyme disease testing is unreliable. Over the next several weeks, I feverishly collected notebooks full of evidence that Kevin had Lyme disease. I carefully found doctors who I thought would tell us what we wanted to hear. I spent countless hours convincing Kevin that he had Lyme disease and I gave him every reason to believe me. If I wasn’t researching or convincing, I was talking or thinking about it. Over the next year and a half, we sought advice from more than 20 doctors, none of whom specialized in ALS. I allowed denial and determination to define me and this awful diagnosis. What was happening to Kevin defined my every move and every thought .I was in control.
After almost 2 years of numerous diets, vitamins, antibiotics, and IV’s, Kevin’s health declined. And I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. It was time to ask myself if I was searching for answers or running from the truth. So, I made an appointment with an ALS specialist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NY. He confirmed that, although Kevin may or may not have Lyme disease, he most certainly had ALS. We were right back where we started from almost two years ago. I had run a marathon only to get to the finish line and be told that the start line was right in front of me. I’m not sure if it was the certainty of the diagnosis or the inability to deny it that destroyed me.
After leaving NY, we went straight home. It was time to talk to our four boys and remove the false hope we so innocently and irresponsibly placed in their hearts. We sat them down and shared the certainty of the news. Everyone was quiet. The only words spoken were, “Mom, are you ok?” The question struck me as odd, almost insensitive. Why did my sons ask me if I was ok, and not their father?
In the days that followed, I felt extreme guilt. Why had I spent almost two years chasing control? Maybe Kevin would have been a candidate for ALS trials that would have slowed down the disease. We could have gone on family trips, made memories, used our time to be together and enjoy the time we had left. We did none of that. Instead, we followed a roadmap of fear and control.
I vividly remember the summer of 2017 ~ not for the cloudless blue skies, days at the beach, or a picnic in the backyard, but for loss, sadness, and regret. My tears could have filled a child’s pool that summer. My hopes, dreams, and the life I had imagined were all destroyed by three letters: A-L-S. I wasn’t sure who I felt sorry for most, my husband, my kids, or myself. For different reasons, I felt sorry for all of us and there was nothing I could do about it. I had painfully lost my grip onto the control that I never truly had in the first place.
At hospice, at around 2 am on April 18th, 2018, Kevin lost his battle with ALS. I arrived home an hour later and woke up one of my sons to tell him about his dad’s passing. Again, four words were spoken, “Mom, are you ok?” Over the next few weeks, in the chaos and aftermath of Kevin’s funeral and people visiting, these four simple words slowly became the key that unlocked my strength to get out of darkness and distress and into a better place. I realized that my boys knew that if I was ok, they would be too. The old roadmap of fear and control had been redesigned. My strength became the new map that we consciously followed. Being defined as a widow or “fatherless” would not destroy us.
So here I am, about a year after Kevin’s death. There are hard days, of course, but this is a practice of progress, not perfection. I now practice gratitude, focusing on all that I have in my life, rather than what I have lost. I focus on the fact that my children were raised by such an amazing father rather than the reality that they lost him. When Kevin was sick, I started to write about our journey and I have created and continued a social media page with inspirational quotes. I take long walks to a nearby park to practice mindful meditation. I practice yoga and purposely seek out things that bring me a sense of joy.
Today, comforted by pictures of Kevin throughout the house, our grief continues to be an ongoing process. There is no such thing as a finish line. The five of us live a different life but it’s a life we are learning to live with and each day, we find beauty in it. As much as we miss Kevin, we celebrate him. On the anniversary of his death, we redistributed the kind cards we gave out as his funeral. We asked that all who would like to participate, do so with an act of kindness in Kevin’s memory.
As I initially stated, there’s a message in every tragedy. Painful experiences do not need to define or destroy you. Sadness may visit but it doesn’t have to move in. Pain invites us to grow. When we allow ourselves to “be” instead of always trying to “do” or “control”, we are better able to hear our inner voice directing us towards truth, beauty, and happiness. Find the gift of strength that I promise lies within you.
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