My name is Emily Rowe. I am passionate about helping people who are sad and suffering to feel better so they can start living fully again.
Firstly, I want to start by saying that if you have found yourself here on my page, I am so sorry that you are suffering. I genuinely feel for you.
I have been there, trawling the internet for information that would console me.
Anything to remind me that others are also suffering and I'm not the only one shut out of the shiny Instagram/Facebook life that everyone else seems to be advertising.
A little background...
My first degree is in English Literature and History from the University of Sydney, Australia.
This was a good starting point in my studies of the human condition and what it takes to live a 'good life.'
By 'good' I mean authentic, truthful, reflective and compassionate. Far removed from the aspirations we are currently fed in our Western culture as a path to happiness. Most of us are caught in an endgame of acquisition and competition that will only ever leave us hollow.
We discover this bitter truth when we experience a massive loss. When the foundations of our comfortable existence are rocked to the core and we must re-evaluate and redefine what matters to us.
I had to learn to live honestly, in accordance with my principles and values. I was uncompromised by comfort or convenience because they were feelings I could no longer access in my grief.
I found out grief is a bigger picture. Grief is a bigger story.
The life shattering event that set me on this new life path was the unexpected death of my husband Matthew Carney. He was only 44 years old.
Only months before his death, on my 42nd birthday, he asked me what gift I hoped for.
I laughed and said,
"Well according to "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" 42 is the meaning of life, so that's what I'm hoping for,"
Fast forward to June 23rd 2011 and I am performing CPR on him on the living room floor. Too late. He was already gone.
The meaning of life? It is just this moment now. How do we reconcile the anxiety of knowing this with trusting our future as we adapt to the loss?
I was so afraid of facing my future alone.
How could I be in so much pain and not die from it?
Would I feel like this forever?
Could I care for our daughter and find a way back to peace? To joy? To gratitude?
I was so confused by the unexpected emotions that were coming up for me.
The unanticipated reactions from people around me.
The alienation from family and friends. I felt cast from my tribe for the stain of my sorrow. I embodied tragic loss and everyone avoided me.
I was getting in the way of everybody else's good time!
I struggled to make sense of the snippets of secondhand stories circulating.
The narrative of his life and death being hijacked by everyone else as they tried to make sense of this tragedy.
People around me tried to shape a story so they could resolve the shock and move forward into a future that felt so alien to me.
I was in shock. I lost my love. Why didn't the world stop turning?
I was completely overwhelmed with this cliff edge of a new life.
The life Matt and I were sharing, filled with creative vision, focus and love gone. In a split second.
The movie had ended and the film reel was spinning and crackling on a projection of the future speckled with smudges and dust motes.
I could not see a clear way forward. I was suffering through circumstances beyond my control and I had to somehow come up with the energy and insight to make creative decisions about my life going forward.
And all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and disappear.
But I didn't. I took myself back to school and received my Bachelor of Applied Social Science in Counselling and Psychotherapy from The Jansen Newman Institute on a full scholarship.
Somehow, I managed to care for our daughter Calpurnia, complete my degree and work through what were definitely the darkest days of my life so far.
My wound, my loss, set me on a path that explored all the major traditional schools of psychotherapy where I begged, borrowed and stole whatever ideas that gave me some solace. Some relief.
I was naturally drawn to some modalities by virtue of my interests. Narrative Therapy, Somatic Therapy and Existentialist Therapy in particular were useful as I processed the seismic shift of losing my husband and my own identity as his beloved.
I slowly started to resolve the trauma of separation and re-authoring my life going forward.
I learned to accept uncertainty as the only defining ground rule of my existence.
Through learning to accept life the way it is and choosing to not be defined by my loss, I discovered my resilience and was able to reimagine a different future.
I have found a way back to living fully again. But it's a totally different life. I'm a totally different person.
It has taken time to grieve my expectations not being fulfilled, 'my growing old gracefully together' vanishing in a breath and a heart beat.
The cycles of pain, processing and acceptance are fewer and far between and I know now that the sorrow I experience momentarily is the measure of the great love I was capable of giving and receiving.
"Know love, know life. No love, no life."
What I have learned is that my response is my choice.
Your response is your choice.
We can focus on the primary factors that shape our lived experience, and we can achieve a sense of peace and understanding at a faster rate than if we follow the traditional adage that,
"Everyone grieves in their own way."
I would say that,
"Everyone is isolated in grief in their own way."
This isolation can be relieved by understanding the complex web of systems and beliefs we are bound by. The social taboos of death, loss and shame in our Western culture.
We struggle with our emotions.
We struggle with the emotional insensitivity of others.
We struggle with our stories.
With our narratives locked in the trauma vault and our memories failing us.
With people around us forcing their stories upon us to make themselves feel better.
We struggle with change.
Change that we can't control as we must surrender to the hand fate has played us.
Changes we must make in order to reintegrate into a world that is missing our partners, or our families, or our health.
Because the challenge of grief is not just in death.
It may be a divorce or a bad breakup.
It may be a diagnosis of a life debilitating illness.
It may be estrangement from family you once considered close.
It may be the pain of your expectations in life not being met.
We give grief lots of other sanitised names as in our modern world we are fearful of the melodramatic.
We like our pain to be sanitised and anaesthetised. Cauterised and objectified.
We are offered pills that don't help and counselling that allows opportunities to vent, but no solid tools to help clarify what this loss means to you going forward. Tools to help you build this post loss life.
What are you going to do with this life of yours now?
Knowing what you know?
That no one is going to save you.
That companionship offers sweet dimensions to your life but you really are alone.
You are going to have to figure this out if you are serious about feeling better.
To feel alive again, you must figure out what 'alive' means to you. What a 'good life' means to you.
Are you ready to take this journey with me?
To experience a deeper, richer life through processing your grief?
I can help you.
With simple yet practical tools allowing you to take the healing step by step, and at the same time manage your unpredictable emotional state.
You will work with your emotions, with your stories, and start to cultivate your relationship with the inevitable changes you must make to move forward.
We will explore and refine the 'goodness' in this challenge you didn't ask for.
We will explore the inherent power of possibility when your life loses all predictability.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story - and if the message above resonates with you - reach out.
I’m looking forward to starting our journey together.
B.A. (University of Sydney)
B.A.S.S. (Jansen Newman Institute)