Hi. I’m Emily Rowe, and I help people when they’re sad to feel better, and begin to feel alive again.
Why do I do this?
It’s a question I sometimes ask myself, because I get caught in what it is that I do, and I love what I do. I really, really love it.
But I do remember back in the earlier days, especially when I was studying, when I was doing my degree, I made a decision that I did not want to do grief counselling.
I was dealing with so much in my life, personally, the idea of being around other people being in pain just seemed like terrifying.
I thought that my grief was something that I was just going to move away from, that it was going to dissipate in time and I would go back to being a happy person.
Now, that is true and not true.
My grief has dissipated, but it has only dissipated because my entire perspective around its role in my life, and how it’s informed me going forward has allowed for it to happen.
It wasn’t like I was struck down with a virus and I was going to get over it and then not want to go around anybody that had that virus as well.
If I’m going to use the analogy of a virus, I could say that I was struck down by this virus, and then I recovered from it, but I also had immunity, so I was in a position to be able to help people with their symptoms and be around them, without it affecting me and re-triggering my response.
My personal philosophy is that we only ever learn when we are being confronted by challenges.
When everything is easy, we can build constructs around it and our ego is so quick to step in and assume that the reason why our life is easy is because we must be doing things right … when there are all of these variables that are going to affect us that we have no control over.
Our ego doesn’t have a say in whether somebody we love dies, or whether a relationship falls apart through no fault of our own, or somebody asks for a divorce.
These things are places where you have to surrender to the situation.
You have to take it onboard, acknowledge that you are powerless in the face of it.
At that moment, you get to decide whether you’re going to become bitter, or whether you’re going to become better.
Now, oftentimes, the journey through grief is both; it’s bitter and better.
Now, personally, for me, the bitter was not so much due to my experience, because I had faced a lot of challenges before.
There had been instances of trauma and difficulties that I had to overcome, and I was still overcoming, when I lost my husband, Matt.
I have to say that the bitterness was really born of the lack of support around me, and how difficult it was to feel understood in regards to what was going on for me.
It was an incredibly painful place, because it was the first time in my life that I realised that although I could have people around me and not feel alone, I was still extremely lonely and that nobody was looking at it through the same lens that I was.
So that was a real turning point for me.
That moment of realising that I was alone in this was one of extreme desolation and distress.
But on the flip side, it was also one of extreme liberation and excitement slash fear.
Now, until I’d worked through a lot of my trauma response and figured out how to manage my heart and my mind and my soul in a way that I was a little more calm about going forward into each day, it took a while for my fear to become excitement.
I am so grateful that I am finally at this point where I can offer resources to people and help them.
I’m so relieved that I have been able to navigate this path and come up with tools and ideas and observations and reflections that have really helped me and I hope are going to help other people.
We all meet this phrase when we’re sad and we’re disappointed from other people, which is, “Everyone grieves in their own unique way,” or, “I don’t know what to say.”
Those responses reinforce our isolation and make us feel terribly alone.
But what if we were to flip our head on that? What if we were to look at it in this regard?
I just read an article today that was about midlife crisis, about how people set up their lives, they follow the social code in terms of their education, and their qualifications, and their job, and getting married, and having children, and buying a house, and ticketing all the boxes.
And then as they get closer to 50, they start to have this existential crisis, this overriding idea starts to fill their mind with, “Is that all there is?”
And there’s lots of acting out that happens with that. Often times, marriages fall apart, people take up extreme sports, they buy sports cars, they have affairs.
There’s all different ways that people do … a lot of women go and get a ton of plastic surgery, thinking it’s going to make them look younger than what they are.
There’s all different ways that people try to compensate for this huge existential question of, “Is that all there is?”
Because they followed the external rules.
They’ve followed this outline that they’ve been given of how to live a good life, and what it is that they’re going to do that’s going to make them happy.
And they’ve jumped through all the hoops, and they’ve gotten everything that they were told was going to make them happy, and there’s still this massive hole there.
Because the first thing that they really needed to be asked to do was to figure out what makes them happy.
To realise that the formula is not something from outside of yourself, it’s something within yourself.
My journey, my dark night of the soul, I lost everything.
I lost everything.
But in losing everything and letting go, rather than white-knuckling it and holding on tight and being fearful of the loss, just getting trapped in the loss …
The decision to let go opened up the space for me to reimagine and reinvent what I wanted my life to be going forward.
And I didn’t have any grand vision, back then, that I would here at this point in time now.
I just took it one baby step at a time, just one thing fed into the next thing.
I was inspired to go and study, to do my Bachelor of Social Science in Counselling, due to having a raft of really inept and inappropriate conversations with people that I thought might be able to offer me some solace when I was grieving.
And then going to see one therapist in particular, the first therapist that I went and saw.
She was just really unable to keep a boundary between my pain and what was going on for her.
And I thought, “Wow. This person has no idea what they’re doing. I’ve come out feeling worse and she took my money.”
I thought, “I’m going to give this a go.
I’m going to go and get myself educated.”
And I did that, and I really enjoyed doing it and I enjoyed learning about all of the different schools of therapy; the humanistic, and psychodynamic, and Freudian, and narrative, and CBT.
There were just a ton of different schools that we learnt, all of them, across the board, the history of, which was great.
But I really struggled with one of the big central premises about counselling, which is basically, you pick a team.
It’s a bit like football, you pick a team, you choose a therapeutic model that you decide is going to be your way to treat people, and you stick to it, guns blazing, and that’s what you do.
I thought there was a little bit of a disconnect here with how you support people, because if somebody comes to you and they connect and they lock in from a different mode of communication as opposed to the model that you’re using, then you’re sunk.
There isn’t one model that absolutely covers all of the heartache and healing that humankind needs.
So I decided that I was going to beg, borrow and steal from all of them and come up with a way to assist people in a solution-focused way.
Solution-focused therapy is another thing, but it’s not fully-fleshed out, I think, to embrace the processing that has to happen with a grief journey.
I became one of those things that all purists sneer down their noses at, which is an eclectic practitioner.
That’s considered to be maybe a lazy form, or people just feel like you’re a bit wishy-washy, that you’re not prepared to live and die by the therapeutic school that you have chosen.
But I, long ago, stopped giving a shit about what other people think, so whatever it takes to help somebody feel better is the method that I’m going to use.
And all of the scientific posturing around the studies and how it enables people, as far as I’m concerned, is rubbish, because this role of being somebody that helps people heal, understanding how to deal with the pitfalls and struggles in life, and how to apply that suffering to an understanding that will help them live more fully going forward, is an art.
It’s not a science. It’s an art.
And the sooner we start to feel more comfortable around the idea of it being something a little more freeform, more like jazz, then the easier it’s going to be for people to reach out and feel comfortable.
Because this idea that you’re not coping, or that there’s something wrong with you, it’s a very terrifying one to have.
Most people don’t like to feel that there’s something wrong with them.
And then when they do feel it, they feel like a broken person, not somebody in a challenging situation.
And that’s not helpful.
It’s not helpful to say that people should be afraid of their vulnerability.
Our vulnerability is the place where we get to really make friends with ourselves, forgive ourselves, understand how other people’s vulnerability inhibits them from true intimacy and connecting.
That’s it from me.
I just wanted to share with you a little bit about my journey in getting to this point in establishing the Good Grief Coach and the decision that I made to build this program to assist people.
I’ll probably do some other videos that go into a little more detail around different parts of that process.
But for now, I just wanted to share with you the dissatisfaction that I had with the models that were out there, that inspired me to create one for people to help them feel better, and start to feel alive again.
Thanks for your time and your attention, and I’ll speak to you soon. Bye.