In April, I found myself sitting in a freezing cold, cramped hospital room in Knoxville, Tenn., holding my father’s hand while his closest friends and family members tearfully shared their final goodbyes.
A few hours later, it was just my mom and I hovered around dad’s bed telling him how much we loved him as we witnessed his breath become more and more labored and then stop. For 67 years he was here on this Earth – 45 of those years as a husband and 39 years as a father – but at the moment, he slipped away from us forever. For a long time, those final moments replayed in my head in an almost constant loop.
Until you’ve experienced the finality of death of a loved one, you can’t imagine the inescapable emptiness that you’re left to grapple with. The condition of grief is survivable but sometimes it’s so overwhelming you wonder if you will ever go back to normal.
In the past few months, I’ve found that answer is no. But what I have discovered is there are times of unexpected beauty – even magic – in the process of grief.
For a few years, I’d often see one of my neighbors, Rebecca Sacks, and her children in the pocket park in south Stapleton but never got to know her well. We would exchange short, polite pleasantries as we watched our kids play, then went our separate ways to head home for mealtime or naps.
It wasn’t until a few weeks after my father passed away that I saw Rebecca at the park again and we had a real conversation. I found out that she was a grief counselor and also a shamanic healer preparing to open her own private practice.
I was surprised to learn that Rebecca was trained to work with people in the midst of mourning – people like me. It seemed serendipitous. I had been feeling much more spiritually aware and open to things outside my “comfort zone” since my father’s death, so I decided to give shamanic healing a shot.
I previously had visions of a tie-dyed-T-shirt-wearing hippy going into a trance and feeding me psychotropic potions, but this was not like that at all.
Rebecca took her time with me to ensure I was comfortable and aware of what to expect before beginning the shamanic ritual. She also talked to me about my intentions and what I hoped to gain from the work. She is knowledgeable, is calm and caring and immediately made me feel at ease.
She made no promises to “cure” me and she was clear that she embraced modern medicine and all walks of faith. What she did tell me is that she could help repair my spirit and work with me to start healing from my trauma and grief. But I had to work through my grief on my own, too.
Yes, there was drumming, soft chanting, feathers, shakers and even “soul retrieval.” (Soul retrieval is when part of your spirit is returned to you.) No, it wasn’t weird and you will never be asked to ingest anything. It was beautiful and peaceful.
I continue to see Rebecca from time to time and I fully believe it’s helping me navigate the grieving process.
“With shamanic healing, I work with people who are open and want to ideally be invested in their own personal work,” Rebecca says. “Sometimes we need to work with what we have been given instead of working against it.”
If you’re more comfortable with traditional counseling, Rebecca focuses her counseling practice on grief and trauma, including loss of a spouse or family member and divorce. She also enjoys working with caregivers. See her counseling credentials here.
Rebecca is running a new client special of $10 off for your first visit if you mention Stapleton Scoop. Visit her website DenverHealingArts.com to learn more and to book an appointment. If you have any questions, email Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.