Any one else have issues caring about the opinions of others? We have all read the saying, “Other people’s opinions of us are none of our business.” I see that and think, YES! Now, I just need to believe it. Well, the opinions of others actually encouraged me to find my purpose after loss.
Things aren’t always as they seem. Deciding on a career change after loss has been a hard transition. Working after loss brings it’s own set of challenges. I’ve been on the receiving end of all sorts of comments from people I don’t know, even people I know. Just an example: shortly after losing Kyle, I cut back on my job hours to two days a week. Someone said to me, “Man you’re lucky…must be nice to only work twice a week”. To tell you the truth, I would work a 40 hour week every week for the rest of my life if I could undo what has been done to my family and our children. No, I’m not lucky. The days I was working, I was pretty much physically there, but that was it. I just went through the motions. I kept up with it for quite a while because everything there was “normal”. It felt the same, looked the same, still had all my same patients. I found a little comfort in that. The tipping point that may sound silly…..the office remodeled. It suddenly felt different. Cold. Unfamiliar. Some staffing changes accompanied the change…that didn’t help. That’s when I finally decided I needed to not care what anyone else thought, and let this job go.
Now what?! I swear, it felt like every day when people would ask me “What do you do?”. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “I AM DOING MY BEST, that’s what I do!”. Of course, I didn’t…that would have really shut the convo down. I went through months of being lost, depressed, revisiting low points that I thought I had gotten past. I needed a purpose after loss. Yes, I am a mother and a wife, but I needed to fill a void that the accomplishment I used to feel at work, helping and caring for others, gave me.
Then, there was Amber. A Naturopathic Doctor in Edwardsville, IL http://www.iliveinwellness.com who was recommended by a friend when I was discussing my husband’s gluten sensitivity. I can write a blog post alone on what happened after that. Actually maybe I will!! I digress. Anyway, I became close with Amber and now I love that I can call her a close friend. After telling her about this idea I had about donating custom memory boxes and sympathy gifts to first responder families, she asked the obvious, “Why not?”. She grabbed a sheet of paper and basically said I know a person for this, this, and this; let’s all have dinner and talk about it. I was so excited! Maybe this was my purpose after loss.
I spent a couple weeks gathering and planning on how I could possibly get total strangers to understand my idea, my passion. I was SO nervous walking into Wang Gang with my make-shift “box with sympathy package” and my written out presentation. I presented my idea to this group of about 10 people (all way more experienced than I in the business world–talk about Shark Tank nervous!). I totally expected to hear disappointing feedback. Not the case. I was actually shocked. I had half the room in tears and you could see the excitement and encouragement in their eyes. I continued to meet with almost this same group of people on and off for the next 3 months or so. They gave me guidance, insight, encouragement, pros and cons, and hope; Hope that the void I had been feeling, to give back, would be filled. One that will take my experience and maybe expedite comfort to those who are walking the dark path of grief. The best way I can explain that feeling, is standing in a completely blank room, nothing but walls, ceiling and floor, no sound, and no feeling. Just blank and numb. It’s a awful, horrible, lonely feeling of “Now what?”. After consulting with one of my best widow friends, Liz, and explaining my idea and the need for a name for the keepsake boxes, she suggested the name Comforting Keepsakes. That was it. A business was born and I now hope I can fill that void with a purpose after loss.
Until the next naptime…
Sarah Deatherage Steele
I am a Mom of 3, re-married widow, dental hygienist, fresh food snob, grief supporter for widows, and the creator of Comforting Keepsakes Sympathy Gifts. My husband, AJ and I hand make and finish every detail of our Memory Boxes, in our garage! I love my family and friends, second chances, exploring new places, and of course food!
Follow me! I don’t know what I’m going to do or say next, but if it’s worth typing, it must be worth something…