My husband was killed in the Vietnam War in 1968. I was 22 years old and 7 months pregnant. After his death, I stayed very busy, moved away from Illinois, and devoted myself to creating a new life for my daughter (born 6 weeks after his funeral) . Little did I know that “being busy” was my coping mechanism to avoid the denied feelings that were buried inside of me.
The years following Howard’s death were punctuated with one loss after another. Grief was chasing me, but I always outran it. It finally caught me in 1990 at the age of 45, when I suffered one loss too many and fell into a severe depression. My daughter did not recognize me. My choices were: to do the grief work or end my life. I chose to do the grief work because I could not destroy the only parent my daughter had despite the emotional pain I was experiencing at the time.
In December 1999 when I held my published book in my hand, I had completed the second aspect of recovering from trauma, “remembering, and mourning.”
Having lived over half of my life in the first stage of grief, “Shock & Denial”, is it any wonder I’m committed to supporting others in grieving sooner rather than later?
In the last 16 years I’ve attempted to reconnect with ordinary life and “make meaning of the trauma.” I welcome opportunities to share my story through public speaking, leading workshops and facilitating others in reconciling loss. Feel free to contact me by calling 707-578-4226 or email me at the address below. Denied grief doesn’t go away, it just goes underground.
Three essential ingredients in healing from sudden loss:
1. Establishing a safety zone. (a safe place to grieve)
2. Remembering and mourning ( doing the emotional work to recover)
3. Reconnecting with ordinary life, and making meaning of the trauma (offering what you’ve learned as a gift to others experiencing similar trauma)
Grief Denied: A Vietnam Widow’s Story, is
available in soft cover for $14.95 , plus $3.00 shipping/handling (+$1.00 S/H for each additional book). Shipping is by Media Mail. (California residents add $0.82 sales tax per book.)
“Pauline is a wise-woman possessing a refreshing combination of compassion, humor and no-nonsense frankness. When she told me that I needed to be witnessed in my grief, it resonated deeply. She showed me how to “turn around and face the grief” of losing my father at 23. She helped me to touch this ancient pain, examine it, express it and release it. She has helped me to acknowledge the multiple losses from that time in my life and to see the effects of those losses on my adult experience. As I step into a life of greater confidence, trust and abundance, I know that I am forever changed by my summer of grieving with Pauline.”
Thank you for this year. I could not be where I am without you. My internal world-view is different. You have taught me self compassion, to cut myself some slack, and quiet the voice of my “inner critic”. I have become someone who can live by myself, be there for others but not at my own expense. You have the ability to press issues without berating. You have a good combo of tough and gentle; yet, you can’t be ignored. You helped me see a lot about myself and I didn’t get defensive. I am surprised by how much I have grown and changed in the past year.
Co-Active Life Coach
Life does not accommodate you; It shatters you.
Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be no fruition.
– – Florida Scott-Maxwell