Grief counselors and scholars often use the image of the journey to describe the personal movement required of a person to rediscover healing and wholeness. I will use the image myself as I talk about a healing path for clients to take to get from where they are to where they want to be. One of the really fascinating things about the healing path imagery is that one gets to visualize how our paths intersect with the paths of others on their own healing journey. |
In 2016, the Stillbirthday Homecoming celebration in Kearney, MO provided the occasion & opportunity for my path to intersect with the path of Laura O’Dell. Laura had just published “A Midwife’s Legacy” and so besides sharing slots on the program, we had adjoining tables for our respective books. As a midwife, a chaplain, and a massage therapist, Laura has cultivated a diverse and compassionate set of tools, both for her own healing path and to share with others as they cope with the pain and stress of grief.
Throughout our weekend of speaking, listening, and immersing ourselves in the stories of many women (and some men as well) who transformed their own pain of miscarriage or stillbirth into a mission to offer hope, support, and wisdom to other mothers in their own birthing journeys, we were given the opportunity to “pick one another’s brain” at length and with great success. Laura asked me many questions about the marketing aspect of book authorship, especially finding opportunities to share my work with receptive audiences at book fairs or professional conferences. And as my presentation incorporated some of the principles of breath awareness that I have learned both from my primary physician and from my Reiki therapist, phrases such as “engage the diaphragm” and “4x4x4 breath exercise” dotted our conversations frequently. For my part, Laura taught me about the connection between healing touch and reflective listening and how she uses both to calm and nurture her clients. And her gentle back massage, offered as a gift to any of the conference’s attendees was most appreciated and, for me at least, most needed and welcomed. Laura once wrote about this book as “walking through the dark into the light”. That’s a good description of grief and healing. Grief can often carry our minds and hearts to dark and scary places. And in the darkness, we can’t see the path to healing. And maybe that is what the job of a grief counselor should be; to gently help the griever feel the path and trust the counselor to support and guide the griever to move one step at a time through the darkness until the glimmer of light becomes visible: and then, to help the griever clear the boulders and thorny places along the path. It is my observation that Laura O’Dell is a most excellent guide and support when the path is dark, and I trust that this book will act for you, the reader, as a lamp to throw light upon your healing path, where ever that path may take you.
Steve Butler, Lenoir NC, 2017