Finding Meaning After Loss and Grief
Cathy Cheshire learned to be resilient after the death of her only two children, divorce, abuse, loved ones with addictions, relatives trying suicide, and estrangement from her family. After researching the diverse work of over 180 experts including psychologists and neuroscientists, she used her business degree, healthcare leadership experience, life coach certification, and grief counseling training from the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition to become a grief educator. Cathy created the Master Grief Coaching and Online Certification program as an option for comprehensive and concise grief training.
In 1995, Cathy and a sibling revealed being abused by babysitters when they were children. The denial and criticism from her parents and other siblings left her heartbroken. She has not seen them since then. Two people close to her had tried to die by suicide, and loved ones struggled with addiction. She pondered the meaning of her own existence and sought resources to help manage her life.
She endured three short marriages, each ending in tumultuous divorce. After her second marriage ended, Cathy raised their son Jeremy by herself. She worried about financial security while she immersed herself in providing for and loving her only child. Through books and therapy, she learned she was desperate for affection and viewed partners as she wanted them to be rather than who they really were.
She persisted through numerous painful breakups intent on taking the time to find the right life partner. In 2006, when Jeremy was 15, Cathy met Drew and finally found a truly loving relationship. His previous wife died in 1999 at age 36 from a blood infection when their son Ian was only 11. Cathy admired how Drew loved and was dedicated to his son who was 18 when she met him.
In 2007, Jeremy died instantly in a car accident when his friend driving lost control of the car. Cathy and Drew kept their plan to marry a month later, and he held her hand as she spiraled into a dark realm that terrified her. She had moments when she did not want to go on but was afraid to end her life. She realized progressing through jobs including Behavioral Helpline Director of Operations, Leadership Coach, Consultant, and Chief Executive Officer was to increase her self-esteem. It became clear that who she worked with was as important as the job she chose. She felt overpowered with negative thoughts, unfamiliar bad feelings, nightmares, and an increasing apathy for life.
Cathy lived in torment until she grasped the fact that checking-out of life and using short-term relief distractions were contributing to her suffering. She became determined to figure out how to feel happiness again. Using her exceptional planning skills and remembering self-help book principles, she designed and implemented an action plan to improve all the major areas of her life. She embraced life’s mysteries and fostered good habits. She overcame negative thoughts and became emotionally healthy. She broke away from dysfunctional relationships while nurturing the best connections she has with people. She realized the importance of fun and service to others.
There was a synergy in achieving her prioritized objectives, and it propelled her into an existence she never thought was possible. Her life became filled with love and joy once again. She experienced a renewed sense of well-being, and an excitement for the future all interwoven with immense gratitude. The more she does what she values, the less often negative emotions are triggered. She can be happy for others because she most often loves everything about her own life. She went from robotically living to be conscientious about everything. She felt her efforts were well worth the work, which became easier as she unlocked her potential.
Cathy learned the more you love someone wonderful, the greater the pain when they die and how it’s worth it to take that chance. Realizing the impermanence of physical form, she awakened to spiritual possibilities. She cherishes time with loved ones and thoughtfully speaks her truth. She has learned that forgiving is self-care and involves letting go of wishing the past had been different. She discovered the value of living in the present moment, no longer regretting the past or worrying about the future. Feeling prepared to handle inevitable loss and difficulties, she focuses on meaning rather than unyielding pain.
She learned how to use her sensitivity, intuition, and empathic ability to feel energy as strengths to enhance her life and inspire others. She has deep compassion for those suffering and realizes the importance of respecting one’s individual journey through life. Cathy understands how valuable it is to be knowledgeable about grief before loss. From personal experience, she knows how children may benefit from learning about thought and emotion at an early age.
In 2017, after a long illness, her husband’s only child died in the hospital at age 29 when a blood clot caused a stroke. Benefiting from studying the findings of top grief experts, the pain was the same as when Jeremy died, but she readily embraced her grief and was not afraid. Cathy and Drew knew the value of sharing their feelings and coping effectively as they kept living the wonderful life they built together, including continuing to embrace those they love in person or spirit. Drew is more naturally resilient, and Cathy learned it, so she put her grief knowledge into practice right away. She was able to experience despair and joy while grieving.
Motivated to continue cultivating her life, she made remarkable discoveries that enhanced how much she appreciates life. Cathy studied neuroscience research revealing how thought, emotion, and mindfulness may empower you to reach your goals, why her life action plan worked, how anyone can learn resilience, and why some people never change. She saw the importance of not creating bad mental and behavioral habits when grieving because of how challenging they can be to improve later. She explored body energy methods like the Emotional Freedom Technique (also called tapping) and Reiki, also learning why they are effective. She became skilled in following her heart rather than her mind, which lead her to the meaningful life purpose of supporting the bereaved.
Varied expert knowledge about grief is invaluable to anyone wanting to find their own way to heal and thrive after loss and there is an abundance of misinformation not based on research or professional opinion. Recognizing the need for more affordable, comprehensive, and concise grief training options to effectively inspire individuals who want to heal and for those wanting to support grievers, Cathy worked with an advisory board she admires and founded the online “Master Grief Coaching and Online Certification” training program.
Moving 17 times for jobs and relationships, Cathy has lived on the west side of the country and in the mid-west. She has been thriving for years, is happily married, and currently lives with her husband in Florida. They are animal lovers and have two rescued dogs named Benji and Petey. They enjoy spending time with loved ones, traveling, boating, snow skiing, and sightseeing on their motorcycle. Cathy balances her time between joyous personal moments and supporting others in finding the way to their own light.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Jeremy, Son 1991 – 2007
Jeremy loved music and taught himself to play guitar. He loved skateboarding, wakeboarding, and snowboarding. He was passionate about what interested him. He had a great sense of humor and loved to joke around. He was amazing at computers and video games. He deeply loved all of his family and friends. Some of his friends would fondly call him curly. He had intuitiveness about understanding the importance of cherishing every moment with those you love. He would want everyone to remember the happy memories and live life fully like he did.
Ian, Stepson 1988 – 2017
Ian graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree majoring in history and minoring in psychology. He was bright and full of potential. He loved history, writing, snow skiing, traveling, and adventures. He knew how to have fun, was full of humor, and loved to make others laugh. Many feel blessed to have shared good times with him, calling him a wonderful friend or like a brother to them. There was so much love between him and his family and friends in life. He now is at peace with the mom he dearly loves. He is a guardian angel showing us how important it is to cherish the time we have with our loved ones still here.
Bricks on Main Street
Sturgis, South Dakota