Grief, Healing & Resilience Spoken At Women’s Conference

The annual California Women’s Conference broke some barriers this week by having a panel discussion about grief and the resilience it takes to walk through and heal.  I believe this topic of grief spoken aloud with such a large public audience may be the start of acceptance.  As Maria Schriver said “we are a grief illiterate society and that people are not comfortable talking about grief or loss or any kind.” Her hope for the discussion was to teach and let everyone know they are not alone.  I share this goal through Heartache To Healing and by sharing stories like this, it shows that you are not alone.  We don’t all grieve the same, for the same length of time or even the same intensity, but as we have experienced loss – grief does follow.

Maria spoke about grief in terms I know all of you understand. She said “grief can cause a disconnect between how you feel and how you think you’re supposed to behave, and cracks your heart into little pieces.”

California First Lady Maria Shriver began her speech by sharing some of the feelings, experiences and emotions she had this summer after both her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and her uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s passed away.

Maria was then joined by an amazing  group of women living in every stage of grief: actress and dancer Lisa Niemi (widow of Patrick Swayze), actress Susan St. James, and  Elizabeth Edwards.

Shriver began by asking Lisa Niemi, wife of Patrick Swayze, if it’s easier to let go if you know death is coming.  Lisa shared that she thought the long months of her husband’s illness would help her get used to the idea of loss but it didn’t. When Patrick’s death came, it made the “sadness and grief prior to that look like an intellectual concept.”

Susan St. James lost her son Teddy in a plane crash five years ago.  Shriver asked her, “Listening to Lisa, is the pain five years later still the same?”

Susan says it is and shared how she once told her husband that if she ever lost a child she’d never speak again.  But of course, right after the crash she had to deal with it.  “You take your character and then you choose how you’re going to go on.”

Elizabeth Edwards lost her son 14 years ago and she says, “The truth is you honor somebody by taking whatever greatness they had in their life and incorporate it…translate it into your own life as you move forward.”

Edwards went on to share, “You’re not going to get over it.  You’re never ever going to get over it.” And you don’t know what the trigger will be.  She shares how she dissolved into tears last week when she saw a picture of a young woman that’s the age her son would be right now. But you try to turn these things into something positive.

Maria also made the comment that “so many people don’t know what to say” and asked the panel about things that were said to them, the funniest being Susan St James who said that some guy said to her that he understood her loss because his dog died!

Maria Shriver ended the discussion by saying the most important thing is that the grieving process hasn’t beaten these women, “And you’re an inspiration to all of us.”

I encourage you to take a half an hour to listen to the interview you will find on this LINK. Click the play button on the viewer, the video starts with several other interviews, that personally I found very worthwhile, but should you want to skip forward to the interview with Maria Schriver move the slider on the timer to 1:22 minutes.

Maria Shriver, Elizabeth Edwards, Susan Saint James, Lisa Niemi

Maria Shriver, Elizabeth Edwards, Susan Saint James, Lisa Niemi

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2 Responses to Grief, Healing & Resilience Spoken At Women’s Conference

  • I want to know how i can buy the DVD on this conference!

  • Thank you for your website, and for your post about the California Women’s Conference panel. The resource link you provide is well worth following.

    The Elizabeth Edwards suggestion…

    “The truth is you honor somebody by taking whatever greatness they had in their life and incorporate it…translate it into your own life as you move forward.”

    …is not only one of the best ways to balance the joy and the pain, but a process through which we realize they are parts of the same whole. The more of our own inner resources and courage we can access, the more moving forward becomes possible. That’s quite hopeful.

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