The Letter


A while ago, I took a little writing course. One of the exercises I had to do was write a letter to myself (from my future self), one that I’d read, back in time. Of course, I had to choose the most difficult day of my entire life to send this letter to: the day after Brian took his life. 
I found this exercise most powerful and healing. I will incorporate this into my Coaching sessions as I think it’s valuable to people. 
Feel free to give it a try. 

May 11, 2017

Hello me,

It’s me…

You’re reading this the day after that really bad thing happened (May 12, 2015). That’s what we (as in- you and I) ended up calling it. Sometimes we simply can’t bear to speak it out loud. It’s been two years. In fact, today is the 2nd anniversary of his death.

I know you’re in shock. I know this is the very worst thing that has every happened in your life. We both know there have been a lot of very bad things – this one tops all of them. I believe with all my heart we will never have to deal with anything this terrible, ever again. That’s a good thing because I don’t think you/we could survive it.

Right this moment, you’re torn apart and your heart just went through a rusty shredder. It’s been hurled all over the place, bits and pieces of bleeding muscle and everything is soaked in your tears. The very sky is dripping with sadness in spite of it’s perfect spring-blue. The cherry trees are still blooming and a warm west wind blows in to ripple the Pacific, but all you see is black.

I want to explain a few things to you so that eventually, you can take back something that you had so strongly before this happened: Hope.

Our love for him was enormous, vividly deep and hope was our wings; we defied everything. We felt it would carry us and him through those dark and inky days. We were wrong about that because it was never our choice. It was always his.

I need you to know that hope lives on and that this pain will ebb back into that depthless sea from which it came. Like a shadow moving through the light, it will take on many forms, grow, recede and finally it will only follow you around, a ghost, catching your attention, now and then, instead of staring you right in the face as it’s doing now – screaming that this CAN’T be true, there MUST be some sort of mistake because Brian CAN NOT be dead.

You’ll eventually come to terms with this and please know that he is here, always with you, always sending you signs and he hasn’t stopped. He won’t unless you ask him to.

I want you to understand that we made it through the fire. Oh yes, we walked right on through the centre of agony and didn’t stop. We just kept on moving forward even though it was excruciating and when we emerged, black and scorched, we turned back to look but the fire was gone. We’d used it all up, consumed it in our grief. There was nothing left but our smoking footprints to show us where we’d been.

We’d made it.

YOU, will make it. You HAVE made it and even though there are moments when you are raw again, broken apart and the tears flow like muddy rivers…you never let go of that hope. It carries you, it cradles you and now it leads you to where you’ve always needed to be.

So, cry and sob and be angry. Scream, weep softly and know you loved like you’ve never loved in your life. Remember him. Speak his name, often. He’s around and you can feel him in the stillness of the morning, just before the birdsong, moments before the first rays of dawn and seconds after the darkest part of the night.

Hello me…it’s me. Today is the first day that he’s gone – really gone… you feel as if you, too, may leave this world from your torn apart heart. You won’t. You’re still here, better than ever. Hope, your love, his love, all that brought you here and all those days yet to be born, are waiting just for you.

So…what would you say to your past self if you could send a letter from the future? 
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The Aftermath of Suicide


It’s been two years to the day that the man I loved ended his life; an odd anniversary of sorts and there is still so much to say and so much that I’ve already said. I feel, sometimes, that I’m endlessly repeating myself.

So, I’ll be somewhat brief.

If you’ve known someone or loved someone who has experience with losing a person to suicide, or intimately understand what it’s like because you’ve been through it…

Be gentle. Be kind and be empathetic to those that have survived and yourself, if you – like me, have learned to live with it.

You see, that’s all you can do; live with it. You don’t get over it and you don’t forget about it just because it’s behind you. You live with the stigma of suicide around you, every day.

I’m not a grief counselor but I will become an educator. This happens so much more often than I was ever aware of and I’m guessing most people are not aware of the staggering statistics.

Why? Because we, as a society, sweep it under the carpet. It’s a dirty little secret and we talk in hushed, whispered tones, quickly looking around to make sure we are not overheard.

“Did you hear? He killed himself…”

Then, everyone not involved, goes about their daily life and tries not to think about it. Yup. We typically don’t reach out to the survivors, we don’t try and understand mental illness; we try and forget about it if it didn’t concern ourselves directly.

Before Brian, I’d never had any experience with suicide, suicide grief or had known anyone close to me who’d chosen to leave the world by their own hand. So, I can’t say that I was any different, or any more compassionate. Honestly, I can’t remember if the topic ever came up.

My point is that it’s not a fault of the individual; it’s the fault of our culture and the lack of education and understanding.

So I will become one of the educators because I really need to. I need people to understand that you can’t get over it. It lives with you, daily. It becomes a part of you and rather than reject it, I choose to embrace it.

I choose to take this experience and make something positive out of it.

Brian’s life mattered. ALL lives matter, no matter what our exit strategy is out of this world.

So please, don’t pretend it doesn’t happen. Don’t avoid the topic or whisper about it.

YELL IT OUT.

Everyone needs to know and learn about mental illness and how to help those that are suffering.

Because it can kill.

Just like cancer.

Just like any other disease known to humans.

It’s time to make this a priority and stop pretending it’s not a massive problem.

Suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable deaths.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people of all ages. In 2009, it ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death, preceded only by accidents (unintentional injuries).

In memory of Bri

When Someone Ignores You


I think I’ve written about this topic, before, but it was quite some time ago.

Recently, a friend of mine, asked me what to do or how to react if the man she’s currently dating doesn’t respond to her emails, texts, etc. I could tell this upset her and, why wouldn’t it?

NO ONE enjoys being ignored. No one.

So why do we do it? Why do we think it’s okay to be disrespectful when we typically hate it when it’s done to us? As I’ve been in the sales world for 30-years, I’m very used to people not getting back to me. It’s a priority thing – I’m trying to sell them something/pass along information, and they don’t always have the time or need to get back to me.

I get that, as annoying as it is, I get that. However, I make it a practice to always be polite and respectful of sales reps reaching out to me. No matter how cheesy they come across, how insistent they are, or how presumptuous, I can’t find it within myself to be mean. Mean/rude people, no matter how you want to justify it, are just that: mean and rude.

You can make whatever excuse you want to, explain yourself away by saying you’re teaching that person a lesson (how kind of you!) etc., etc…but there simply is no justification to be impolite to someone who is just trying to make a living.

Not everyone is lucky enough to not have to cold call or email strangers to make ends meet. It’s great that you make all your business through word of mouth but at some point, you will talk to someone out there and tell them about YOU and what you DO. That, my darlings, is selling. It’s relationship selling, but it’s selling.

All of this said, it’s often the ones closest to us, our friends and family, that think it’s perfectly okay to not get back to us, or take weeks to do it. We’ve heard it all.

I lost your text.

No, you didn’t. You purposefully deleted it and then forgot about that person or chose to not reply.

I thought I emailed you back.

If you have that many personal emails to respond to, make a list and set aside some time to respond to those who you mean something to. We’re all busy. We all have better things we can/should be doing and we can all set aside 30 min. to type out a few quick emails. Even if it’s just to say: “I’m super busy! I haven’t forgotten about you…and will respond when I’ve got some more time. Xox”

Now, if you know me and are reading this and think I may be talking about you (and you’re now upset) you very well may be guilty. If you are, put yourself in the place of someone who gets ignored, and think about how that makes you feel.

Pretty crappy, right?

When you ignore someone, you’re telling them that they don’t matter to you. This leads to hurt feelings, anger, resentment and confusion. The result of this is that this person thinks you don’t care.

Clearly you matter to them! If you have someone in your life who doesn’t matter to you, time to cut them loose and save them some hurt.

Back to my friend. As she was clearly upset by this man ignoring her, I asked her why she spent time engaging with someone who wasn’t engaging with her. If your love interest can’t be bothered with you…why are they still your love interest? I can tell you they are not so interested in you!

Your takeaway is to really think how it affects others when you consciously choose to not respond when they reach out to you or take an unreasonable amount of time. How much time is unreasonable? Ask yourself how long you think it should take others to get back to you…

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Two Years Later


I blog a lot about Brian and how his suicide changed my life. However, this post isn’t so much about Bri, but more on how those changes have taken root and grown in the past (almost) two years.

It’s a little early as it’s two months away but the closer I get to the date, the harder it becomes, emotionally. Today, however, today I can write/talk about what’s happened in the span of almost 24 months.

Firstly, it DOES get easier. It really does. Not a lot, but I’ll take any tiny bit of peace I can get. It’s not that I still don’t think of him every day or get weepy when a song on the radio comes on that reminds me of him…but it’s a little less. I feel I’ve turned a corner on this grief and I wanted to share that with you.

If you’d met me pre-Brian and today, you’d definitely know that I’ve changed as a person – for the good and not so good.

I find that, for nice people, I’m more willing to do just about anything, should they ask. For jerks, I have zero tolerance and I tend to lose my temper, a lot. I’m mindful of my meltdowns and, for the most part, I can calm myself and not fall apart when something makes me irate.

From what I understand, this is still part of processing what happened. It’s getting less and daily meditation is helping.

I find that I’ve become an advocate, of sorts, and will not tolerate any jokes towards mental illness. I’m extremely sensitive towards people talking flippantly about suicide but I’ve also become more aware and caring as an individual. I do what I can for my fellow human and I find that I will cry, easily, over sad or touching pictures/events/videos/etc.

I FINALLY know what I want to be when I grow up! Yes, it’s taken 51 years, but better late than never, right? Had you told me I was going to be a Life Coach? I would have asked: what’s a Life Coach??

I believe in myself (my abilities) a whole bunch more, but my self-esteem still needs some work. No matter how many times my sweetheart assures me I’m NOT fat, ugly, old…(insert every female insecurity here) I have a hard time believing it’s true. Pre-Brian, I was pretty certain I was doing really well and for 49, thought I was hawt! Now, I’m not so sure how I feel about ‘me’. Part of it has to do with that Woman, whom he was still smitten with and who broke his heart (which lead to his premature demise)… and part of it has to do with getting older. Starting Menopause has not been a whole hell of a lot of fun, I can tell you that.

Two years ago, I was doing very well at my job, LOVED it, in fact, and was kinda proud of myself for doing well and being finally debt-free. I really liked myself and knew I was in a good space for a lasting relationship with the right person. I didn’t have any baggage, was saving to buy a place and felt I had a lot to offer.

Today, I’m actually financially even better off (thanks to Brian’s life insurance) but other than having a great down payment for a home and paying off the new car I bought (after I accidentally murdered the old one in a bad accident), the money means nothing to me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, that’s not it at all. I really do!

It’s just that money, in general, doesn’t = success/fun, any more. It’s necessary and I need/want it, but it’s just kinda there. Prior to this tragedy, had I come across a large sum of cash, I’d be planning trips and having an awesome time but maybe because I didn’t ‘earn’ this money and because of the circumstances around it, it seems like I shouldn’t spend any of it on anything other than stuff that’s necessary (car/home).

Funny story – when I went to pay off my car loan, the loan clerk looked at me and said (knowing that I’d gotten the cash from an inheritance): Congratulations!!

I just stared at her in disbelief thinking how what I’d do/give/sell (my soul??) to have Brian back. She finally figure out that this wasn’t a ‘happy’ inheritance (what ones ever are?!) and said her condolences for my loss. Idiot.

Today, I appreciate my career but believe it’s not what I’m supposed to do. Today, it’s not about feeding my bank account but feeding my soul and my urgent need to help others.

Two years ago, I ‘may’ have been a tiny bit arrogant. Today ‘humble’ is my middle name. I have a hard time NOT being empathetic to people that, in the past, I would never be. Although, if you say or imply anything bad towards Brian or mental illness (of any sort) the claws come out, quick.

They are quite sharp and lethal, I assure you.

Two years ago, I couldn’t have imagined meeting someone like Pete who is the first man in I-don’t-know-how-many-years…whom I actually BELIEVE is truly in love with me. Seriously, he adores me rotten and I don’t know how I’d be doing, now, without him – me this broken, fragile remanence of a woman.I’m surprised he stuck it out; life with me isn’t always easy.

I needed someone with really BIG LOVE to come into my life…just as Brian needed the same from me. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I helped him, even if he took his life, anyway, I think he stuck around a little while longer because he knew I loved him so VERY much.

Sometimes BIG love is enough, sometimes it isn’t.

I get it now, Spirit, thank you for that lesson.

Two years ago, if you’d told me that I’ve have my own website, little business, and be planning to completely change careers, mid-life, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Two years ago, if you’d told me that I’d come out as a Psychic Medium, I would have burst out laughing. Today, it’s just part of my everyday life.

Two years ago, just before I met Brian, I was really lonely and wondered if I’d EVER find someone to live the rest of my life with. Today, the man I love not only lives with me, but I can’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t wake up next to him. He doesn’t fill the hole that Brian left (it’s a rather large one) but, instead, fills my whole heart with love and joy. I couldn’t be more thankful for him.

Two years ago, I was just going along …living life and not really paying too much attention.

Today, I live in every moment, pay attention to everything and feel blessed for every hurt/tear/sob/scar; because without these, I wouldn’t have grown. I wouldn’t have known the plight of those who are suffering (mostly in silence) with mental illnesses and I wouldn’t have discovered what I really had in me, as a Soul, having a very HUMAN experience.

So yeah, I’m grateful…almost two years later. xosuicide7-copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

When People Judge


We’ve all been judged by others, all of us. We know how it feels, yet we still keep on doing it. I often wonder why it’s ‘okay’ for us to judge others but hate it when it happens to us. I suspect we can add this to another one of life’s little ironies, idiocies and hypocrisies.

The other day, my partner’s best friend’s daughter ran away. It turns out she’s been into various substances and is stealing. She’s all of 13 and this has been an ongoing issue. Thankfully they found her the following day but this isn’t going to be an easy journey for them.

I suspect it’s not one, but many factors at play that contribute to this issue. I don’t think she’s a terrible person. I don’t think her parents are terrible people, either. Life deals us shit sandwiches, now and then, and we have to understand how we’re going to eat them. What I’m getting at is that this isn’t a problem that’s limited to bad parenting, evil children or broken homes.

It could happen to you.

I was sharing a bit of this information with a certain co-worker and his response was the following: You need to get find yourself much better company, Carrie.

In other words, the company you keep is BAD NEWS.

What exactly did he mean by that? He doesn’t know my boyfriend, he doesn’t know these people and I suspect the underlying tone was directed at the fact my late boyfriend took his life.

Did this make him a BAD person? Fuck, no. It made him a person who was in an immeasurable amount of pain, one that fought mental illness and one that lost to it.

Is this little runaway a rotten kid? Again. NO. She’s a CHILD and unlike children of my generation, she has unlimited access to high-end technology that didn’t exist when I was 13. Like, the internet, cell phones, instant video and a plethora of (again instant) communication and easy transportation at her fingertips.

We have made it really simple for kids to access all sorts of stuff. In fact, it’s scary what they can do in the blink of an eye…like text a dealer for drugs and meet them very quickly with cash on hand due the handy-dandy bank card with the TAP feature. I suspect all she had to do was to go a store that had a cash-back option, buy something under $100 and ask for money back. No one would have questioned her.

I’m not sure if this was the situation but it could easily happen.

So how does this relate to why a middle-aged grown woman should chose better people in her life? I suspect this person put on his judge hat and thought that because a confused and easily manipulated little girl made some very bad choices, that the chain link up to her parents and my partner was littered with BAD people.

Because we ALL know that’s the case right?

I’m being facetious.

It has nothing to do with anything and I took a moment to decide NOT to find out if he was implying that Brian was less-than-worthy company because he chose to end his life. Nothing could be further from the truth and even remotely implying that to someone is not only judgmental, but sadly ignorant and plainly mislead by un-empowering beliefs.

So, I say to you, before you cast the first stone, turn around and make sure your support wall isn’t made of glass. Because life can take a turn for the worst in a matter of seconds…and this could be your child, your partner and when that glass breaks…it’s very, very, sharp.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s just that the good people aren’t always being dramatic about it and drawing attention to themselves; we’ve got better things to do, like find our broken, yet much loved, child…and get on the road to recovery.

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Dealing with Grief 101 – Part II


I really should proof-read at least 10 times before hitting the “post” button. It would seem I double copied some of my previous post and well…that’s just never fun to read, is it?

Most sorry about that and all fixed now. 🙂

Aright – onwards and upwards.

I’ll list 5 more little known (or maybe you DO know them) items one may want to think on when going through any type of sorrow.

  1. Create a safe space for yourself to ‘do’ the grieving. Crying is just part of it. You may want to yell, scream, throw things or simply curl up into a little ball and whimper. All of this is OKAY. You’re going through trauma and shoving all that raw emotion down into yourself will make it worse. Let it out.

Think about what happens when you put on a pot of water to boil with a tight lid on it. What happens, eventually, when the water boils? It’s all about the pressure. At some point, we will boil over as there will be a tremendous amount of pressure building inside us and it needs out.

Again, let it all out. If you’re not comfortable doing this in front of anyone, make sure you’re alone. If you have someone who can be there with and for you, tell them exactly what you need to do. It’s less scary that way. If you need to scream while someone is holding you – do it.

It’s okay to be angry and sad. In fact, it’s completely normal. Remember, your life has just been turned upside down and all the contents that were YOU have been dumped out. You’ve now got the task of collecting yourself and reassembling YOU. It’s not an easy job.

  1. Be ready for the waves. I’ve heard the analogy plenty of times and it’s such an accurate one. My counsellor told me that there will be massive tsunamis and small swells. You just don’t know when they’ll be coming because they’re stealthy little shits.

You may be in the middle of a meeting and suddenly “WHAM!” you remind yourself that you should call someone about something funny that just happened in said meeting and then the very next thought is: “Oh yeah, so-and-so is DEAD.”

And just like that it’s game over. You’re reliving everything and preventing tears is extremely difficult. I believe this is a good example of why just getting on with your life and keeping yourself busy may not work so well.

So how do you deal with that? I would say any way you can. I’ve feigned having to use the ladies and excused myself. I’ve sucked it back, finished the meeting and then allowed myself to have a complete breakdown in my car, afterwards. There is just no easy answer as that elephant in the room that you’re trying to ignore comes over and steps on you, every once in a while.

It’s not like you can say: “Sorry, my wife just asked me for a divorce out of the blue so I need to take a moment and cry; is that alright with you?”

But hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where that WAS okay to do? Where people were so compassionate that they’d understand completely?

  1. People will avoid you. Well, most people will when they find out. That’s because, as humans, we’re not good with seeing others grieve. We’re uncomfortable and we really don’t know what’s expected of us. Some, will reach out briefly to offer condolences but then disappear back into the abyss. Your true friends, however, will be there and they will check in on you regularly.

Typically these are the people who have been through some sort of traumatic grief, themselves. My best friend battled (and won!) against breast cancer but it took its toll on her and she went through hell.

SHE, got it. We were there for each other and it didn’t matter how often I needed to talk about it, she listened, and listened and listened some more. I can still talk to her any time. And she knows she can talk to me, anytime, about everything she is still going through. She lives on the other side of the planet but we’re thick as thieves.

  1. It’s okay to let those people who ARE there for you, know when you need some space. Sometimes you need to be by yourself to process everything. It’s understandable, as you desperately try and make sense of what happened. In the case of suicide bereavement, you may never make sense of it because, to the ones left living, we can’t ever comprehend what was going on in their minds and hearts.

Know that you’ll learn to live with this. If you need some solitude, take it. Always be kind to yourself.

  1. For a long time, it will be like you’re walking in a fog. You will go through a torrent of emotions and no, they won’t be in a nice little package labeled: The Five (and I’ve seen seven) Stages of Grief. Yes, those emotions will be knocking at your door, but there are no neat little ‘stages’ where you can tick off each one as they come and go. NOPE, it doesn’t work that way. In fact there are a ton of emotions to get to know.

I’d  like to point out that I never went through denial. I also didn’t go through bargaining. I am, though, quite good friends with depression and anger. Each visit me, frequently, and we get on quite well. Sometimes they show up for tea at the same time and we have a big ‘ole party.

Now, guilt. Guilt and I are practically best buds. This is such a fun emotion (not) and even though I know full well I could not have saved Brian, some part of me still likes to think I could have and that if I’d only done this or that (like not forget my damn phone) he’d still be alive. The fact is: he made a choice then and there and it’s already happened. I cannot change the outcome.

And just like that it was all over and my whole world changed. Yours will change, too. It’s maneuvering those changes that I can help you with.

I think this is a better representation but we’re all unique and going through grief is different for every person.

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World Suicide Prevention Day


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I think it no coincidence that today is the day I end up taking Brian’s ashes to scatter them on a beach he played on, as a child. I was supposed to go, last week, but seeing as it was the Saturday before the last long weekend before School is back in, my sister and I thought better of it. Long and busy ferry lineups are not our thing.

I didn’t even clue in that we’d re-worked our plans for THIS day. There are no coincidences…this was meant to be.

I miss him. Every day, I miss him.

For new readers, my late boyfriend, Brian, took his life on May 11th, 2015. It is a day that I’ll never forget and one that changed me for the remainder of this life.

Every blog post I read about those who have lost someone that they love, to suicide, tells a similar story. Gut wrenching pain and all too stupid and insensitive comments; platitudes that are tossed out there to us like left over scraps thrown towards a starving street dog.

I’ve heard it all and if you’ve gone through it, so have you.

Mental illness is not treated like other diseases and can you imagine if someone came up to you and said: “Well that was very selfish of him to die of cancer that way!”

That’s the trash we get from friends, family, people who should know better as well as strangers.

One of my all time favourites: “Why aren’t you over it, yet?”

They don’t know any better. We’ve been taught to be uncomfortable around the word: SUICIDE. Why? Because, in our culture, it’s an unacceptable way to die. We’re not supposed to choose to leave on our own. If we spoke about this out in the open, discussed it with our children and loved ones, early on, so it wasn’t a taboo and unholy subject, I believe less people would die.

For those who are battling depression, anxiety and have ever thought of taking their life or who have attempted it, ignorance and societal judgments, as well as, misunderstandings are just the norm. It’s sad and it makes everything SO much worse and I dare say contributes to the rising rate of suicide and suicide attempts.

Those that are so desperate to end their emotional pain that they are willing to end their lives are treated like criminals and outcasts, and that is the worst crime of all.

Let me share this: what suicide attempt survivors wish you to know.

I’ve met others who’ve had a brush with suicidal thoughts; it’s far more common than you think. I know a suicide attempt survivor who is a good friend of mine. One thing that was said was: “thoughts of ending your life never leave you, they are always at the back of your mind. I’d decided that if I ever needed to attempt it, again, that this time I was going to get it right.”

Brian’s story isn’t new. His isn’t unique although his reasons and pain are unique to HIM. How many other people out there are suffering in silence, afraid to ask for help because we criminalize their pain, lock them up like a common killer, and take away every shred of their dignity and all of the things that make them feel human and provide a sense of belonging?

We can do a better job and we have to. In a future blog post I’ll describe the initial PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) that Brian was put into. I will say, now, that it was frightening and he was very scared. I would be too. I’m sure there is a way to fund some sort of community temporary home that allows safe personal items as well as protects people from themselves in a more loving environment. I strongly suspect that family would be willing to help. I would have been.

One issue that is brought to our attention is that our youth are greatly at risk. One in 5 teens have considered suicide, last year according to this article.

One.

In, Five, teenagers…children, for God’s sake.

What is it going to take for us to be comfortable to talk about this in the open? When are we going to let suicide out of it’s closet, because it’s bloody well banging on the door.

Take your religion out of the picture. Take your presumptuous thoughts and set them aside. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. It could be your best friend, your spouse, your daughter or your dad. It could be your uncle, your cousin, someone you work with, someone you go to school or the gym with. You could save a life. We could all saves lives if we brought this out into the open and just talked about it.

It could be you. You need to know that it’s safe to talk about.

So, let’s do it. Right here. Open up the door and let it out because if you don’t, it could destroy you.

My goal is to help, to council and to coach. My path is to assist in your healing and guide you to your next steps on your journey. Remember, your soul wants to be here. You chose to be here and everyone has everything to live for.

; None of our life stories are over, yet.