Grief and loss are universal.
“Everyone grieves, regardless of age, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation or economic situation,” Yvonne Heath, the author of Love Your Life To Death said.
Heath advocates for more conversations around loss, grief and dying and was in the Okanagan speaking at the Huntington Society of Canada national conference. Huntington disease is a hereditary, neurodegenerative illness with physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms.
“People are talking about how we can create a culture of change so we can live well, grieve well and die well,” she said.
Many of us go to great lengths to avoid feeling the depths of our emotions.
“It’s all grief and we just have to instead of avoiding it, like death and dying, avoid avoid avoid, suffer and repeat, just know that it’s a part of this journey and your heart will heal,” said Heath. “That’s the big thing: Your heart will heal. And it will if we learn to take better care of ourselves and each other.”
Heath, a former nurse turned author and public speaker based out of Ontario, believes we can respond better to crisis and suffering.
After being invited to speak about her book, death and grief for several years, Heath has now begun a bracelet awareness movement directed at supporting ourselves and others in grief.
“When you don’t know what to do and you don’t know what to say, it’s awkward and its uncomfortable and you can’t fix it. There is a magic answer. It’s just show up.”
Show up for yourself first, then for others and encourage people to be thankful for those who show up in their lives, she said.
“We do need our professionals, part of the time, but most of the time we need our village,” she said. “We need our neighbours, our coworkers, our friends, our family to be there for us in those journeys that are hard to navigate. We just need people to care and acknowledge and allow our feelings. And we need to allow our own humanness.”