How a mum learnt to embrace the gift of life after losing her youngest son

gift of life

In our lifetime we can experience a huge variety of significant loss events.

Whether it be the death of a loved one, a relationship breakup, job loss or changes to one’s health or wealth, loss comes in many forms.

In 2011, Karen Chaston experienced the unimaginable, when her youngest child passed away.

Her 27-year-old son Dan Chaston, pictured below, died suddenly after his lungs unexpectedly failed him after a fall.

gift of life

Karen dealt with her loss by avoiding it. She returned to her role as a publicly listed chief financial officer almost immediately and drowned her pain by overworking, overeating and drinking. As a result of her lack of coping mechanisms, she spiraled out of touch with herself and her life.

Just 15 months after her son’s passing, Karen was faced with her second loss as she was made redundant from her beloved CFO role.

“As it turns out, losing my job turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me and it actually ended up saving me. I was forced to confront the painful loss of my son head on and in doing so I was able to stop, take a breath, grieve and find my purpose for living and my passion for life again,” recalls Karen.

Seven years on, the author, beyond-loss mentor and speaker now uses her experience to help others not only manage the losses in their life but to see the gift of these pivotal events so that people can move forward in a positive way.

gift of life

Karen, pictured above, uses her programs to inspire individuals in designing their ideal life, after experiencing any kind of loss event. She is currently running Beyond Loss retreats and workshops through her organisation Live Love by Design.

Below are Karen’s top five steps to cope with any loss in life:

1. Stop

It is so important to deal with what is happening then and there instead of suppressing it. It is in stillness that you will have insights into what has happened to you and what it means for you, moving forward.

2. Accept

Acceptance is about taking responsibility for what happened, what didn’t happen, what we would have loved to have happened, and to understand the changed circumstances.

3. Identify

We have relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, our job, our health, our wealth and so forth. Identify is all about understanding your hopes, dreams and aspirations within these relationships. The gift of loss helps you to understand that there are multiple ways for these to be fulfilled.

4. Complete

The completion stage is very powerful. It assists you to understand that whilst the physical relationship has ended, the emotional and spiritual relationship continues. It’s the emotional relationship that causes the pain and suffering. This is alleviated through the completion process as we apologise, forgive and acknowledge.

5. Pivot

After completing the first four steps, you will have a clearer understanding of where you are at present and where you want to be. This will provide the clarity to put an action plan together to move you forward from here to there, in a positive way.

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