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When my sister died

My only concerns when I was 16 years old were my friends, my boyfriend and what I was going to wear to the next party. During this time in my life, my older sister Tahnee underwent an operation to remove a brain tumour. Due to complications, she was induced into a coma.

Tahnee had her 21st birthday whilst unconscious in hospital and after six months in a coma and devastating our entire family, she suddenly died. My world and my family's world was shattered. I withdrew and in time lost/pushed away everyone closest to me.

Now grief IS a normal part of life, but I had not at that point, developed good coping skills to say the least. The grief I experienced was out of balance and completely all consuming.

At 18, as I left high school, which should have been an exciting time in my life, I was instead crying myself to sleep every night for the next two years. I was enormously withdrawn and disconnected from everyone who meant anything to me.

I knew and those around me knew that I was enormously impacted by my sister’s death but what I didn't fully comprehend was that I was actually traumatised by it all. ICU, saying goodbye as machines were turned off, then the hope and ongoing stress and uncertainty as she remained alive in a coma, the hospital visits and finally her sudden death, followed by the viewing, the funeral and seeing everyone’s grief. Overwhelming, long term stress, combined with the traumatic experiences that I did not have the ability to cope with or process in a healthy way. I was utterly broken. This grief and trauma remained unresolved in my mind and body for many, many years.

Through all of these experiences, came 'learnt helplessness'; not being able to help my sister or my precious family who were suffering the most intense grief and worst kind of loss imaginable; a daughter and a sister.

The beliefs formed in those experiences and the effects of this traumatic time in my life changed the entire trajectory of my life. In the height of my intense grief and deep pain and suffering, I made vows, promises and decisions about myself, other people and about life in general. I formed very disempowering beliefs that put me on a path for a lot of extra pain and suffering for many years to come. These beliefs impacted relationships, hopes and dreams and overall decisions I made in how I lived my life.

I grew up overnight. I no longer fit in with the friends my age but I didn’t fit in with the adults either. I was limbo.

That was over two decades ago now. In that time, I continued to struggle – Not just over Tahnee’s death but over other normal rites of passage in life. Things like breakups totally broke me. What should have been typical ‘growing up’ adversities to overcome were experiences that bought me to my knees.

Instead of being stronger (because nothing could be as bad as losing my sister), somehow, I was so fragile that I simply could not deal with other losses in life. I didn’t have the strength to dust myself off or the ability to bounce back from any adversity that involved the loss of love.

Over many years, I searched....and searched..... for something to relieve the pain inside of me. A house deposit and many numerous modalities later, I found things that did help me moved forward. Since my 20's I've wanted to be a therapist to help other people and I promised myself that I would study and learn the things that helped me.

So now, after my own healing, I can help others with the best of what worked for me in a fraction of the time. That’s the good I try to make out of the death that I wish never happened.


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