Birth of a recovery program
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
On June 27, 1997, during the annual meeting of the Association for Death Education and Counseling in Washington, D.C., Dr. Helen B. Tullis conducted a workshop entitled “How Fragrant the Rose” in which she described an important discovery during her journey through grief following the death of her mother.
While Helen was in the depths of grief she developed pneumonia and experienced depression, restlessness, loss of self-esteem, strong memories of her mother and a deep longing to see her. Due to her mother’s death and also being divorced, Helen felt abandoned and alone. She said, “I kept the door to my mother’s room shut.”
However, in the midst of her grief, Helen made an important discovery that enabled her to “turn a corner” and begin the process of healing. Due to isolating herself, the only visitor she had was a 12-year-old neighbor. Ironically, at her lowest point in grief, the answer came to her through this child who knew that Helen’s mother’s name was Rose, and she brought Helen a rose. This reminds me of one of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s favorite quotes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In Helen’s case, the teacher was this 12-year-old girl.
Helen began recalling things her mother had said that were pertinent to what was happening during this cathartic moment. She sketched a rose and jotted down some thoughts. She entitled all of this “How Fragrant the Rose.” This was the beginning of a plan that would enable her to break out of her prison of bereavement.
At that point Helen began coming out of her isolation and invited several friends to join her and form a group in which they discussed and wrote about things that were important in their recovering from grief. Topics included “Journey to Nowhere,” “Who We Were” and “The Self.” Helen and these friends named their group “The White Light.”
Helen continued to write about her mother: “Soon I began writing pieces about Mother’s life in Poland, her immigration and her marriage to Dad.” She continued to discuss her parents with the group and showed them photographs of her mother and dad.
In time, Helen experienced healing from the pain of grief. She learned how to think about her mother in such a way so that the memories were realistic, warm and pleasant. She rediscovered her self-esteem and was able to reintegrate herself into society from which she had withdrawn.
Helen’s program, “How Fragrant the Rose,” is an example of many positive, effective, therapeutic and powerful instruments of help and healing that have been born during one’s journey through grief. Thus, hope is born in the midst of hopelessness!
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger on 12.13.07