Roblynn Hunnisett, Certified Coach, MBA is a coach at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. Her focus is Life Coaching, Financial Coaching, Business Coaching, Leadership Coaching, and Retirement Coaching. Learn more about Roblynn here.

The Power of Grief

Up until recently, I was always the person who said, “I have no idea what I’m going to be when I grow up.” This was often followed by a little self-deprecation or a mild chuckle to avoid the awkwardness associated with ‘not knowing’ what I was meant to do in my 30s. In many ways, much of our understanding of where career success comes from is derived from longevity, a steadiness associated with being in the same career, or employer, for a long period of time. We associate ‘success’ with ‘knowing’, and for those of us who simply do not ‘know’, we can feel left out. After 10 years of working in the non-profit field, I truly had no idea what I was meant to do. I did know one thing: it was time for a change.

Every job I’ve had has left me feeling bored, underappreciated, or understimulated, and without challenge. I’d spend my lunch hours scouring the Internet looking for ‘better’ jobs, only to end up feeling the same feelings: confused, depressed, and lacking meaning.

This feeling of not knowing dragged on until I was 36 years old and also 30 weeks pregnant with my second child. During this time, I tragically lost my 34-year-old sister. Losing my best friend and sibling made for the impossible reality that life would no longer be what it once was; I was still the same person but I was living in an entirely different reality, one no human being wants to live in. I was forever changed.

After my son was born (thankfully healthy!), I found myself living in a pool of immeasurable grief. In this sitting, this presence, I realized what I’d known all along: life is unpredictable and the world is full of inequality and tragedy. An eternal optimist, I needed to reconcile with what I also believe: the world is also full of beauty. Grief forced me to learn something new: how to hold space for both realities.

What I learned through this process is we cannot move through grief without talking about our loss, our sadness.

It was during this time that I decided to change careers. I set a goal: I’d be something different by the time I was 40 and I’d choose a profession where I could put to use my strong listening skills and empathy. With a full-time job, two young children under the age of five, and a husband, I decided to dip into my line of credit and I returned to school to pursue my second Master’s degree. I would become a psychotherapist. Two years later, at the age of 40, I graduated with distinction and became a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying). During this time, I gained confidence, both in myself and my ability to help others and I went after my dream job at the clinic I’d always imagined myself working (but always kept it in my imaginary world, my ‘dream’ world). I asked for the job and I was hired. My newfound ability to go after exactly what I wanted was a direct result of having lived through my grief, talking it through and trying my best to survive as this new version of myself.

My hard work has paid off. I’ve found myself working with like-minded individuals in a team whose greatest qualities include sensitivity, warmth, empathy, and compassion for others. I knew that my days of working in jobs which left me feeling empty and unsatisfied were over; I could now connect with people for a living.

Throughout my career, I’ve always had ‘difficulty’ focusing on the (often mundane) task at hand. Boredom came easily to me. I often found myself having lengthy conversations with coworkers in the lunchroom or hallway to discuss the inequalities of the world or to listen to their own stories of grief. My passions for social justice and helping others culminated in these places. One of my strengths has always been in finding ‘my people’; what I hadn’t known then (that I know now) is, I could turn this skill into a career.

If you haven’t already read Frankl’s seminal piece of literary brilliance otherwise known as Man’s Search for Meaning, well please do, and let me tell you why. In 1942, shortly after his wedding, Victor Frankl, went to bed one evening a successful psychiatrist and woke up the next day in a concentration camp. Though he wasn’t physically the strongest man in the various camps in the Holocaust, it was his mental fortitude, his strength, courage, and innate ability to stay positive in the midst of the most dire of conditions, which allowed him to survive three years of grueling physical labour. At the age of 92, Frankl passed away with myriad of accomplishments, both academically and personally.

Frankl was able to survive three tortuous years in The Holocaust because he was able to find meaning where it didn’t exist.

Digging deep within his soul, he told himself that when he survives, he will go on to lecture huge international audiences about his experience in hopes of helping others to find their own meaning. Frankl teaches the reader that within unavoidable suffering, anyone can find meaning. Losing my sister forced me to learn this same lesson: that I could use my own lessons in grief to help others.

To Frankl, when we use our lives to help others, there is no greater achievement.

When life throws us off course by stealing from us the people we love most, we must find our meaning. Though my personal meaning comes from the family I’ve created, I desperately wanted a similar feeling in my career and pursued this goal with everything I had. I learned that if we dive into our purpose with our entire being and work hard enough, we may surprise ourselves by discovering how much we are truly capable of achieving.

Roblynn Hunnisett, Certified Coach, MBA is a coach at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. Her focus is Life Coaching, Financial Coaching, Business Coaching, Leadership Coaching, and Retirement Coaching. Learn more about Roblynn here.

Share This Post

About Our Counsellors

Need to Ask Questions First?

Check out our FAQ

Call 1-800-828-9484 or e-mail us today