What can help someone truly cope with immense grief? How can you get past the early death of a parent? What can you do to sustain yourself in healing?
In the fourteenth episode of the How I Got Through It series, Joe Sanok speaks with Ashley Mielke about how she got through her father’s suicide.
In this Podcast:
- In the past
- After her father’s death
- Finding strength in connection
- Helpful habits
- Ashley’s advice to her past self
In the past
Ashley’s father had always struggled with a drugs and alcohol addiction. Her earliest memories of him included the addiction, and it had been painful ever since.
In her adult years, Ashley and her family celebrated her father’s 45th birthday and went to a 12-step meeting afterward, but it felt like a lost cause.
Very quickly I realized that my dad was not present … from my perspective, and [he] could care less to be there. So, I began to cry during this meeting with the sense that I had lost my dad. (Ashley Mielke)
A few weeks after this meeting, Ashley called him to express that she would no longer have him be present in her life because it was too painful to watch him suffer and hurt himself.
Two months later, Ashley received a phone call from her father’s fiancée that he had attempted to end his life.
I remember feeling … tunnel vision, like the walls were closing in around me, and I couldn’t believe at that moment that my worst nightmare had come to pass. (Ashley Mielke)
After her father’s death
After her father had died, Ashley immersed herself in her studies and work. She began to withdraw and isolate herself, and spent a lot of time alone in her grief.
I would be crying myself to sleep at night, crying in the morning when I would wake up, crying in the shower, crying on the drive to work, and then I would put on my happy face and just do what I had to do to get through another day. (Ashley Mielke)
For a long time, Ashley’s father’s death was on top of her mind, and she struggled to figure out how she was supposed to move forward and heal beyond the loss.
Finding strength in connection
Once Ashley began working in private practice, many grieving people were referred to her.
I almost became the “grief person”, and I came alive, sitting with those clients. It felt like I finally was connecting with people who knew the pain that I felt. I could listen to their stories and I felt such tremendous empathy for them, and I wanted to hold space for them and remind them that they were not alone. (Ashley Mielke)
Ashley could hold space for these clients, but she knew that she needed more tools to help both them and herself. She began to research grief programs and certifications that were available.
- Sharing her story without being judged or criticized
- Feeling heard
- Pursuing a course in grief and trauma
- Moving forward with “the sweet stuff”
- Understanding and dismantling the misinformation around grief
Ashley’s advice to her past self
Remember that God is always working for your good. Everything that is going to happen in your life will shape your character and give you the gift of compassion and empathy for others.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Use promo code ‘JOE’ to get three free months to try out TherapyNotes
- Visit The Grief and Trauma Healing Centre and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Connect with Ashley Mielke on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Check out these additional resources:
- How I got through the death of my son with Donna Kennedy | POP 748
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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