With more than 744,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the nation in less than two years, it is difficult for most of us to grapple with the aftermath that occurs when so many families have been shattered.
As we watch these heartbreaking stories on the evening news, along with other recent traumatic events, it can be helpful to have experts guide us as we begin to heal.
Among those experts who can help us heal as individuals, families, and a nation, is Cathleen Elle, a three-time #1 best-selling author of Shattered Together: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Belief. She is also a speaker, certified success coach, and master healer.
Elle, who resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, shares powerful healing techniques for those who have experienced an unexpected loss or hidden trauma to reconnect with their joy and freedom by transforming limiting beliefs.
She has coped with multiple traumas, but the death of her 19-year-old son from suicide was the catalyst that changed her life forever. Today, she assists in changing the trajectory of others’ lives by providing the tools that aid them in moving through the emotions accompanied by these challenging experiences.
Whether it’s a divorce, a job, substance abuse, emotional or physical abuse, illness, or the sudden death of a loved one, she now serves those in the midst of their own healing journey to take the next step of redesigning their lives.
“Cathleen’s story is about resiliency and perseverance, inspiration and empowerment, courage and vulnerability. It’s about how we keep moving forward through our heartache and pain, and how we learn to love ourselves in the darkness,” says best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series co-author Jack Canfield.
“In Shattered Together, Cathleen shows us that not only do we have the power to endure any and all losses,’ Canfield continues, “but we have the ability to come out on the other side of them stronger, more loving, more compassionate, and more forgiving.”
Here are some shattering statistics to consider. In 2019 alone, 51.5 million U.S. adults struggled with mental health issues and because one in five people will experience some form of mental illness throughout their lifetime, chances are we all know someone who is affected.
According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation in the Spring of 2020, 45% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health was negatively impacted due to stress about the Coronavirus epidemic.
Whether it’s a divorce, a job, substance abuse, emotional or physical abuse, illness, or the sudden death of a loved one, those in the midst of their own healing journey can take the next step of redesigning their lives often need help.
After 25 years of political service and extensive experience as a suicide awareness advocate, today, Elle is a global speaker and healer who has been featured on top podcasts and radio shows within the emotional wellness space. She’s also been featured on Facebook and Instagram live interviews offering her expertise as a resource to those moving through their personal healing journeys.
Her strongest attributes that hold her in good stead are these: “drive and an unwillingness to succumb to fear; passion; intuition and spiritual connection. Today, Elle eagerly helps to change the trajectory of others’ lives by providing the tools that aid them in moving through the emotions accompanied by these challenging experiences.
Why did you write this book? Why is it important to you?
Cathleen Elle: I have hope that I can be an inspiration. I want people to know the unbearable truth of grief and that you can get through it by giving them some of the tools and techniques to experience loss in a different way
Tell me how you deal with very difficult subjects in your book and your coaching?
Cathleen Elle: Yes, and when it comes to suicide, death by overdose, rape, or murder there is shame and blame connected to it and societal expectations. I want people to feel safe. All of these losses can be tough on every one of us but being vulnerable and authentic allows people to speak their truth without shame or blame.
Why is this so relevant to us now?
Cathleen Elle: With all the changes and fear in the world right now., it is about every single loss we go through — job loss, eviction, divorce, and others, all of those experiences have the same reactions in our bodies. We are in the middle of a major health pandemic and sudden and unexpected shifts in our lives. By providing the tools, I believe that you can use these tools for any experience. We can choose to live our lives in fear, or we can move through the emotions.
What does it mean to you to “release the hold of trauma, reconnect to the light within, and recreate a life of purpose?”
Cathleen Elle: In essence, this is what it means to move through grief, and the experience is different for everyone. I tailor the process to the specific needs of each of my clients, delving deep into their traumas through a variety of modalities and helping them to alchemize their pain into powerful new stories. It’s an amazing transformation to witness.
When you are overcome with grief or are feeling overwhelmed, what helps you ease your pain?
Cathleen Elle: My go-to (drug-free) pain relievers are journaling and walking in nature — sometimes in combination. Both of these activities engage my mind and body in a way that releases pain, fear, and sadness while allowing hope, peace, and joy to bloom.
What are some of the “tools” for healing you refer to in your book?
Cathleen Elle: My tools are embedded throughout the book, in the “daily practices” found at the end of each chapter. Examples include journaling, writing daily gratitude lists, focused breathing, meditating, connecting with nature… Our options for self-care are nearly endless.
How did you get through your son’s death?
Cathleen Elle: This is the story that I tell in Shattered Together — and it is one that I continue to write each day, through my healing work with individuals, groups, and the public. We never “get over” our losses. But with the help of spiritual coaches and mediums, healing modalities and personal development, therapists and support groups, and through the development of solid self-care practices, we can learn to move through those losses — and to create meaningful, purposeful, beautiful lives in honor of them.
What messages do you want to share when you are doing your motivational speeches?
Cathleen Elle: The primary message I choose to convey is that there is pain in all of our lives and it is up to each of us to choose if we want to suffer or live a life of joy. I know that there are solutions and daily practices that we can utilize. It’s about becoming aware of new ways of thinking and being in life. I also give others hope by sharing my story.
Providing A Grief Presciption to Help Others Heal
What is the ‘grief prescription?’
- Be in the moment. Forget about what you have to do, or what life will look like in a week, month, or year. Looking too far out into the future will only create more anxiety, depression, sadness, and anything else you can think of.
- Breathe. Just focus on your breath coming in and going out of your body. The process of deep, active breathing will clear your mind and assist you in staying physically healthy.
- Believe that you are not alone. At any given moment, many other people are experiencing something similar to what you are — and many of them have found their way through. You will find your way through, as well.
How do we feel positive when so much loss and grief surrounds us — when the nightly news is full of fires, hurricanes, floods, shootings, and other tragedies?
Cathleen Elle: The real action begins on the inside, with the basic practice of mindfulness. It’s a matter of focusing on and nurturing your most positive feelings and beliefs in such a way that they form a sort of protective shell around you — not so that you can block out reality, but so that you can view the negative parts of it from a safe perspective. Negativity will always exist. Our perpetual task is to ensure that we cultivate more than enough positivity to outweigh it. Turn the TV and social media off and refocus your energy on what really matters; what we can be grateful for.
How do you feel you can best inspire others?
Cathleen Elle: Simply by listening to and following my heart’s calling, which is to use my own experience and expertise to guide others through their pain toward a life of joy, light, and fulfillment.
As individuals, families, and communities, how can we bring more joy to our lives?
Cathleen Elle: There are many answers to this question, but a good place to start is to be truly present both within ourselves and with our loved ones on a daily basis. The positive energy we generate when we fully connect in this way extends and expands beyond our own minds and bodies, enhancing the collective energy of our communities and the entire world.
More Books and Projects Underway
Are you working on your next book?
Cathleen Elle: So far this year, my writing endeavors have included launching an inspirational newsletter exclusively for my email subscribers, contributing a chapter on spiritual resilience to an anthology exploring different paths to emotional wellness, and becoming a regular author for family-focused lifestyle website ModernMom.com. I wrote a chapter in “101 Unconventional Strategies: The Ageless Recipe of Ordinary People Achieving Extraordinary Results”, and at the end of this year, I have another chapter in “Faces of Mental Illness” highlighting hope and resilience. Ideas for more books are always percolating in my mind, and I look forward to diving into that project when the opportunity arises.
What else are you working on now?
Cathleen Elle: At the beginning of the month, I started a new subscription-based virtual healing group called The Sacred Connection. Every month, members participate in four hour-long interactive live sessions, each one unique and including some combination of channeled messages from lost loved ones, guidance from the Divine, oracle card readings, energy alignment, Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM) therapy, and guest expert visits. It has been a phenomenal experience so far, and I’m already considering the creation of additional groups in order to accommodate more members and their varying needs. Personally, I am preparing for a cross-country relocation to Oregon, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. It is a place that has been calling to me for quite a while now, and the timing is finally right for me to make the move.
Here are the 4 main things we need to heal after a dramatic loss or major life change:
- Community: a reliable network (small or large) of supportive, loving family members, friends, and spiritual guides–seek people who can support you the way you need to be supported.
- Time: indefinite chronological expectations, because grieving is not a linear process and cannot be rushed
- Faith: a belief that though we may not be able to understand our path to peace, it is there for us if we choose to step onto it–your loved ones’ physical presence is no longer here but their energetic presence is always near.
- Openness: a mental and physical willingness to try new (and sometimes scary) things in order to nourish our minds, bodies, and spirits–move through the pain to eliminate the suffering.
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