Tamara Beachum, www.TamaraBeachum.com

Hi, I’m Tamara

Welcome. If you have dropped in on me here it is likely that you are grieving the loss of someone or something special to you. I’m sorry.

How I got here…

I’m no stranger to grief. In a 36 month period I lost my father to cancer, was laid off from a job I loved and my perfectly robust husband was diagnosed with and died from cancer. I was my husband’s primary caregiver while learning a new full-time job and caring for our two children. No pressure. I weighed less than my 15-year-old. My hair fell out. A simple conversation with my husband involved the external dialog and a running internal scream of “How am I going to live without this man?!” And then came the day that I became a young widow.

Putting the pieces together…

My life is much like the jigsaw puzzles my grandfather and I put together when I was a child. I assembled the perimeter first so I could better see how to fill in the center. The boundaries were important to understanding where the other pieces fit. Most of the time my grandfather would sit back and watch but at times he handed me pieces, “Here, you will need this later.”

My circumstances taught me, some of them seemingly normal and others major by anyone’s standard. Being raised by a single mother gave me insights I thought I would never need. That was not the plan my husband and I had for our lives when we got married. But I became a single mother and only parent. Then there was the decision to remove my grandmother from life support after a major stroke. “Here, you will need this later.” Indeed.

My puzzle is not complete but I’m beginning to see how the pieces fit together.

The grieving processes I went through with each life event were unique. There was some overlap – fear, for instance – but each experience was not the same. Surprise! I also figured out that the theory of the five stages of grief did not fit what I was living. I felt that I must be “doing it wrong” and was therefore never going to recover any sense of normalcy. In fact, some of the feelings I had caused me to feel guilt because I didn’t have any information to tell me that they were perfectly normal.

Why I do this…

My call is to support people to be with their grief without judging it. You are not sick, you are human. I am not your “grief expert;” you are the authority on your own grief and you have the resourcefulness to move with it. My goal is to be your companion in this journey and to offer you alternative perspectives and tools to help you tap into your own resilience. It is there. This is not the life you had planned. I get that. No, you can’t have that life back but you can have a satisfying life that is full of possibilities. You can still have a life you love. Let’s find it.

The resume stuff…

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Psychology and have had a twenty-plus year career in Human Resources. I worked for a prominent Fortune 100 company for the majority of my career. Part of that time was spent coaching employees on everything from career goals and job loss to more personal issues such as the death of a loved one. I also did a good bit of very left-brained work and added a Six Sigma Black Belt certification to my Professional of Human Resources certification. If you would like more details you can see my online resume by going to LinkedIn.

In 2011, I took a leap of faith and left my job to be a stay-at-home mom for the last year of my oldest child’s high school career. After some soul searching I became a Certified Creative Grief Support Practitioner. (Yep, I’m a fan of certification!) In addition to managing my own practice, I teach hospice workers, pastors, grief coaches and others through the Creative Grief Studio. I also volunteer with Soaring Spirits International to create a safe space for widowed people in Atlanta, GA to meet and talk with others who “get it.”

The artist in me…

I am a potter, photographer and writer. My camera and my journal have helped me in my attempt to make sense of the world after loss. Pounding mud into functional shapes gets me out of my head and back into my body. I can’t draw worth a hoot but I like playing with other mediums and in collage and paint from time to time. I have found that I need creative pursuits to keep my balance and turn off my analytical mind that wants to “figure out” grief. It can’t.

And if you can’t draw worth a hoot either…

No worries. Creativity is not all about being able to draw. I will share with you creative tools that can be done in a number of ways: collage, mixed media, photography, using traditional art making materials – even crayons! And did you know you can paint with music? How cool is that?! Whatever appeals to you is the medium you should use. As with grieving, there is not one “right” way. Ready?

Grief has been the teacher I never wanted. The waves have pulled me under at times but I have also learned to surf. I am resilient. And so are you. I can’t guarantee that the waves of grief won’t come but you can learn to handle them when they do. Grief  might even teach you something new about yourself.

~ Tamara Beachum