A new recovery space to support people in grief and healing has launched in a holistic wellness destination at Cronulla.
In one of the studios at True Woo, is Leah Barthel, whose 2017-launched venture 'Kindred Gift,' entails a unified collective of her passions. From yoga and meditation, to public speaking and organ donation, she is also the author of 'A Gift Before I Go' that assists people during the organ donation process.
One of her latest offerings is the Grief Recovery Method, has three programs, with the main one running for seven weeks. It aims to move people move from discovery to recovery. There are sessions on pet loss, and supporting children in their grieving process, where Ms Barthel works with parents to help them navigate ways to support their families.
Ms Barthel is not a counsellor but she has a vast amount of personal experience that has proven to be valuable in assisting people understand their grief.
"I never truly remember a time where grief wasn't present in my world," she said. "My dad died in a car accident when I was two years old, and this sudden loss thrust my mum into widowhood at the age of 22. As life progressed there were many losses along the way including losing three grandparents to cancer."
Life took another unexpected turn in 2011, when Ms Barthel's mother, Christine, a long-serving Sutherland Shire teacher, 60, collapsed into her arms and died of a brain aneurysm. She was an organ donor, and her selfless act and kind gesture after her passing propelled Ms Barthel to become a strong advocate for organ donation.
After her death, Mrs Barthel's marriage broke down and her last remaining grandparent died.
In 2017, she was made redundant. "I felt like it was all falling apart," she said. "A breast cancer diagnosis in 2019 felt like the straw that broke the camel's back and this was shortly followed by the pandemic."
Ms Barthel said talking to others helped, but that it was a journey to find what worked.
"In our area we are so fortunate to have so many professionals with expertise in mental health, counselling and psychotherapy," she said. "We are not one size fits all and its about finding what is right and what works. When I was grieving I would go and talk to a counsellor and I felt like I lived and relived the nightmare that was the day mum collapsed. The key was action not time, and that resonated with me. The Grief Recovery Program method teaches the griever to take small steps of action.
"Now I know sometimes when things are falling apart they are falling into place. I hope to do some good work for others in the community."
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