“HeartSpun Talk from the Crucible of Experience”©

From the life of Ken Matthies - Author, Poet, Real Life Storyteller

I’ll understand if you’re wondering what a grief buddy* could possibly have to do with the tail rotor of a Bell 206 helicopter…or what lesson of healing value could be found in either one of those subjects.

Bear with me here and see for yourself the values of healing from loss, grief and bereavement to be found in both.

Almost five years after the sudden death of my helicopter pilot daughter in a crash I found myself reading another book about grief, this one entitled ‘Understanding Your Grief – Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart’ by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. It’s a really good book for a bereaved parent to be reading no matter how far down the pike you’ve come since your loss happened.

It was in this book that I first came across the term ‘grief buddy’ under the category of Caring for your Social Self. It refers to the fact that although no one else can grieve the death you’ve experienced just like you do, you’re not alone because there are fellow travelers along the road of grief who’ve had similar experiences…someone who is also mourning a death and needs a companion in grief right now.

I immediately thought of Greg, a local area father like me who has also lost a daughter to sudden death and is still hurting and mourning big time, much like I was on my own earlier road of healing. I called immediately and left him a message because my heart connected instantly with not only the concept of a grief buddy, but also with my own still great need for one at the time.

He not only called me back almost immediately but also understood totally my request to become grief buddies who could agree to share our healing journey together. He even drove out to spend the afternoon and early evening with me so we could spend hours talking about our girls, and lean on each others shoulders through the joy and pain of being able to do so.

We’d spoken before on numerous occasions and he knew how my daughter had died. He also knew how intensely proud I still felt about her achievements in becoming a helicopter pilot against all the odds which had faced her. This despite the fact that it became the manner of her death – because I know and believe she died doing what she loved.

Greg used to be a helicopter repair engineer in a previous life so he understood how I felt. He’d also accumulated a few mementos from his time in that trade. In the midst of his own hurt his thoughtfulness and caring about my daughter and I took the form of a gift he brought to help me remember her by.

That’s right – it was the timed out tail rotor of a Bell 206 helicopter – a type of machine I knew my girl had flown from time to time throughout her short career.

It has become a gift of healing to my heart because my ‘grief buddy’ knew and understood the value I would place upon it and the high esteem I would hold it in as a memento of her life and achievements.

It’s now mounted high on the wall of my office above the beautifully framed copy of the poem ‘The Feather’ which I’d written for her funeral. I have every reason in the world to believe that my daughter’s spirit can see it too and that she smiles with joy at the events which placed it there.

So where’s the healing to be found in this short story? You need look no further than the fellow traveler along this road of loss, grief and bereavement whom you can and should connect with to share your journey – a ‘grief buddy’ who knows and understands your pain.

The pain of remembrance in doing so is far outweighed by the gain of the connection – a connection which will not only bond your hearts and grief experiences together in remembrance, but will also begin to lift your broken spirits up to take another major step on your journey of healing from it.

Who knows – you too might find yourselves sharing healing mementos that will bring a smile of joy to the spirit of the loved ones you lost, and to your own.

** ’Grief Buddy’ - A term from the book “Understanding Your Grief” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D

Author's Bio: 

For almost forty years of his life Ken Matthies has been a writer and chronicler of life expressed in poetic form, following the family tradition laid down by his grandfather before him.

Faced with the dramatically life altering experience of his helicopter pilot daughter’s sudden death in 2002 he has grown to also become a literary author of true events based on his own life. Though grief opened his literary doors it is the Light of Love and Memories supplying the fuel of inspiration to write through them.

As a second-chance dad given the opportunity to verbally share his life stories with his newly rediscovered daughter it was she who told him that she believed him to be a ‘worthy man’ after having heard them, and who encouraged him that they should be shared in written form beyond her own life – not yet knowing as she said it that she was soon to leave him behind. As a bereaved father and writer learning how to live life again in the Light of his own Love and Memories of his daughter, he writes those stories now as a testament to her belief and faith in their value.

His full length book entitled "How to Survive the Death of a Child - A Father's Story of Healing Light" was the first of these stories which he wrote in the Light of those Love and Memories.

He lives in the solitude and grandeur of a tiny southern Yukon village with his Tlingit native wife Skoehoeteen and the successor to their venerable old Tahltan bear dog Clancy Underfoot, who now happily awaits them at the Rainbow Bridge in Doggy Heaven. She’s a new female puppy named Hlinukts Seew which means ‘Sweet Rain’ in the Tlingit language, a wonderful phonetic variation in memory of Clancy’s name who was also called C.U. for short. It’s a good place to tell those stories from.

You can read more of Ken's writings and find his Amazon Kindle book at www.kenmatthies.com.