Working and learning through loss

Author Gaylene Guillemin’s world was shattered in 2014. Her husband, Merv, died after having an illness for four years.

“He was my world.”

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In dealing with her grief and working through the loss of her husband, Guillemin learned many life lessons as she went through her journey. In doing so, she realized that she could help others who are going through a similar loss. The local author’s new book, Beyond Shattered Dreams, is meant to help people by telling them her story.

Relying on her husband for many years, Guillemin had to do things on her own for the first time, tasks that intimidated her like driving in the city on her own. But she worked through them, and in doing so did things she would have never done before, such as going to Colorado on her own to get a Death and Grief Studies certificate, and learning how to do Angel Card readings.

“When I look at those scary steps I’ve taken... I’ve gone so many miles one scary step at a time.”

After Merv died, Guillemin began to get interested in mediums, and she eventually went to one three months after. That person told Guillemin that she would eventually write a book, something Guillemin didn’t believe at the time.

“She said the only one who is going to stop you, is you... Then I realized, I stopped myself all through my life.”

Writing a book was a natural step, because writing a journal was one of the ways that Guillemin worked to deal with her grief.

Guillemin believes people need to talk about grief more, and through public speaking and her book, she hopes she will be able to get people to talk about grief more, especially as it’s inevitable that people will lose someone important to them in their life.

“We as a society don’t handle grief very well. We think people are doing well if they keep it hidden. One thing I’ve learned is to embrace my grief... It’s really important to allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.”

While grief is a common experience, Guillemin emphasizes that everyone deals with it differently and she can’t tell people how they’re supposed to feel in the situation. She believes telling people her experience is valuable, because it can still help.

“It’s not telling people how they feel, but telling them my story, and how it made me feel... It’s really important for people to be able to tell their story without judgement... There’s no right way or wrong way, it’s just surviving.”

People having difficulty dealing with grief not only applies to people going through it, but also friends and family.

“When people came to visit me, they were afraid to mention Merv’s name, while I just craved to hear Merv’s words. In my experience, when I went through my grief, all I wanted to do was talk about my loved one,” said Guillemin.

As she continues on her path, she admits it’s still hard to be on her own, but she’s grateful that she has been able to turn it into an empowering journey.

“Merv gave so much to me, it was hard losing him, but I understand that I had to learn to spread my wings and fly.”

Guillemin will be at Coles in the Parkland Mall on Nov. 16 for a book signing.

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