Past President Tim McKinney introduced today's speaker at the Rotary Club of Belleville -- Allyson Tufts, a long time resident of Belleville and facilitator, counsellor and author who is unyielding in her support of individuals and families dealing with grief and loss.  Allyson announced the start-up of her Private Bereavement Counselling Practice, sponsored by Tim McKinney and his team at Remax Quinte.  The official start date is on Wednesday, May 11th at "the Loft" at 35 St. Paul Street in Belleville, Ontario.  Allyson's services will be available one day a week to start.  She shared her personal grief over the loss of her grandfather when she was very young and then more recently, the loss of her father and her difficulty in managing her grief. Bereavement counselling changed her life and perspective on dealing with the unbearable moments when grief envelopes us.  Allyson read an article she wrote, shared here.
 
The love always remains
 
Since Alex’s (niece) passing there have been many moments that we have felt the ache of her absence.  We’ve also had times that we’ve felt joy and I’ve even seen smiles on the faces of those who loved her the most.  Sadly, there are other moments too.
 
Things do change and evolve but there is one thing that doesn’t. As you lead up to the anniversary of the loss of a loved one, you tend to think of the days leading up to the death and the ones immediately after. You think of that blissful moment in your life before you got the horrific news and then the moment after when your life was forever altered.  Unfortunately, the moment of finding out that the person you love is gone is a moment that sits with you physically, mentally and spiritually for a lifetime.  The triggers of that horrific moment are everywhere. It could be the sound of a ringtone – when the phone rang and the person on the line told you the horrific news, the sound of a loved one’s footsteps coming to your door at an ungodly hour, or worse, the police coming to tell you the news or it could be a vision, if you were the one holding your loved one’s hand as they left this world. These are the pieces of grief that are the hardest to explain.  These physical moments that are imprinted in your mind and heart of the unthinkable. 
 
On birthdays, at Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. you naturally wish your loved one was still here but on the anniversary of someone’s death you are reminded of that unbearable moment when you found out they are gone forever. All the joy, all the love, all the wonder of the person you held so dear has now, if only for that moment, turned into an unthinkable horror that you cannot comprehend. It is an ache, a sting, a flutter that takes over your heart, your stomach and your breath making breathing next to impossible. 
 
There have been many around us since Alex’s death that have suffered the unbearable loss of a loved one and there were so many before us and there will be more to come. Because death is part of life, it is one of the few things we can be sure of. For anyone who is loving and supporting those who are grieving, please know that it isn’t a choice to go back to this horrific place or feeling, it isn’t a choice to ache, it’s simply a part of their life that they didn’t ask for.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t healing, it doesn’t mean they aren’t succeeding at relationships or jobs or friendships, it simply means that this unthinkable moment is there somewhere in their heart, body and mind waiting to show its ugly face.  Be patient with those who are grieving and be patient with hearing the story again. Take comfort in knowing that their capacity to love is so strong that they somehow manage to move forward in honour of those they lost knowing the ache still lurks below the surface.
 
There is no time limit on grief but the good news is, and please believe me there is good news…there is no time limit on love either. I believe in my heart that the ache NEVER wins! It may show its ugly face sometimes but the moments of love, giggles and beautiful memories are what sustain us for the rest of our lives.  They are what create the armour to handle the aches.  Stand beside those who are grieving when the ache shows its ugly face so you’ll be there to remind them of all the joy they were gifted with those they loved. The ache, no matter how powerful, is just a small part of the story. The memories you shared with your loved one will always remain and they’ll find a way to show up for you in so many moments as you move through your life.
 
The ache never wins because the love always remains!
 
Allyson is the author of two books including Korah's Butterfly, a children's book that deals with grief, sharing healing messages and providing guidance for children who have experienced a traumatic loss.  The book sends a message of hope and healing for all ages.  Allyson's own journey with grief inspired the book and brought her back to her love of working with families dealing with grief and loss.
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