Lori Krause

MIB News
Lori Krause

                          Meet Lori Krause
                MIB Healing Hearts Grief Coach

Lori Krause is a life coach with a focus on grief as well as end of life.  A hospice-trained grief facilitator for both adults and children, Lori is an INELDA-trained End of Life Doula and has her professional coaching credential (PCC) with the ICF as an End of Life and Grief Coach. Lori’s approach is to “hold hands'' and walk alongside her clients as they process life's deep emotions, loss, and challenges. She creates a compassionate and supportive space by providing education on what is to be expected in grief and mourning, helping clients discover coping tools and new perspectives, and creating hope for the future. MIB Agents is honored to have Lori leading our Healing Hearts group sessions and workshops.

How did you come into this space of grief coaching?

My personal losses and journey with grief led me to this profession. I experienced the death of my first husband, my father, and several close friends in the span of five years. As a result, I lived with tremendous sadness, pain, confusion, numbness, and a fear of who was going to die next. I had a lot of questions and fear about death and loss, so I started looking for answers, wisdom, guidance, and healing.

I wanted to have a different relationship with death. I took end-of-life doula training and volunteered with Hospice to interact with death and learn to be comfortable with it. I also wanted to support others facing end of life, the death of someone close and grief.  What really changed my life and ultimately led me to do grief work was volunteering for a bereavement support program for families. I trained to be a facilitator working with children ages 6-17 in a group setting. I learned how to create a safe, supportive, consistent space for children to learn about their grief, share it, and learn coping tools. As a result, I learned about my own grief and finally acknowledged the overwhelming feelings that I had pushed away. I gained new language to talk about it and incorporated new coping tools. I continued with training in grief education and support and became a certified end-of-life and grief coach.

Is there a difference between grief coaching and therapy?

It is important to point out that there is some overlap in coaching and therapy.

A big difference is therapy requires professional licensure and adherence to specific therapeutic models; it is often focused on assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health. Therapists are trained to treat a wide range of mental health issues and do not necessarily have a specialty in grief. The focus is often on past experiences.

Grief coaches are not regulated, although many possess certification and specialized training, as do I. Grief coaching primarily focuses on grief, loss, and providing support and guidance. It is about discovery, finding a path forward, and learning to live with loss and grief.

Grief coaching recognizes that the person who is grieving is the expert of their life. A grief coach is responsible for creating a “safe place” in which the person feels free to share without self-censorship. The grief coach affirms the normalcy of the process. This form of coaching is not treating it, but it offers someone empathetic to walk alongside them without offering advice, a need to “fix”, or the coach assuming that they know what is right for them. The importance of grief coaching lies in its ability to empower individuals to regain control of their lives amidst the overwhelming emotions of grief. It provides a structured and supportive environment that facilitates personal growth and healing. Moreover, grief coaching can benefit those who feel stuck or unable to move forward after a loss.

Grief is a really personal emotion. For someone who might be hesitant or uncomfortable talking to a coach or others about their grief, what would you say the potential benefits are of trying it out?

I would ask the person to imagine what it might feel like to share their experience without censorship; to imagine how it might feel to be heard, acknowledged, and supported without shame, judgment, given advice, or told how to feel. I would ask them if they would like to not feel so alone and if they would like to learn coping practices to help manage the overwhelming feelings of their grief - if they would like to learn more about grief, what they might expect, and to learn to integrate their grief into who they are and not be defined by it. I would share that grief never ends, it shifts and changes. We can learn to live with our grief, carry it, manage it, and find hope and meaning in life after loss. I believe no one should grieve alone and I have witnessed the benefits, growth, hope and thriving that occurs when support is received.

What differences do you see in group versus individual coaching sessions?

A huge advantage for group participants is learning they are not alone. Group provides an opportunity to socialize and get support from peers who are walking through a similar experience. Group members can share their experiences, feelings, and challenges with one another and receive feedback and encouragement in a supportive environment. Sharing in a group session is an opportunity to strengthen one’s relationship skills, reduce isolation, and help find one’s voice. The group environment can be especially valuable for individuals dealing with depression, social anxiety, and life transitions. Group members can learn new perspectives and coping skills from one another, create connections, build new bonds, and share their grief in community rather than alone.

Working with individuals one on one offers more personalized attention; we can dive a little deeper and it is more intimate. Individuals gain support in reconnecting with their strengths, coping strategies, and inner resources. Individual grief coaching is vital in helping individuals process their grief and navigate the complex emotions accompanying loss. It facilitates a transformative journey toward hope and recovery by providing personalized support and fostering resilience. One on one coaching can help the griever find renewed purpose and meaning in life by setting achievable milestones and offering ongoing guidance. Grief coaching also recognizes that each person's grief journey is unique and tailors the support accordingly.

It seems like there might be many differences between grief over the loss of a child versus the loss of a parent, sibling, friend, or patient, but similarities as well. Can you talk about some of those differences and similarities that you see based on your experience?

It is important to note that grief is a deeply personal experience, and individuals may have unique responses to loss regardless of the relationship. The type of relationship lost influences the reactions of the survivor. Because the needs, responsibilities, hopes, and expectations associated with each type of relationship vary, the personal meanings and social implications of each type of death also differ.

Grief is complicated, there are too many similarities and differences for me to dive into depth here. These are some of things I have learned in training and in coaching.

Grief reactions after the death of a child are similar to those after other losses. But they are often more intense and last longer.  Loss of a child is often described as ongoing intense feelings of emptiness. Many parents describe feeling empty, dead inside, almost as if a part of them died, too. A child is a part of you in a way that no other human being can ever be. Parents who have experienced the death of a child speak of carrying an invisible weight; a deep absence and grief in everything they do. The burden of loss is ever-present and never goes away. There is intense loneliness and isolation, feeling like no one can truly understand how they feel. Many grieving parents describe that they feel life has no meaning and nothing really matters anymore. Sometimes there are feelings of intense anger and unfairness at a life left unfulfilled. The loss often leaves parents questioning or losing faith or spiritual beliefs.

Sibling loss is different from other losses because growing up together fosters a unique relationship. They often know each other better than anyone else. Shared histories and hopes for the future are fractured. Siblings often share that they feel their grief is not as important as their parents. Many siblings keep their feelings private to protect parents and other family members; therefore, suffering in silence.  Siblings often feel that they are not valued as much as the sibling who died. Siblings often have feelings of emptiness and abandonment. In some cases, siblings will feel that they are somehow responsible for the death. This can be compounded with feelings of inadequacy and believing that “I will never be enough” to make my parents happy again. Siblings often share feelings of survivor’s guilt; they often question “why them and not me”.  

The death of a spouse or partner has been described as literally everything in their world changes. They have lost companionship, intimacy, and the hopes they had for their future together. Their couple friendships are often lost or forever changed. They are left to make decisions big and small alone. Losing a spouse involves rebuilding a lifestyle as a single person or potentially entering new relationships.The death of a parent may involve navigating life without parental guidance, support, and unconditional love. Children of all ages share their loss of belonging and younger children share that they don’t feel safe. They often lose trust in everything because they trusted that their parents would always be there to take care of and protect them. Losing a parent may involve a shift in roles and responsibilities within the family that can be overwhelming and confusing.

Dealing with grief can be heavy and quite the burden to carry. How do you manage not only your own grief, but helping so many others through their grief?

Yes, grief can be very heavy. I carry my own grief in addition to all the grief I witness and hold space for daily. I have learned that taking care of myself is crucial: allowing myself to cry, sleep, meditate, journal…just be. I practice many of the things I teach others to do to help manage their grief. A few daily rituals that help me acknowledge and honor what I have held space for and absorbed, and then help to wash it away and release what is not mine. I find that combining a visualization and a physical movement together is very powerful and effective. An incredibly helpful practice is standing in the shower and closing my eyes as the water hits my head and then washes over my body. I imagine that the water is literally cleansing the emotions and feelings that are in my head and in my heart out of me and down my body and out the bottom of my feet. Additionally, I also have a grief coach with whom I check in when things become too much.

You have worked with so many in our osteosarcoma patient community.  Are there recurring themes that you see in family members grieving over a loved one who passed from osteosarcoma? 

Guilt is a common theme with both parents and siblings. Guilt that they could not fix or cure their children…survivors’ guilt; they are here, and their child/sibling is not. They do not deserve to live and wish they had died in place of their child or sibling. Guilt over feelings of happiness and joy; guilt of doing things that their child or sibling is not here to do. Guilt that they did not do enough.

Anger is also a common theme. Anger at the outdated treatments; that there are not more trials; at Osteosarcoma; at the medical systems and establishments; at friends and family members who do not get it or do not show up the way they are needed or wanted. Anger that their entire life will forever be changed, ridden with grief and all the complicated ever-changing emotions that come with their loss.

Extreme exhaustion is a common theme from parents; whether their child was sick and in treatment for 3 months or several years they are all exhausted from taking care of their child dealing with sleepless nights, hospital stays, endlessly advocating for their child not having time to think about taking care of themselves, constantly holding their breath waiting for test results and trial approvals. They often share they feel like they have run a never-ending marathon losing everything they were running for in the end.

Gratitude for the MIB bereavement support group, they have all said it is the only place they truly feel seen and heard. The only place they do not have to pretend they are okay. The only place they feel understood and fully supported.

When you need a break from helping others, what activity do you turn to re-energize and fill your cup?

It is interesting because working with others at end-of-life and in grief are things that fill my cup, energize me, and at the same time can be a lot to bear witness, hold, and with which to sit.

I spend time playing, walking, and snuggling with my fur baby, Maizee. The unconditional love, joy, and lightness she brings fills my cup. My husband is my rock; he grounds me and has a calming effect on me. I enjoy baking; it brings a meditative calmness to my mind and allows me to rest my resources. I love Pilates; class time allows for quiet time. I can focus my attention on the movements and my breath; it is also the only time that is about me solely. I love to spend time with my family and friends, my relationships are incredibly important to me. I am a very deep and complicated person, the work I do is very sacred, spiritual and serious…some people are surprised to find that I can actually be quite funny!!

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