“Grief is love turned inside out”

By Laura Stovel

Over the past year, Revelstoke has been rocked by the sudden deaths of several young and middle aged men and at least one woman with Revelstoke roots. Local counsellor Tuulikki Tennant, “Revelstoke has had a particularly rough year,” so much so that people have begun to “brace themselves psychologically” for the next loss. Around seven young men have died, ranging in age from nine to 28, including the tragic death of nine-year-old Jake Gericke in a bicycle accident and the murder of the talented young musician, Daniel Levesque.

Responding to the sheer numbers of people needing help in dealing with their grief, Tennant decided to run a four-part series of talks on Healing Grief. “You can always reach more people in a venue like this, she said. The first talk, The Experience of Grief, was held at the Community Centre Thursday evening and was attended by more than 30 people.

“Often how we see life, and what we believe life to be about, affects us in our grief,” Tennant explained. Many people are stuck on the word “fair.” It’s not fair that their loved one, who was a good person, was taken away. Shattering the worldview of life as fair leads some to question other aspects of their life.

According to Tennant, grief is “love turned inside out. The depth that you loved someone is the intensity that you feel grief.” This can be even harder if the death is sudden, if the deceased is a child or if he or she killed herself or was murdered. But even with these terrible tragedies, loved ones can move through their grief, supported by those around them.

“Grief doesn’t need to be the center-point of your life. For me, it’s love that is the center-point,” Tennant said. “You’ll always hold onto the love in your heart.” For Tennant, despite losing several loved ones, “I want to be a little old lady in my rocking chair, saying ‘I loved deeply.’”

Society often places a lot of pressure on people to move quickly through their grief, to “move on” or “at least not talk about it,” Tennant said. While the first year is known to be the toughest, grief can last a very long time and hit people in waves. Just when a bereaved person thinks he or she is fine, a song or a milestone in the deceased’s life can trigger a wave of sadness. This is especially the case with the loss of a child. The date the child would have graduated or the marriage of friends can be painful.

Revelstoke is blessed by being a very close and supportive community, Tennant said. In the 16 years that she has lived and worked in Revelstoke as a counsellor and social worker she has appreciated that support which can be so valuable to people in times of loss. Because of this, Tennant was inspired to organize these events, as a volunteer, as an “act of gratitude” to the community. She particularly encourages young people who have been affected by recent losses to attend.

The next three talks will be held on Thursdays, February 2, 9 and 16 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm in the MacPherson Room at the Community Center. The talks will be:

  • February 2:             Movement and Stillness through Grief
  • February 9:             Caring for Self and Others
  • February 16:           Creation of Connections for Support