By Dr. Ted Wiard
Editors Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of columns by grief specialist Dr. Ted Wiard, dedicated to helping educate the community about emotional healing.
Mental health is a conscious process and tends to be low on a person’s priority list.
This has led to more and more negative behaviors, disconnections, fear and an increase in isolation, suicide, addiction and other self-destructive actions.
My hope is that this article can help your readers know that they are not alone, emotional healing is possible, and there is help.
A large part of emotional healing is to understand the natural and normal healing process from loss called grief. I’m excited that the Los Alamos area is increasing supports such as grief groups, counseling and this article!
I spent my younger years in Los Alamos and then moved to Taos during junior high and hold all Northern New Mexico deep in my heart. I am the founder and director of Golden Willow Retreat, a non-profit, emotional healing center, north of Taos in Arroyo Hondo. I also am the founder and director of Golden Willow Counseling, a behavioral health center with three offices in Taos.
With the support of Rivera Family Funeral Services, Golden Willow Retreat is helping support grief groups in Los Alamos, Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
My passion to create and build organizations and programs that support emotional healing from loss, derived from my own experiences where I found it difficult to find services as well as having resistance due to a certain level of feeling there was a stigma to reach out for help in time of emotional turmoil.
In a very short time period, I experienced many losses that totally changed my life’s direction, passion and view of my life as well as my world view. These losses included an illness that almost killed me, miscarriage, the death of my brother in Alaska, followed by my wife’s diagnosis with cancer (where she died two years later), to be viciously compounded with the death of my two daughters and mother-in-law three years later. I found myself shattered, hopeless and helpless.
Over time, I slowly rebuilt my life emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally/intellectually. I would not have thought this possible, but slowly and surely I found myself not confined and defined by my past losses through many different supports, and with a new knowledge of the grief process, I was able to scaffold back into this world and find meaning to move forward with a fulfilling and meaningful life.
In my healing process, I became an ordained minister, received my Master’s in Counseling with an emphasis in grief and loss as well as earned my Doctorate in Organizational Leadership focused on leadership behaviors in the midst of change.
My passion is to continue to help support individuals, families, organizations and communities in their time of need through the promotion of emotional healing. Golden Willow has become the vehicle to provide services to anyone having the bravery to reach out and begin the process of healing from loss.
My hope is that this column will give people a bit of oxygen, hope and motivation to grow, heal and find happiness and purpose in their lives.
I wish you well. Until next time, take care.
Grief Support Group is available 5:30-7 p.m. Thursdays in Los Alamos/White Rock. For information contact Lori Padilla, LMHC at 505.795.5723.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Readers may direct questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat at GWR@newmex.com or call 575.776.2024. Questions will be answered privately and possibly used in a future column to help others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.