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How to HEAL: What a Heartbreaking Year Taught Me About Moving Forward

Nia Rose (Director of Executive Account Management, DCM Services) shares how navigating  a season of grief and uncertainty challenged her to develop new coping skills. 


Nia Rose


I’m no stranger to tough times, but 2022 tried me in ways I’d never imagined.

Throughout most of the year, I’d been on a high. I led a breakout session at WCF 2021, and it lit a fire under me. In the months that followed, I was thriving professionally. I felt more connected to my clients than ever and believed in my own potential in a whole new way. This pushed me to submit a strong proposal for a director level role within my organization. For once, it was easy for me to articulate the value I contributed.


Then, in late November, I got a call from my son's high school saying he’d had a strange episode. 

I picked him up and took him to urgent care, where they ran a series of tests. A week later, it happened again. We rushed to the ER this time, and after another round of tests and evaluations, Jaiden was put on anti-epileptic meds and referred to a neurologist. 


Shortly after, my beloved father-in-law was hospitalized. 

Having lost my own father just after Thanksgiving as a child, this felt especially brutal. Soon, my husband and I got a phone call saying that Dad probably wouldn’t make it through the night. The family gathered and prayed. We told dad how much we loved him, and what he meant to all of us. After prayerful consideration, the next step was to move him into hospice. 


We then witnessed what felt like a miracle. My father-in-law went from totally unresponsive, back to his alert, lively self again within the next week. He made such a recovery that he went home in time for Christmas. 


Despite this miracle, the next few months were rough. Dad struggled with sleeplessness and ongoing pain. Jaiden had been officially diagnosed with epilepsy and his seizures became more frequent and severe. His mental health plummeted. I noticed cuts on his wrists and arms and became scared for his health in a whole new way. 

Then one very cold, sunny day in early March, Dad passed, and the loss of the father I had come to call my own was crushing.


The heartbreaks piled up. I woke up every day to problems I could not fix.

I couldn’t take the pain and uncertainty away from my son, regardless of the resources I read and doctors I called. No matter how supportive I was of my husband during the loss of his father, I couldn’t help him move through his grief. My own early loss was magnified as well. All the compartmentalizing of grief I’d done over the years came undone. I felt that I was failing everyone, that I was useless. 


It was in the depths of those awful months that my boss approached me with good news. 

The proposal I’d submitted for a director role the previous summer had been approved. I was getting the promotion I’d worked so hard for. 


But all I could think was “Find someone else, I’m not good enough” 


That’s when I knew I had to find a way to move forward. These 4 steps helped me do just that.


H. Help yourself FIRST. For me, this means simply to sit with myself. Not problem solve, not bury myself in work or attempt to run away. I had to stop trying to fix, and just feel. It went against every instinct I have, but I found that sometimes, the only way forward is through.

E. Evaluate what’s working. Even amid the worst times, something is working. The tools we use to get through hard times, from our faith to our little mental health walks to a life changing playlist, form a survival kit. Write down all of your tools without judgment, whether it’s an objectively healthy habit or a “guilty pleasure.” There is a time and a place for all of it.


A. Accept what is. I suffered more when I wouldn’t accept what was happening. Specifically in my son’s case. What I know now is how strong he is and how strong we can be for each other when needed. It wasn’t the life lesson I wanted, but we don’t get to choose the experiences that shape us. I found that spending energy wishing for circumstances to be different or denying what was happening only prolonged the suffering. 


Last, L. Listen to the small voice inside. This voice can be your God, your intuition, or yourself.  I learned to trust myself to guide me back to myself. I try to always remember that your past self (who has gotten through every hard thing), your present self (who is doing the work), and your future self, are all equal and all conspiring on your behalf for your greatest good. 


Slowly but surely, my family learned to live with our grief and with my son’s epilepsy. Our lives grew around these new realities as we came to accept them. I took the promotion, even though it seemed an impossible task at the time. After sitting with the wreckage of the previous months, I knew I couldn’t wait until the fictional day when everything would be perfect to move forward. 


I know that difficulties will come again, but when they do, I’ll be ready to help myself heal.


Nia originally shared her story live at WCF 2023. Hear more stories like it when you join us for this year's conference in Fort Worth, Texas from November 11 to 13.