This Woman Lost Her Son. Here's How She Copes with Grief.
Everyone experiences loss in their own way, but it’s never easy. It takes time to recover, and sometimes the pain can linger forever. Learning to cope with grief, however, can be a good first step toward clarity and healing — even if it's on a small scale.
Journalist, best-selling author, and film and television producer Kathy Eldon is a woman who knows about the weight of loss and the path to recovery. In 1993, Eldon’s 22-year old son, Dan, was killed while working as a Reuters photojournalist in Somalia. It happened after a United Nations raid to arrest rebel leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The loss rocked Eldon to the core. Eventually, she was able to work through her grief, share her talents, Dan’s story, and more.
“In one moment, my life trajectory changed,” she tells CircleAround. "I always say that we all experience great loss in our lives, but what are we going to do when something really bad happens? We cannot stop the really bad thing from happening, but we can choose how we are going to respond to it.”
"Out of the deep grief that I felt, my daughter Amy and I focused heavily on journalists at risk,” she continues. “Exploring why journalists do what they do and what it does to them. Amy ended up doing a beautiful documentary called Dying to Tell the Story, which explores the motivation of journalists to do what they do. It led to a career in documentaries that otherwise would not have happened. So out of something really bad, came a positive new trajectory for Amy, and for me.”
CircleAround spoke with Eldon to learn more about how she processes grief, and what advice she can provide to others going through tough moments.
“I would urge people to journal however that looks for you,” Eldon suggests. “Let yourself know how you feel. So getting it out of the inside of you is a good thing to do. This too shall pass; we will get through this; we are going to get out to the other end sometime.”
Eldon has created several guided journals — Angel Catcher, a journal of loss and remembrance; Soul Catcher, about your purpose; and Love Catcher, about how to get more love in your life — and knows firsthand what the power of journaling can have in terms of healing. But it’s also fine to interpret your “journal” the way that feels comfortable for you — be it through art, music, spoken word, or other things beyond just standard writing.
“You are not going to remember the specific feelings that you are having,” she adds. “Go dive in and pull out your feelings, because you just have no idea what you could do with those later.”
2. Reach Out
Dan’s motto was "a connection is a solution." Especially in times of social isolation, it can be easy to keep people at a distance, but Eldon ensures that reaching out is one of the best things anyone can do to help a person process grief.
“Can you call somebody whom you have forgotten about?” she adds. “We are all so troubled, and I think we can lose track of how badly others, but also ourselves, need care.”
Eldon explains that having a rapport with someone close to you can be both beneficial to yourself in these times, as well as the other person. Opening your communication channels will allow you to process hard times in a way that feels more connected.
3. Tap Into Your Spiritual Reserve
Eldon doesn’t necessarily think spirituality has to be tied to a certain religion, but she does suggest that there is a comfort in believing in a connection “that is greater than ourselves."
“Allow yourself to believe that there is a sort of funnel going into you,” she suggests. “Sometimes, something that happened is great and sometimes it is not so great. But, it is how you take something and then turn it into a positive.”
Seek out comfort from your communities on a higher level that enables you to feel good, even if it’s just for a short while. This, Eldon suggests, is the key to overcoming trying times, and moving on with your new life in a new way.
Today, Eldon helps run the Creative Visions Foundation, an organization she founded that aims to “spark awareness of critical issues and ignite change through impact media, art, and technology.” The foundation focuses on creative activism and has developed a number of programs where artists and youth can collaborate and combine their skills to make change for good. In particular, Eldon highlights the Rock Your World and Rock Your Vote campaigns, igniting Gen Z and the educators in their lives to promote voter registration through creative means like video, music, and art.
It was Eldon’s passions that helped create Creative Visions. Today, she is still heavily involved in the journalism world. She hopes that others can find solace in her life and experiences, and are able to work together toward a more creative, peaceful world as a result.
Beyond following Eldon's tips, if you are experiencing loss or grief, there are many resources that can help.