By Special Guest Blogger Janice Portaro

Note from Andrea:  The following blog post was contributed through the Living The Spirit Today invitation on my site.  I invite readers to submit true life examples of how they are living a Don’t Die Spirit. I have had the privilege of working with Janice since she reluctantly attended a Don’t Die Workshop as a guest of her beloved sister Anne.  I am proud to call her a client.  I am even prouder to call her a friend.


“Embrace the past for what it is, but do not live in it.”  This is the answer that is scrolled across my journal this morning. My question?  “Why am I rewriting a story that occurred twenty years ago?  Why revisit the absolute worst day of my life?”

It was June 11, 1997.  Barney was playing on the television – my children’s favorite dinosaur; my husband, Rob, was relating a dream to me — one that had him standing in front of his tombstone; and our day continued. Rob left for work, I set out with our daughter, Gina, three years old, and our son, Robbie, two. The day began with uncertainty, proceeded with normalcy and ended with grief whirling through me and every person that I loved.

June 11, 1997 was the day that we lost our son Robbie in a drowning accident.    That is my past, at least a part of it.  In my search to find peace, and to find Robbie (if I am to be completely honest), I was given an assignment by a “seer.” “Write, write a book, tell what it’s like to lose, to heal.  It is your “soul contract,” your “agreement with Robbie before you came to this planet.”  And so I set out to write my story –  who was I to ignore a soul contract even if I did not know if I believed in that sort of thing.

Fast forward.  The celebrations of life had filled me — a new daughter (Julia), graduations, laughter, friendships.  And also more loss. Lots of loss.  I unraveled, again. I was tired of what I perceived as the two backward steps to every one step forward.  Grief returned. It was up, down, all around. Grief can knock you down, pull you under, throw you back up and pull you down again.  Sometimes, we can get caught in the undertow of suffering.  I was in the undertow on a day when I met Dr. Andrea Goeglein and a new question begged to be answered: “Can a thought get stuck in a never ending loop of memories, providing a springboard of excuses for not moving forward?” I just felt hopeless.

I started working with Andrea (a great decision) and as I started to excavate and release the guilt and underlying pain that I had been in denial of carrying, I returned to a document that had been sitting in my computer.  “MY BOOK IN CAPS,” it read.  I wanted to complete it. I was curious.  Is there a “Big Bang” theory of healing?  If so, did I find it?  Is that what drove me all those years ago and why had it not sustained me today?  I did not find those answers in rewriting my story, I found something more.

I was given the gift of looking back on a tragic event of my life with current emotions that are a lot healthier than what they were twenty years ago.  I was given the gift of reliving the love and support that surrounded me when the clouds were so dark at the time that I could not see it.  I was given the gift of forgiveness, of letting go, release, clear and cleansing.

Where I once mocked the phrase “All is as it should be” as a cop out for not being able to control what “should be”; I can embrace the phrase, as knowing that there will be comfort among sorrow, no matter the circumstance. That we can not only survive tragedy, we can thrive in our lives after tragedy.

Losing Robbie, experiencing loss, and gliding smoothly through grief is not my story.

Transitioning through pain, being human, feeling emotions, having high points, low points, cleansing, learning, loving, and growing — that is my story.  That is “MY BOOK IN CAPS.”

I am grateful for one synchronistic day that  brought me home from an out of town trip one day early, and for an opening that appeared at a workshop on that day,  because that is the day that I gave myself permission to have fun again – working with Andrea!

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About the author

We all have our own stories, and we are connected in oneness …

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3 Responses
  1. Maria fihn

    You indeed have a God given gift, writing! It’s beautifully written, my friend. Again , I’m so very sorry you had to endure such a tragedy!

    God bless, love and keep all of you,

    Maria Papp-Fihn

  2. Stephanie Stallworth

    Janice – you have blessed so many with your genuine love and many gifts! I am GRATEFUL to share a friendship with you. PROUD of you and your strength……Love You! Steff

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