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Life Beyond Loss

By Karen Chaston

Have you ever noticed that your birth certificate does not have an expiry date?

Imagine if it did.

Would that change the way that you live your life? Would you be more courageous? Would it make you live for today and allow the future to take care of itself?

Would it assist you to realise that you are the only person you’ll spend your entire life with, so you must chase all your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?

I often wonder if Dan, my 27-year-old son, had known what would happen during the early hours of the 10th of July 2011.

Unfortunately, he did not know that the following day when we woke, his dad and I would find him dead at our back door.

Plunging us into a daze that I describe as “Beyond a Mother’s Worst Nightmare.”

At the time, as a publicly listed Chief Financial Officer, I dealt with my loss by avoiding it and returning to work the day after Dan’s funeral and drowning my pain by overworking, overeating, and drinking. Unfortunately, due to my lack of coping mechanisms, I spiralled out of touch with myself and my life.

Then 15 months later, when faced with my redundancy loss, I went looking for a better and healthier way to live after loss comes to visit.

As it turns out, losing my job was the greatest gift that could have happened to me, and it ended up saving me. I was forced to confront the painful loss of my son head-on, and in doing so, I was able to stop, take a breath, grieve, and find my purpose for living and passion for life again.

Nine years on, I now use my experience to help others manage the losses in their lives and see the gift of these pivotal events so they too can move forward positively.

Hence why my programs are called “The Gift of Loss.” The gift does not come from the loss event; it comes when you take the time to follow the five-step process that assists you to move beyond any loss and create your better everyday life.

The five steps are:


  1. Stop

It is so essential to deal with what is happening then and there instead of suppressing it. In the stillness, you will have insights into what has happened to you and what it means for you now and moving forward.

  1. Accept

Acceptance is about taking responsibility for what happened, what didn’t happen, what we would have loved to have happened and understanding the changed circumstances.

  1. Identify

We have relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, our job, our health, our wealth and so forth. Identifying is all about understanding your hopes, dreams and aspirations within these relationships. The gift of loss helps you to realise that there are multiple ways for these to be fulfilled.

  1. Complete

The completion stage is very powerful. It assists you to understand that whilst the physical relationship has ended, the emotional and spiritual relationship continues. It’s the emotional relationship that causes the pain and suffering. This is alleviated through the completion process as you deep dive into all the things that you’d like to apologise, forgive and acknowledge, in regard to the lost relationship.

  1. Pivot

After completing the first four steps, you will have a clearer understanding of where you are at present and where you want to be. This will provide the clarity to put an action plan together to move you forward from here to there in a positive way.

Whilst I would love to have Dan here with me in this realm, I know that as the Co-founder of the Chaston Centre, he is assisting me and everyone we serve to know that life is too short to be spending any time grieving and suffering.

About the Author: Karen Chaston is a beyond loss mentor, international speaker, author and CPA. A former publicly listed company CFO and 25+ year senior manager. Karen’s first-hand experience assisted in co-founding The Chaston Centre and their Gift of Loss programs which demonstrate the correlations between loss and people and profits for both individuals and companies.