I never intended to study grief.
I'm Shelby Forsythia, and I'm an Intuitive Grief Guide who speaks, writes, and teaches powerful truths about grief and loss.
I'm seriously passionate about personal power and I know that the actions we take ultimately determine where we end up in life... and how happy we are a result.
I serve people who are struggling with grief and loss, creating a safe space for them to be heard and seen. Grief is a powerful uniting force, and I believe that voicing our losses, our fears, and our struggles with others helps us feel less alone in this world. It helps us connect to our families. It helps us connect to total strangers. And most powerfully, it helps us connect to ourselves.
I believe in the power of the human spirit. Grief is our soul's way of saying, "You can rise brilliantly, even through this, and be more of yourself than you have ever been before."
That's what my grief journey taught me.
My breaking point was Christmas 2013 when my mom, who I'd seen struggle for a year and a half with breast cancer, suddenly died. Her death was preceded by my dad being in and out of the hospital for two years for major brain surgeries, my body battling my mind as I fought binge eating disorder, and what felt like a total loss of home, security, and stability after I came out as pansexual. I affectionately refer to my college years as "the four years of hell." There were other grief events scattered in there... loss of my first major love, loss of friends and connection, and loss of financial stability, but losing my mom was the tipping point for me.
I fell off the face of the planet.
For at least a year, I wallowed in darkness. I slept heavy, I worked myself to exhaustion, I skipped classes and meals and then binged in the form of all-nighters and fast food runs.
I refused company. I refused communication. I refused connection.
What small interactions I did have with people, I was seeking answers. What should I do? Where do I go? Who should I call? What should I read? The black mass inside of me grew larger and larger and my health declined rapidly. My spirit was sounding the bells of a four-alarm fire and all I could whisper was, "I'm just so tired." Moving first thing in the morning was comparable to wading through mud in iron boots. It was all I could do to just function each day. Forget living. I was just trying to be alive.
My first flickers of hope came in the form of books. It started with When Things Fall Apart, then Many Lives, Many Masters, then 10% Happier. My bookshelf grew. I immersed myself as much as I could in the knowledge that I was at least partly responsible for my life circumstances. I practiced mindfulness daily. I received a massive dose of healing energy from a Reiki practitioner. I attended soul journey evenings. I even had a conversation with God at one point where after I expressed all of my fury, wounds, and heartbreak, I heard back, "I wish you would just let me hold you."
That was the beginning of surrender.
Whatever that voice was, whether it was God or my mom or me or some other greater knowing, I caved.
I said, "If this is going to be my life, help me make the best of it."
And the Universe delivered. The next book I read was The Grief Recovery Handbook®. In it was an action plan—steps I could take to release not just my mom, but all of the patterns and beliefs I held about grief and how I should operate in it. I read the book. I did the exercises.
And for the first time in a long time, I felt better.
Saying all I had to say, getting words down on paper and then hearing them flow and break and curse from my mouth, feeling safe and heard and loved and held in a sacred space with another grieving being... that is what brought me back. It was like I took all the tangled string and grit and debris from inside my head and laid it all out on a table to look at. And I was allowed to leave it there. My mind gave me permission to live my life again. I had given everything a voice. I had said all there was to say. And someone had heard me.
To supplement my recovery, I also became certified in Reiki. I learned to channel the healing energy that had been so lovingly showered on me in my darkest moments. I learned to calm my mind and my spirit in order to receive and surrender.
I was plugged in. Shiny and clean and ringing with clarity, I began studying grief intensely. If one experience in my life could make me feel so trapped and so released in the same year, I knew there had to be more information on it. I contacted experts and started gathering stories. My intention was to write a book.
But riding the train home one day, another grief book in my hands, I heard the voice speak to me again, "This is what you love. Do it." Do it.
So I signed up to become a Grief Recovery Specialist®. I knew that if other people could just know what I knew about grief and release and the power we have to rewrite our stories, I could inspire the world to become more loving. More listening. More light.
My story has asked me to grow over and over again.
If there's one thing I know, it's that I won't ever stop growing. But now I have the tools to tune in when I'm growing, to lean into my darkness and pain and anger and heart. I never intended to study grief, but in studying grief, I see that I'm studying the stuff that makes up all of our stories. To be defined by our losses is a disaster. But to be defined by our response to our losses is our greatest song. Our heart's anthem.
I'd love to connect you with the wisdom I found to rise from my grief. The journey was not easy by any means, but feeling how I feel today and knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Loss has the power to cripple us. But we have the power to rise. My work taught me that I was so much more than where my deepest loss left me. And I know the same is true for you.
I see you. I'm proud of you and the work you're doing in the world. And I love you.
Because even through grief, we are growing.
FACTS & FUN STUFF
I have an adorable cat named Jiji who sleeps on my head at night.
I knew when I was 16 that Chicago would be my city-of-choice post graduation.
When I get takeout, I will always eat it with metal silverware over plastic.
The Golden Girls is my favorite TV show.
I've worked at a flower shop and a garden. Nature grounds me big time!
I'm an early riser, by choice! I've always loved waking up with the sun.
If I had to eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be pineapple.