An inevitable part of life is that we will all experience loss. Whether it’s a job, relationship, close friend or relative, we will lose something we once cherished, left to pick up the pieces of our lives. Cue the pity parties and sad love songs. Wrong. When we experience loss, we often forget that good can come from our pain. There is a new opportunity to identify who we really are, dependent of our jobs, mates, children and affiliations we may have lost. If we’re lucky, we can use loss as a launching pad for something greater that can console us as well as propel us into our destinies.
Below, two women share their stories of loss and restoration and how they found the “good” in goodbye.
“I really defined myself by my job and how much money I made.”
Aprille Franks-Hunt was 31 and a single mother of a 12-year-old daughter working her dream job as a successful property manager in St. Louis when her boss came in unexpectedly and told her she was laid off.
Within a month, Franks-Hunt had packed her car with only belongings that could fit and moved with her daughter to Atlanta. Exhausted from being “Superwoman” for some many years, she worked temp jobs to make ends meet. “I wanted to take a hiatus and not be responsible for anything major. I’d been a teenage mom since I was 18,” she says.
For nearly a year, Franks-Hunt continued to search for jobs, experiencing growing pains through personal finance slip-ups. “It was a difficult time,” she says. “It was a spiritual thing for me and a blow to my ego because I couldn’t find a job in Atlanta in my previous profession.”
Franks-Hunt took a chance and responded to an ad on Craigslist to rent 30 units in a property in Columbus, Mississippi, at $700 each. She relocated and, within 37 days, she’d earned over $17,000 with one contract. From there, she secured more contracts to manage properties in Oklahoma City, where she now resides, including an inquiry to partner from her former employer in St. Louis.
Now 35, Franks is a former real estate business owner, published author of Confessions of an Independent Woman: Truth, Lies & Relationship and a motivational speaker. She says she can’t believe what her life has become.
“I don’t think I lost anything. A different chapter in my life was opened.”
“I used my relationship as a safety blanket.”
In 2010, after being married for 16 years, Dawniel Patterson-Winningham, 41, left her relationship. Now a single mother of three teenagers, she was down to one income and more than enough time to devote to unchartered territory. “Initially, I was very panicked,” she says. “It was a weight lifted, but there was a pressure added also. I was forced to re-evaluate my standard of living.”
The corporate life coach admits her transition from married to single was bumpy, but she reached a turning point when she enrolled in a self-leadership and accountability course. As part of the course, she wrote a congratulatory letter to herself for accomplishing her future goals. When she read it 30 days later, the goals she set were already beginning to materialize.
“I was able to really see what was around the corner. It [the course] really helped me redefine who I am, what was important to me as a single mother of three. I had the time, the willpower and motivation to execute [my ideas].”
Those ideas were publishing a book and becoming a private life coach for women. As a result of her marriage ending, she fulfilled dreams that had been deferred due to little encouragement from her ex-spouse.
“It pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and as a result of that, I was able to go out and build businesses that not only generate revenue, but help people, something I’ve always wanted to do.“
In just 18 months, Patterson-Winningham’s life has changed drastically. She has three published books under her belt as well as over 30 national clients for her coaching business. She recently collected over 100 prom dresses for needy girls in Houston through her organization, Girl! Power.
So how do we begin living after a loss? Franks advises dealing with the loss first. “You should be upset. Come to terms that this [loss] is actually happening, then get back in there.”
Once your grieving period is over, identify your goals for that particular area of your life, strategize and execute. “People lose relationships every day. People lose jobs every day,” says Patterson-Winningham. “Not to be callous or cold, but we do have to go on. When we lose different things, it opens up another door for us.”