Writer. Coach. Death doula. Rachel Ricketts wears many hats, but corporate lawyer definitely isn’t one of them anymore. After intense grief altered the course of her life, she embraced it to find her true purpose – and now she’s helping her community navigate through periods of pain with Loss & Found. While we can’t wait to pick her brain at our upcoming speaker series Game Changers: Women Using Their Careers to Inspire Social Change, read on to learn more about how and why she’s leading these difficult conversations.
The nature of your work with Loss & Found seems incredibly rewarding – and unique. Why do you think grief is such a taboo topic?
I think grief is a taboo topic because it requires us to face our vulnerabilities. It demands that we sit with our darkness and in Western culture – that’s unacceptable. We don’t know how to properly acknowledge, never mind address, loss or sadness and yet all of us have and will continue to face it. Grief isn’t just about death, it’s about life.
We’ve all endured pain from a loss or change of some kind be it death, divorce, becoming a parent or getting married – all of these things can bring about conflicting feels. If we aren’t talking about it and don’t have the tools for moving through it, then we’re at a serious disadvantage with respect to coping with the challenges inherent in our lives in a healthy and sustainable way.
As a writer and a coach, how do you recharge?
Writing energizes and recharges me in a major way. Expressing myself through the written word is my favourite form of meditation. I also rely heavily on solitude and time in nature. I find I need those two things, often in conjunction, more and more as I dive deeper into this work.
Tell us about a book that changed your life.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion was a pivotal book in my life. A dear friend sent it to me when I was in the worst period of my grief and it helped put a voice to what I was feeling and make me feel slightly less insane. The written word is such a powerful medium for helping folks through life’s challenges which is why I love writing so much.
How can we use moments of grief to create social change?
Grief is a sacred experience – it will often bring us to our knees and can be a catalyst for exploring all the maladaptive stuff we need to look at. The toxic people, places and pieces of our personality that are no longer serving us. I also firmly believe that when we experience deep sorrow, our hearts expand tenfold. Our ability to have empathy and compassion for others is heightened and we can use that to tune in and get clear on how to best show up for ourselves, others, and ultimately the world.
Grief will also cut through any crap you’ve been carrying, meaning priorities can get shifted in a positive way. Grief dramatically changed my life – for the better. It led me to find my life’s purpose and get on my grind. Life is short and I want to spend mine doing what I love, with people that I love, on a mission to help heal this world. One broken heart at a time.
What does community mean to you, and how has yours helped you thrive?
Community means a tribe of loving, supportive, reliable, honest, integral, dope, authentic folks with whom you share morals and values and partake in equal exchanges of energy. You get and receive support and it feels damn good to do both. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible love and support of my community and I am grateful for the people I have in my life who love and accept me exactly as I am, and put in the time and effort to make our relationship a priority. These people have literally picked me up off the floor and helped me put myself back together again. Y’all know who you are and I love the heck outta you!
Meet Rachel and four more GAME CHANGERS at our upcoming Signature Speaker Series at Hootsuite on May 1st, 2017! Learn more about the event and get your tickets here.