Cathleen Elle Interview
Show Title: From Grief to Belief
Every suicide touches 136 people (study done in Canada)
Vivien: Hello and welcome to The Schapera Show where Viv and Neil explore this big adventure called Life. Our guest today is a Speaker, Healer and Visionary Guide who has traveled an extremely difficult journey and has much to share on the topic. I am glad to introduce you to Cathleen Elle, author of the Amazon International Bestseller Shattered Together: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Belief.
Welcome Cathleen, thank you for joining us here on the show today.
Cathleen: Thank you, Vivien, I’m glad to be here too!
Vivien: Cathleen, I wonder if you’d be willing to tell us, in a nutshell, about your book and your work?
Cathleen: Yes, of course! I am a transformational speaker, certified master coach and healer, visionary guide, and as you said, my book is called Shattered Together: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Belief.
After experiencing the tragic loss of my son to suicide, I uncovered a powerful sense of self and a connection to the divine that motivated me to redesign my life and help others to do the same.
Vivien: So, now you are helping others with this process of sudden loss?
Cathleen: Yes, that’s right, my book is a practical guide for those struggling with loss of any kind and has become a #1 international bestseller on Amazon.
Vivien: Wow! I personally know this journey and how complex it is, but before we discuss that, I want to ask you — these pioneering and leadership capacities don’t come out of nowhere. What were you doing before this path presented itself to you?
Cathleen: Indeed! Not only have I delved deeply into a journey of healing, I’ve also been a leader in politics. I served more than 25 years in government from being a legislator – elected representative for the state of Vermont before age 30.
I sat on Judiciary and Appropriations despite no college qualifications, working for the governor as the Director of Housing, Transportation and Homelessness and Legislative Affairs for the Agency of Human Services.
I was the chair of the Interagency Council of Homelessness, to coordinate all the agencies within the administration that touched the issue.
I became the face of the largest commercial contractors’ association in the state of Vermont. I am the one who channeled the name “Civil Union” when writing the law that changed the world’s perspective on same sex marriages.
When working for the governor, I did go to college to get a BS degree in Political Science, Business and Administration. I was being held back by not having a college degree, and needed the college degree to advance in administration.
Vivien: That sounds as though you were very committed to your career, so obviously something happened to put you on a different path.
Cathleen: Yes, that’s right. I was the executive at the AGC – the commercial contractors association, and I had just started the position when Logan, my son, took his life. That was in 2010.
Vivien: Ooh, what happened?
Cathleen: Logan struggled from the age of 15 with his mental health. He had attempted suicide – there were warning signs. We did everything we could. He was masking his pain with marijuana and it didn’t work for him like alcohol doesn’t work for some people. He saw dark visions. We did struggle, there were ups and downs in the teenage years.
A month before his suicide, he said he had a plan to move to his dad, and we got into a disagreement. I said he needed to find a different place to stay. He went to my parents, and then to his dad and 2 weeks later I got the call – when I was in a board meeting.
That board meeting was absorbing all of my attention. The organization was needing changes. I did have the thought to call Logan but I was too preoccupied with the board meeting. I could see I was getting a lot of calls, yet, because of the meeting, I ignored the calls.
Then, I saw the friend who was calling walking up the sidewalk and an employee opened the door to the meeting room. I thought something was wrong with my dad, at first, but I could tell by the look on my friend’s face that it was Logan. She said: “Logan committed suicide” and when I heard these terrible words, I collapsed and screamed. In that moment, I knew my life would never be the same again. Everything that seemed to matter before ceased to matter.
I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen. All I could feel was numbness and disbelief. A month later I met with a medium, and she said that something was being hidden from me and I needed to get the police report. That gave me hope – perhaps Logan’s death was an accident. The responding officer answered the phone. I asked how they knew it was a suicide – I had to push to get an answer. There was a note that said: “I want my service at a church in Vermont and I don’t want Mom there.” That pushed me even lower. I felt so much shame and guilt: how can I be a voice for others when I can’t even save my son?
About 3 months later I was in a deep depression, and home alone. My daughter was away in college, my partner lived 3 hours away. I didn’t want to live. I found myself at Logan’s gravesite crying and pleading.
Then I got a message: “If this happened to you, then you must do something with it.”
I delved into the world of suicide prevention – I had the media contacts and voice. A study done in Canada showed that every suicide touches 136 people.
I found that I was floundering and I knew life couldn’t continue this way – I was cloaked in sadness, anger, guilt, shame, blame, and weighed down by the loss. I realized that I hadn’t truly stepped into my healing journey yet. I was still masking with “doing.” I made a decision to explore my own preconceived notions and thoughts so I could reignite my life. Once I truly stepped into my journey of healing, I saw how I could also assist others by being the light in any situation, so they too could find their own light from within.
Vivien: What kinds of things did you do, Cathleen? How did you begin?
Cathleen: I did Energy Healing, got a grief specialist, went to mediums. But what I wasn’t doing was looking at myself and my grief. About a year later I went to cognitive thought therapy. This was helpful for the first 4 years. On the fifth anniversary, although I could list that I was doing all the things to be done, I was still having the ups and downs of feeling OK and then not feeling OK. I told my counselor that I’m depressed, just not a happy person.
I took a quiz that revealed I was deep in a PTSD experience. It wasn’t from Logan’s departure – Logan cracked open all my early childhood experiences of sexual, emotional, physical abuse. I enrolled in a PTSD program for 15 – 18 weeks and that showed me that I could create new stories around old experiences. The big insight was that my 18-month old self, my 3-year old self, my 5-year old self, were creating the programs from the limited perspective of childhood. For example, at 18 months I was touched inappropriately by my father’s father, and that was still scripting me.
I also saw that I was habitually seeking outside validation of my worthiness. In my adult life – I’ve belonged to 3 different religions, married 3 different times – nothing was ever enough. I would briefly feel better, trying to prove my worth this way. With my new awareness I realized that I needed to go internally to do my own healing work. And I realized I couldn’t stay in a marriage that wasn’t working, stay in a job that wasn’t serving me – I had created a persona to be in a public position. I had to decide to leave my job, leave my husband, leave the state of Vermont.
I also realized that what was in my heart, now, was to work with people who had similar experience. In 2019 I found a new path for my journey. I entered a yearlong program with Jack Canfield. Now, I specialize in Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM), a multi-sensory technique that facilitates mental, physical, and spiritual transformation.
Vivien: Regenerating Images in Memory – RIM. Can you explain RIM and how it works?
Cathleen: RIM is a modality that uses your body to go into old experiences and create new ones. Go in, find a pain point, get new information, get a higher perspective.
E.g. when I was 3-4, my birth father came home, fighting, got into a space where he was going to “end this,” meaning he got his gun, and was going to kill himself. My mother, sister and I fled to the bathroom. My mother put me between the toilet and the wall, and my mother and sister were in the bathtub. From this, I created the story that I was not worthy of “taking space” in the bathtub.
There were gunshots and bullets. We got out when he was reloading. We got into the car. Up the road, my mother stopped. Then the cops came. My mother took us back down to where the cops are and the cop said: “We’re going to have to take them away.”
I felt “this will be safe,” but my mother said “No, it will be OK” and went into the house. This left me feeling “abandoned,” and “unworthy of protection.” Through RIM I could go back into that event and explore my mother’s perspective and see that my mother did what she did out of love.
Also, around the second part of that – I could see that my mother was scared that her children would be taken away if she left my father, so she was willing to be beaten on a nightly basis so she could stay with her children. This was so different, because I thought she didn’t have the guts to leave. But actually, she had the guts to stay.
Vivien: So, it was RIM that helped you explore your preconceived notions and thoughts?
Cathleen: Yes, RIM prepared me to see everything differently. I didn’t have to be resentful, and all those kinds of negative emotions. I understood from RIM how much more information hides inside these events. This was very freeing. A child’s stories are partial stories. RIM also prepared me for plant medicine.
Vivien: Plant medicine! Please tell us more about that.
Cathleen: In the Canfield program I heard about Ayahuasca. At the end of 2018, I went to Costa Rica to experience Ayahuasca. I was just called. It kept coming up. With plant medicine, that’s how it works, you are called to sit with it. I’ve learned to listen and act on such messages – so I just went. 4 nights in a row.
Then I went twice in 2019 to sit in Ayahuasca again. This was so profound for me. The medicine breaks down barriers generated by your ego and brain that stop you from experiencing truth. It felt like each time, the medicine pulled another protection layer off of my heart.
The medicine gave me awareness of generational pain. Once I went through deep grief in our lineage – 3 generations of losing sons – me to suicide, my mother to SIDS and my grandmother lost her only son to an out of wedlock pregnancy. Someone in the family raised my grandmother’s son, but they didn’t tell her. She lived her life in deep suffering and sorrow.
I wept, the tears streamed. I was able to experience with compassion the generational trauma of losing your only son. The Aya, the music, the shamans – I was able to complete – to end – that program of losing the only son. I was no longer holding that in my body, and therefore, thankfully, my daughter doesn’t have to go through this also. I ended this generational trauma. The power of the medicines is real – and it is freeing.
Vivien: Ending generational trauma and receiving generational healing! Wow! Cathleen, let’s continue after the break, but before we stop, can you give us your contact info and tell us where to get your book?
Cathleen: Yes! My book, Shattered Together: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Belief, is easily available on Amazon, and my name, as author, is Cathleen with a C and then Elle – E-l-l-e. My website is: https://cathleenelle.com
Vivien: Thank you, Cathleen! You are listening to The Schapera Show and our guest Cathleen Elle who is sharing with us how she put herself and her life back together after her son’s suicide. When we come back after the break, Cathleen is going to tell us more about her process and how she now helps others who face this terrible challenge.
Vivien: Hello and welcome back to The Schapera Show. Our guest today is Cathleen Elle, author of Shattered Together: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Belief. Cathleen is telling us how she reintegrated her life after her son’s suicide, and how she now helps others who are traveling this journey.
Cathleen, do you believe that once someone “dies” they are no longer? Is there ever any real hope for such a deep grief of losing a child?
Cathleen: No, energy never dies. Yes, we grieve the loss of the physical presence, and we can learn how to engage instead with the energetic presence. In other words, there is a possibility to heal. The truth is that our loved ones are never really gone, we get to form a new relationship with their energetic presence.
All experience has a pearl within the oyster. Experiences are guiding posts. We get to use them to see from a new perspective and tap into the infinite possibilities of what could come from them. We step into this journey by going inward instead of masking with outward patterns, beliefs, and programs. We have to step into the pain and face the situation, and then recreate new stories with the information we get from stepping into the pain.
Vivien: Do you work one-on-one, or in groups?
Cathleen: Yes, both. I provide personalized one-on-one support, virtual & in-person group sessions, and transformative retreats to parents who have experienced loss. I’m also available as a speaker, inspiring audiences on topics such as suicide prevention, grief, and self-discovery.
Vivien: What do you include in your process?
Cathleen: Because each individual is different, I let myself be guided by the higher powers on how to work with any one individual. Also, it is important to remember that the immediate trauma is seldom the only trauma. Trauma is cumulative and everything we haven’t dealt with comes up. Consequently, we need a combination of techniques and methods to do this emotional excavation: Coaching, energy healing, intuition, Oracle Cards, Akashic records, plus, even in verbal engagement, we also need “body engagement” – I guide clients to check into their bodies to find where they are holding their pain.
Vivien: Cathleen, do you have any special guiding words that you can share with our listeners?
Cathleen: Yes, there’s a quote I would like to share by Jennifer Hough: “The issue is not the issue. It is you that makes the issue an issue.”
What I have experienced with the people I work with is that we create unnecessary suffering by creating untruths in our heads. We’ve created pain and suffering because we believe we deserve to, that we are supposed to, that there’s no other way…. those are all untruths. The more we go within to explore, see, experience our feelings, the more the new information comes through. There are possible recreations of stories around any experience we have had. Remember this: there is more to life than what our minds want us to know.
Explore your feelings, become aware of where you still feel wounded, then allow yourself to feel the infinite other ways you could see (feel/experience) it. Learn to just allow emotions to flow through and guide you along the way.
Vivien: Thank you, Cathleen, these are precious words that apply to everyone facing a challenge. Can you tell us what kinds of differences you can see in people after experiencing your work?
Cathleen: Yes, I held a retreat for leaders who have lost a child and I saw firsthand just how powerful the services were. One of the attendees came in with a deep sadness, weighed down emotionally from the loss of her daughter her to suicide. She physically looked weighed down. Sadness in her face, shoulders hunched forward, negative thoughts constantly, belief that she would never be free of the pain she was sitting in. It was like she was wrapped with a grief-weighted blanket.
Once I worked with them throughout the week of emotional reprogramming, medicines, and other modalities, she came out standing taller, looking brighter, a smile on her face and reshaped her belief that there is a possibility of enjoying life and feeling the sadness. All of them left like new people. The smiles were contagious
Vivien: Do you have a retreat or workshop coming up?
Cathleen: Yes, I’m starting a program in July 2023 – 6 months of meeting in the group virtually and having one on one sessions, and experts sharing information. At the end, there will be a week-long retreat in Ecuador that will include Ayahuasca and soul rediscovery journey.
Vivien: Thank you very much for sharing your wisdom. Please tell us again how people can get in touch with you.
Cathleen: You can get my book on Amazon, and you can contact me via my website https://cathleenelle.com And there you can also find out more about my retreat and programs.
Vivien: You have been listening to Cathleen Elle, author of Shattered Together: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Belief.
After the break, Neil will be giving his report from the spirit realm, please join us.