Grief can do funny things to person – some people get lost in it and other are motivated to make incredible changes in the life. Like Brisbane’s Michelle Heynen, whose mother’s death opened her eyes to her life purpose.

“Life is short, and we have to stand up, take courage and do what we need to in life to be happy and live our purpose,” Michelle said. “We often look at the bad things that happen in our life as changing our lives for the worst, when it can actually change our life for the better.”

That’s what happened to Michelle.

An author and writer specialising in grief, she knows when someone loses a loved one the pain is raw. “It is hard to see anything positive about losing that person,” Michelle said.

“Yet, despite losing my mother, I found an inner strength that pushed me to write about book about my experiences and how I coped.”

“None of us ever know how we are going to deal with loss and Reflections Of Sandra is all about my journey from losing my mum to hitting rock bottom. Bottoming out gave me a solid foundation to build from.”

Sometimes, life really tests you. Not long after Michelle published her book, she was diagnosed with MS.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system, interfering with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. MS affects over 23,000 in Australia and more than two million diagnosed worldwide. Roughly three times as many women have MS as men.

”Going through the grief process and then most recently the journey of MS, I really have been shocked at how uneducated society is when dealing with grief and people with disabilities.

“I want to empower people to be ok with their grief but also have the courage to dig deep and look for the hidden blessings and learnings because they are there. We have to sometimes fall down to really get back up and live life.”

One year has ticked by since Michelle was diagnosed with MS, and she has learnt lot about how human beings treat people that are going through something they do not understand or see.

“MS is known as the invisible disease and as a result people do not understand – they cannot see the inner pain we go through. I want to stop the judgements – educate to work with people rather than against and in my case break them into waking away. I want to empower people to find their voice – that it is ok to speak up and stand tall for yourself,” Michelle said.

Yet, what could have been crushing news for someone who has already taken a massive emotional hit, spurred Michelle onto achieving more goals. She is in the process of writing her second book, is an advocate for people with chronic diseases, championing fair treatment in workplaces, and travels to the fullest in between hospital visits.

“To ease a grieving heart is the world’s greatest pleasure, more so, when the heart is yours,” she said.

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will create the fact. It is important to be the strength you feel on the inside. Let it radiate from your body and soul.”

Michelle believes that imagination is stronger than knowledge. “That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death,” she said.


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