We had the good fortune of connecting with Beth Erlander and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Beth, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
I’d love my legacy in the world to be about helping to normalize grief. I strive to live in a world where when we see complete strangers breaking down and crying or being really upset, that we simply come closer and ask if they need anything, or just give them a tissue and glass of water and give them permission to let that grief burst or emotional outburst to be fully expressed. If I could be remembered for that, I would feel so proud of my life.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
So I’m a psychotherapist and a creative grief support practitioner. I do grief coaching with a solid foundation from Art Therapy through a body-centered approach. I’m also a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Colorado and I’m a certified EMDR practitioner as well. I strive to help those dealing with grief, loss and trauma reconcilation.
I recently changed the name of my business from Grief Freak to my name-Beth Erlander with the tag line as Grief Friend. I am passionate about helping others befriend grief and strive to normalize it. I became the “Grief Freak” after my life partner crashed his mountain bike in 2012 and the result was a broken neck and living with quadriplegia. This turned my entire life upside down as I was navigating this kind of grief while also trying to run my private practice at the time. It was a lot! Grief Freak was inspired by one of my favorite singers-Michael Franti who has a song about all the freaky people making the beauty of the world. I also felt like a freak (in the negative meaning) because my grief wasn’t a death loss. It was confusing as so much had died to quadriplegia. I learned from this experience that there is so much more to grief and loss than death loss. I then changed the focus of my practice to learning everything I could about navigating and reconciling all kinds of grief. I changed my tagline to Grief Friend to soften my brand and not scare some people away. Grief is scary enough. I loved being the Grief Freak and will forever be that, but I’ve learned that not everyone gets that description. I’ve also learned to embrace the changes in my business and now enjoy this evolutionary process -it’s like a grain of sand being tossed into a pearl.
One of the things I’m most proud of right now is my group I created during the pandemic-I woke up one night with so much anxiety about the anxiety of my clients and I thought-I know I’m not the only therapist who is holding so much while also navigating my own grief and loss. Out of that, I created Tending the Tenders-a five week online support group for therapists and other wellness practitioners. It’s all about grief support along with learning how to do grief better both in their personal and professional lives. I love it and will be doing my fourth group starting in September of 2021. If you’re interested-go to my website and see it under my services tab. Another legacy I’d like to leave is helping others practitioners do grief better so that more people receive the care and support they need when their life goes upside down due to sudden grief and loss. I can’t help everyone who needs it, so this is one way to help more people.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would say my main support regarding grief work is Sobonfu Somé, blessed memory, she died in 2017. She taught me how to befriend my grief through doing Dagara style grief ritual from West Africa. Grief is seen as part of life, not something to do alone, the community matters and holds the container to do the work if you’ve been shattered by grief. Doing grief ritual with her was one of the best supports for me during my acute grief. I learned so much from this ritual and I now honor her and her legacy by giving back some of my funds to support her village in Africa.