Grieving Brings Perspective

I have been grieving for a month – grieving the loss of one of my best mates in university. Even though there are years between us, his death has still hit me very hard. Death brings many things, from the space left behind by the lost loved one, to the reflections that significant loss can bring.

Meeting at University

We met at the start of our first year in university. We had rooms a few meters apart and we introduced ourselves in those first few intense days. There were so many people to meet and there was mentally coming to the realisation that we were finally in university! For both Jim and I, university was a larger-than-life dream which seemed almost unattainable from our childhood vantage points. We had both been raised in low income families. No one in my family had ever gone to university and I would guess this was similar for him. We arrived idealistic and excited at the opportunities that lay ahead.

Our Shared Perspectives and Experience

I am not sure how we realised that we had so much in common, but perhaps it was because it was so easy to talk to each other. We both had a strong sense of justice, especially social justice. Seeing how those without power were manipulated at our university brought a shared sense of wrath – words weren’t necessary. We became very close.

Sharing Our Dreams

We both had many dreams for the future. Being young and idealistic has its benefits – especially when you are trying to get through university without money. Jim and I spoke of the lives we wanted. We both wanted to live in such a way that we were able to make positive impacts in the lives of others. Many late night study sessions were full of our hopes and dreams. He inspired me and I hope I did the same for him.

Going on with Life

Jim finished university two years before me and then he went out into the wide world. We kept in touch a bit – this was before the Internet was popular – but eventually we lost contact. Before losing contact, he was the best man at my wedding and he shared his news that he was getting married. I was studying in Mexico and months away from moving from North America to Australia (and then New Zealand), so I missed his wedding. We re-connected on Facebook around 2009 and it was as if there had been no pause in our relationship. Friendships can be like that.

Jim’s Death

Jim’s widow advised me that he had died of a heart attack. He had three young girls and a devoted wife. This news hit me hard. I am finally coming out the other side of this grief.

My Reflections

I have spent just over a month reflecting on Jim, his influence in my life and what all of this means to me now. We were young and optimistic together, so these memories allow me to not only reflect on Jim and our relationship, but also on my own life. We both wanted to help others and – in different ways – we allowed things in life to distract us from those dreams. If someone had told him that he would be dead at 52 and his professional dreams would not be reached, I know exactly how university Jim would have responded. He made so many sacrifices for his dreams. Of course many things went well – his lovely family, for example – but his career never really happened. This makes me reconsider my own dreams and how they have played out in life. In addition to sadness, I am also newly driven to become what I had imagined those late nights studying in cafes with my dear mate, Jim.

Goodbye, Jim

I will always remember your genuine smile. Your kind words and stability were what I needed when I first began university. You continue to be a model of how a man can overcome adversity. Thank you for all you have meant and continue to mean in my life. In some way, when I help others you will be helping them, too. Sleep, old friend!

Goodbye Ram Dass

There are few people who search for “truth” wherever it might lead. Most of us are held back by fear, excuses, or lack of passion. Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert) was a man who had many changes in life, but pursued his inner light and was able to say that Dying is Absolutely Safe.

Richard Alpert (1966)
Richard Alpert (1966)

I encountered Ram Dass when I was new to meditation back in 2003, but his influence will live on in me. I have only really just begun to consider what he had to say about existence.

Ram Dass
Ram Dass

An introduction to his life is here:

His YouTube channel is here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXA5htGOTCxc67ASZkPtcg

Lee Jordan

Lee Jordan, Director of Narratives Aotearoa Ltd
Lee Jordan, Director of Narratives Aotearoa Ltd

Background

Lee began his life in North America, growing up in the Midwest of the USA. After completing an undergraduate degree and then two years of law school, he decided to follow a dream since he was 15 and travel to Australia. After more than a year in Australia, Lee travelled to New Zealand with his girlfriend, backpacking a week on the North Island and two weeks on the South Island. They decided to move across the ditch and at the start of 2000, they moved to Christchurch. There have been a few moves since then and Lee has become Australian and New Zealander.

Counselling

Lee’s first counselling experience was in 1983 and then he continued counselling in volunteer roles after he started university in 1985. His last semester in university at the start of 1990, Lee took a course in Person-Centered Counselling and considered this as a career option. Life moved along quickly and Lee got into a number of other areas of study which he thought would allow him to help others.

Bachelor of Arts

Lee studied Theology and History as an undergraduate and finished his BA in May of 1990.

Master of Business Administration

After moving to Australia, Lee took on a number of roles and decided to reinforce his work experience with more study. He started an MBA in Sydney and finished after moving to Christchurch in 2000.

Graduate Certificate in Teaching Second Languages

Lee had been a volunteer tutor to refugees to the USA while studying law. Lee taught evening classes in English as a Second Language and started a Master of Education in this topic, receiving the Grad Cert after completing the first half of the units for the MEd.

Master of Education

One of Lee’s passions is teaching and his MEd allowed him to delve into instructional design and a wide variety of related topics that assisted in his continued development as a teacher.

Master of Counselling

Lee had interpersonal and psychological issues in 2008, with the breakdown of his marriage and at this time remembered his love for counselling. At the start of 2009, he started a MCouns degree and also started training to be a telephone counsellor with Lifeline Christchurch. These separate efforts were incredibly complementary and Lee considered not only how he might counsel people in-person, but how he might use technologies to assist those in need.

Research Interests

Group Therapy, Grief and Bereavement Therapy, Integrating Narrative Therapy with other therapeutic interventions, Narrative Therapy training, Narrative Therapy facilitation models which train others to facilitate NT group work.

Week at Dulwich Centre in Adelaide

I bought this website just over a week ago, while in a week long intensive at the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide. Narrative Therapy started with Michael White of the Dulwich Centre (and with Kiwi David Epston), so it was great to be where it all started, enjoying the course and Adelaide.

I will have more to say about my course and Narrative Therapy more generally, as this site develops.