Life After Loss – Avon – Towne Post Network
A freelancer writes about grief, healing and moving on
Screenwriter / Jamie Hergott
As a full-time freelance writer, Christy Heitger-Ewing is no stranger to sharing her true, authentic self with the world. Since she was a child, she has gone from writing short stories and comics to being published in over 60 magazines and writing over 2,500 magazine articles.
Heitger-Ewing, who writes regularly for Avon, Brownsburg and Plainfield Magazines, recently published his 14th article for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” collection, titled “Muted Joy.” It is one of life’s greatest pains: the loss of one’s mother.
“I’ve always been super transparent in my writing,” she says. “This story is about how I walked this path and started to breathe, live and laugh again.”
When Heitger-Ewing started freelancing 18 years ago, she submitted story ideas to various magazines and anthologies, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” being one of them. She was drawn to these posts because they are a collection of poignant stories written from personal life experiences, and it gave her the opportunity to share her life with others.
Many of his “chicken soup” stories revolve around his mother, Rozella, who was Heitger-Ewing’s biggest supporter in life.
“She was kind, gentle, generous and had the biggest heart,” she says. “Unfortunately, she also struggled with clinical depression. Unfortunately, she lost that fight in April 2013. That’s when my world fell apart.
After losing his mother to suicide, Heitger-Ewing was wracked with agony, guilt, anger, sadness, and confusion. The feelings were relentless, like the constant pushing and pulling of ocean waves that cannot be contained. They were so overwhelming that she wasn’t sure she could recover from the pain.
Heitger-Ewing acknowledged that his mother’s generation didn’t often talk about mental illness. Above all, they did not share internal struggles with others. Her mother kept her pain to herself, and that’s precisely why Heitger-Ewing decided to write about anxiety and depression.
“It breaks my heart to think about her suffering in silence,” Heitger-Ewing says. “After his death, I became a big advocate for mental health awareness and started volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Over the past nine years I have written extensively about depression, anxiety and suicide because I want others to know that they are not alone, that there is help available and that people care.
In “Muted Joy”, she recounts how hopeless, helpless and lifeless she felt after her mother’s death. She shares the pain and the journey she has traveled, and she also shares the vital tools she used to heal from that pain. One such tool was a support group at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville. She said the group was her lifeline during the first two years after her mother’s death.
“It was my safe place where I could go and be in the company of other people who knew exactly how I felt without me having to explain it,” Heitger-Ewing says. “Again, it comes down to sharing honest, true, and real feelings.”
Heitger-Ewing wants others to know they are not alone. She is passionate about sharing the hope she has found in her grief journey. She recognizes that grief can be deep and heartbreaking, the kind of physical pain. She knows this pain well, but she wants to let those who are grieving know that the degree to which the pain cripples you will not last forever.
“When you have trouble eating, sleeping, thinking, or functioning, it won’t always be that way,” says Heitger-Ewing. “You can’t skip it, go around it, or pretend it’s not there, or you’ll prolong the pain. If, however, you allow yourself to feel your feelings, if you find appropriate support systems, if you use tools to help you deal with your grief, that pain slowly begins to subside.
Besides her support group, Heitger-Ewing relies heavily on her other go-to tools, such as exercise, journaling, and volunteering. All of this helped her slowly heal from her loss.
She feels her story is particularly poignant at this time in history, as there has been a spike in anxiety and depression across all demographics since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Enduring sustained trauma is so hard on us psychologically,” she says. “I want people to recognize that it’s understandable that they’re struggling. I want them to not be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional.
Heitger-Ewing also has a lot to live for and knows that life goes on after loss. She and her husband Eric have two sons and four rescue cats. Her passion for running and writing, which she practices daily, are activities that nourish her soul. At the height of her heartbreak, running helped her tap into her emotions while providing a break from the daily grind of grief.
“Being in nature and doing quiet miles as tears streamed down my face was extremely cathartic,” she says.
Her love for human interest stories has led her to contribute to a number of local and national publications, always hoping that her writing “inspires hope and uplifts weary souls”, she says. “I share the good, the bad, the ugly, but also the beautiful. I don’t like fake. What’s the point in that? When we share our authentic feelings, that’s how healing happens.
Visit his author website at christyheitger-ewing.com.
The Hendricks Regional Health Support Group for Survivors of Suicide Loss meets the first and third Tuesday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m.