As a spiritual grief counselor, Nina Impala depends on her personal experience with grief to help others through their own journey. She uses HeartSight in her therapy sessions. She’s also the author of Dearly Departed: What I Learned About Living from the Dying, and spends some time discussing her work with Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley. Located north of San Diego, Impala uses her own stories about handling hospice care and the dying process in her guidance. Impala lost her parents and says “I had no idea the impact a parent death can have on a (adult) child,” and that’s a sentiment shared by many.
She wrote the bulk of her book while doing extensive volunteering. She found, working with people in grief, that there are unresolved issues sometimes several decades old that linger. “Behaviors after the parent dies are so much more difficult and so much more suffering is involved,” she says. Impala had her own issues with her father, and “lucky me, I had dreams before he died…and we talked about it.” She knew he was dying, and had four precious months of conversations.
While her father’s death was expected, the death itself was unexpected after being hospitalized. Impala’s mother died slowly of breast cancer. However, “a lot surprised me by my grief,” she says. She feels she made peace with her father, but with her mother the experience was completely different. “She did not want to leave this earth,” says Impala. “With her, what helped me the most was I really stayed in the present moment.”
She learned to nurture herself by surrounding herself with a support group—particularly others who have lost their parents. Building a support group takes effort and time, but it’s paramount for an easier route to healing.