HOUSTON — The process of experiencing grief is something society rarely talks about, however, one Houston-area grief coach is bringing awareness to the the subject many of us often avoid.
Nickcole Byrd of 700 AD says her mission to help those who are experiencing grief stems from her own painful experience of losing the love of her life of 24 years in 2019. Byrd said the name of her organization, which was started seven months after his death, comes from a statistic that says within 14 years of the death of a husband, 700,000 women die due to grief and/or a broken heart.
“When I saw that statistic, I said, ‘That would not be me,'” she said. “As a matter of fact, I wanted to make sure that that wouldn’t happen to any of the women I engage. 700 AD is my God-expression. It’s my calling and my assignment in this season to make sure that number decreases.”
Byrd expresses that scientifically, the experience of losing someone you love takes a toll on one’s body. She said one’s grief is exasperated by depression, which results in people sometimes dying due to the impact.
Byrd said she experienced multiple emotional stages after losing her husband. Aside from the support she received from her faith community and prayer, she knew she would need therapy.
“I had seen and I had experienced such a trauma in my life,” she said.
After making sure her son was able to grieve with her support, Byrd said she hit the ground running in therapy. She sees a Christian therapist, which she said is something that makes a difference for her.
“There’s the science of it, but then there’s the faith belief that God is able to heal you and recover you from any experience that you may encounter,” she said.
Byrd said her therapist discussed the five stages of grief with her, a model developed by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. They are:
One of the stages she said really stuck out to her was anger, because as a believer in God, Byrd didn’t feel like that part of grieving had to be a part of her process and life.
“As a believer, you don’t necessarily have to walk through all of those… I prayed to God and said, ‘God, I don’t want to be angry with You, and I don’t want to be angry with my spouse,” she said.
Byrd said one of the first and most important things, in her opinion, is for people to accept the moment and season they’re currently in.
“My life would have to pivot to accommodate the trauma and new changes in my life,” she said.
Byrd said when a loved one dies, one of the things people question are “Am I always going to feel this way?”
“I made a resolve that I can heal and recover and that I would not always be in this space,” she said. “God gave me a scripture to hold onto that says, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,’ so there is a timeline on my grieving process.”
When asked about grief associated with the coronavirus pandemic, Byrd said it is a “crisis within a crisis,” which causes a two-layer trauma. In fact, she believes that the pandemic brought more awareness to the grieving process that so many go through alone.
“I think what COVID-19 did was make people more compassionate to people who are grieving,” Byrd said.
Byrd believes the growth in usage in telehealth services and digital platforms have made a big difference as far as accessibility to therapy and helping those currently in therapy still experience healing. She said she will be hosting and facilitating Grief Chats on Facebook live to give women a safe space to talk about grief and their own experiences. On Mother’s Day (May 10), Byrd said 700 AD will also host an online launch party experience including celebrities and influencers dealing with their own journey surrounding grief via Facebook live.
Advice that she has for people dealing with the death of a loved one is to put a plan in place to treat the “three-part man.”
“For my body, I have to put an exercise regimen in place… it creates a happy experience because of the endorphins that are being released when you work out. I treat my soul, and I treat that through weekly therapy,” she said. The other part she put an emphasis on is the spiritual aspect. “Your faith component, your God talk, your devotion, your meditation, your prayer life is going to be big, because with grief, anxiety will arrive. And with anxiety, we know that according to the word of God, we are to be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication, we are to make our requests known to God. We replace those anxious thoughts with prayer thoughts,” she said.
During this time, Byrd also works with pastors and faith-based leaders across the nation to help people experiencing grief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, 700 AD has one-on-one sessions available for those that are experiencing a “crisis within the crisis (grief).”
Keep up with Nickcole’s ministry by following her on Instagram @nickcole_byrd.