My Story

About Me

I have had a long career as a financial management executive with various investment companies in the Chicago-area.  The thing that provides me the most personal satisfaction in my professional and personal life is being able to help others with challenges that they are facing in their lives.

After experiencing changes within Corporate America that were not in line with what I wanted, I decided to use my strengths, these being my interpersonal and communication skills, in the role of grief counseling so I could improve the lives of others.

My Family

I was married to my wife, Gretchen, for 40 years until I lost her to breast cancer earlier in 2011.  We have two grown sons, Erik (31 years old) and Mark (29 years old).  Gretchen first had breast cancer in 2008.  She had a bi-lateral mastectomy followed by chemo and radiation therapy.  For 3+ years she was cancer free.  That all came to an end when the cancer cells decided to ravage her body.  The end was quick.  She was in the hospital for only a week.  Gratefully, she did not have to suffer for any long period of time.  However, it was difficult for those she left behind.

The Grief Process

As everyone knows, when one is faced with such a major loss, there is a process that you must go through to address the underlying grief.  It has been documented that it normally takes 5 to 8 years to move through the grief process before one returns to a normal life.  I am the type of person who has no interest in letting the grief process to have its way on me for this length of time.

I am also the type of person who is very proactive.  So I decided to attack the grief process.  At the same time I discovered an organization that specializes in the grief coaching process.  After checking this out extensively, I became part of the Aurora Winter Grief Coach Academy.  Please check out her web site for more information – http://www.aurorawinter.com/.

With the help of Aurora’s grief coaches and my personal drive, I was able to navigate the grief process in only a few months.  This is so much better than giving away many years of my life to the suffering and pain that is part of the grief process.

I want to make it clear that I did not ignore or short change the different stages that one must go through.  However, I was provided the tools to address these issues so I could return to a fulfilling and joyful life.

Fears After Losing a Spouse

Initially, I suffered from the same thoughts that plague those who have lost a loved one.  Will I be forced to be alone for the rest of my life?  How can I enjoy life after I lost the love of my life who I have spent so many years with?  How are my two sons going to be able to deal with the loss of their mother?

I can tell you that these fears were short-lived.  My grief coaches were able to help me address these fears and other issues surrounding the grief process.  They also taught me how to use my personal drive to help me overcome the negative aspects of this difficult part of my life.

Become Grief Counselor

This had such a powerful impact on me that I decided to dedicate the rest of my life helping others to address their personal grief processes.  This is the type of activity that provides me the most personal satisfaction – helping others to address challenges in their lives.

I am in the midst of training to become a professional grief counselor during a year-long program offered by the Aurora Winter Grief Coach Academy.  I have never been more enthusiastic about a career path.  It is what I was meant to do.

What Led Me To Become a Grief Coach

I am a very unique individual.  I have an MBA from Northwestern University and am a CPA.  I have been the CFO of two different companies in the Chicago-area and have held top-level financial management positions at various investment companies.  Even though I have all of the qualifications as a financial type, the aspect of my career that has provided me the most personal satisfaction is helping others, developing interpersonal relationships and my communication skills.  Another way to say this is “I am a financial guy with a heart”, which is somewhat of an oximoron in today’s society.

A major life event, the death of my wife to breast cancer, caused me to reassess my career path.  While I was going through the grief process, which all of us must address when faced with such a major loss, I discovered a totally new career that provides me with a much more fulfilling personal and business life that will be a major help to others who have to go through a similar grief process.

I have become a Grief Coach and am in the process of  becoming certified through the Aurora Winter Grief Coach Academy.  According to a recent Time Magazine article, the average grief process lasts from 5 to 8 years.  This is a large chunk of one’s life to lose or at least to be not very fulfilling or joyful.

Please check out the rest of my web site to determine if I could be of assistance to you or one of your loved ones.

If you wish to contact me, you can reach me as follows:

Jim Koeneman
koeneman@comcast.net
630-267-1647

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