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Exploring Life & Business with Maryann Udel of Sheltering Tree

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maryann Udel.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I began my work guiding people through loss long before I even realized it.

When I was 24 years old, my husband was killed suddenly in an automobile accident and I was thrust into the world of grief. After that, I always knew what to say to help others through their own losses. It seemed that no matter what situation I was in, people would seek me out for support, advice or just to listen to them.

When my husband died, I found a way to continue with my life – moved to New York to pursue an acting career, lived there for 10 years and met my current husband (we just celebrated our 35th anniversary) and had a son.

Eventually, we moved to Los Angeles and things were fine until my husband was seriously injured at work, I had to get full-time work to pay the bills and continued to do so for more than 15 years,

Yet it wasn’t until I was almost laid off from my job that I realized I wanted to be a coach to help people through life’s major changes and the challenging feelings of grief. I started studying, got my certification and began my coaching practice while I was still employed full-time. When my layoff officially happened a few years later, Sheltering Tree became my full-time business. I know that this is what I am supposed to do with my life.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Getting my coaching practice started was a struggle. Going through the coaching certification process and starting my practice while still working full-time meant that I had a limited amount of free time. I couldn’t afford to quit my full-time job until I had enough clients to support the family. But with a full-time job, I didn’t have the time to grow my business as quickly as I wanted. However, knowing that I had no time to waste, kept me focused. I did what I could with the time that was available. And when I eventually got laid off, I figured out how to get the clients I needed fast! Nothing like being pushed out of the nest to start flying.

During my lifetime, I noticed common misconceptions about grief and I often have to explain it.

Our culture has not allowed for people to feel their grief. There’s shame and pain; also an unspoken taboo about talking about it.

So part of what I regularly do is educate about grief and loss through speaking engagements.

There’s a misconception that grief is something you get over. People feel like there’s something wrong with them if they aren’t better after six months. They feel broken.

In reality, grief is a normal human response to loss. It evolves over time but never goes away. As a coach, I guide my clients through the process of learning to fully and happily live with their grief.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I work with individuals, groups and corporate clients who are dealing with loss and / or a major change. They are lost, ungrounded and unsure of where to turn for answers. I guide them through a proven process to make peace with the past and live fully in the present so that they can embrace the promise of their future.

Everyone’s experience with grief is different and my work honors each individual. I offer group programs, 1-on-1 sessions and corporate contracts.

My clients vary and the type of loss has ranged from illness, divorce, break-ups, death of a loved one (human or animal), job loss, retirement and empty nester.

I’ve also served as a confidential, compassionate resource for employees going through a major company layoff. Conversations with me were offered as part of the exit package.

Because I have evolved with my personal grief, I understand that it’s possible to live a full and happy life after loss. The process I guide my clients through is based on that evolution.

People often tell me that they feel comfortable and calm just being around me. I never underestimate the power of being heard, seen and understood.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I use the Headspace and Calm apps as part of my daily, morning practice to remain calm and grounded. I often recommend these to my clients as well.

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