Woman’s desire to help others driven by own experiences

Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult things anyone will ever have to go through. It may take months, even years, to fully come to terms with the loss.

Berlinda Owens is a Life Coach from Hiawatha, Iowa. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)
Berlinda Owens is a Life Coach from Hiawatha, Iowa. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

However, there is someone who can help you turn that grief back into joy.

Berlinda Owens of Hiawatha, is a life coach, who specializes in helping people work through their loss, whether it is a loss of a relationship, career, or the death of a loved one, so they re-engage live with joy, a more meaningful life.

After graduating from Mount Mercy University in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology, Berlinda said she realized she wanted to help others deal with the challenges of everyday life by becoming a life coach. She enrolled in The Life Purpose Institute and received her certifications in life and career coaching.

“People ask me all the time, what does a life coach do? Here in Iowa the profession is not well known, but in big cities like Chicago, the profession has become a household name.”

Berlinda said her desire to help people comes from the influence of the good and caring women in her life.

“I was born in a little town in Alabama, Panola, which was later changed to Aliceville,” she said. “We moved in with my grandparents after my parents divorced when I was 2, so my grandmother practically raised me. She was so kind and hospitable, that she would invite anyone in and put a plate of food in front of them. She had a love for God and a love for people. She was my rock.”

When Berlinda was 9, her mother remarried and moved to Cedar Rapids. Her stepfather was the assistant pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Church. She and her sisters grew up singing in the church, and when they weren’t in church, they were singing around the dinner table with their stepfather.

“My mother and I had a strained relationship when I was growing up,” she said. “I was short and overweight. I remember my mother saying, ‘Why can’t be more like your sisters?’ I felt like I had to be perfect.”

Though their relationship was sometimes difficult, Berlinda said her mother was a good woman, a replica of her grandmother.

“My mother was just like my grandmother, she loved people, too and had a powerful energy and lit up every room she walked into.”

Berlinda said her mom was very involved in the church, and would invite the college kids to their house on the weekend if they didn’t have any place to go.

“She would feed them, washed and pressed their hair, let them do their laundry. I was a little put-out because I felt like they were intruding, but I finally realized that she was caring for these kids. I still have people come up to me today and tell me how good my mom’s cooking was.”

Her mother also ran a daycare in their home, Stevens Daycare. “Her tagline was, ‘Rock around the clock’ because she would watch kids all around the clock, day and night. She would feed the parents and give the kids a bath, too, so all the parents had to do was take them home and put them to bed.”

Berlinda said her mom had suffered with health problems for quite a while, but it was extremely difficult for the whole family when she passed away last year.

“During the last six months of her life, I walked away from coaching, but I have no regrets,” she said. “I was able to spend quality, meaningful time with my mother and enjoy the time we had together.”

After she passed away, Berlinda went through a period of grief that had an effect on her own health. “I started trying to eat my pain away,” said Berlinda. “I was just eating to eat. I gained over 10 pounds, and finally went to the doctor for a check-up. My blood pressure had gotten high so that she wanted to put me on blood pressure medicine. I asked her what the alternative was, and told me to lose weight and reduce my sodium intake. I thought about my mother, and what she had gone through with her own health issues, what she would say. I became determined to lose the weight again, and I did. Three months later, I had lost enough that I didn’t have to take medicine.”

It was then that Berlinda realized that everyone who loses a relationship or a career grieves, and that everyone grieves in their own way. However, some people become stuck and need a little help. That’s where Berlinda comes in.

“When people grieve, they disengage themselves from their lives and are swallowed by their grief. I connect with them by sharing my own grief journey, giving them the skills and tools to help them move forward through their grief and find joy again.”

Berlinda said sometimes people just need a little help re-engaging their lives. She knows this from experience. Berlinda’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was very young, and seven years ago, she and her husband, Ken, lost their jobs within two weeks of each other.  And if that wasn’t enough, her daughter, Jennelle was severely injured in a car accident a year before, and Berlinda underwent neurosurgery for a rupture disc between C5 & C6 six months prior to her mother died.

However, the painful experiences she has gone through has only made the desire to help others stronger.

“I’m building on what my grandmother and mother started,” she said.

Berlinda and Ken also have a son, Zach and two grandchildren.

When she isn’t busy with Life Coaching and spending time with her family and catering business with her retired husband, Berlinda serves as the Spiritual Care Director and Vice-president on the Board of Directors for His Hands Free Medical Clinic. She is the co-facilitator Grief Share at the New Covenant Bible Church, as well as a member of the Downtowners Watts of Talk, Toastmasters, and the International Coaching Federation.

“After my mother died, I remember feeling like I was only existing. It’s like I woke up. For the first time, I feel like I am really living.”

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