LAKE PLACID When her husband of 38 years said he wanted out, Diana Jacks was numb with grief.
She had helped others overcome losses of every kind during 10 years as a clinical psychologist. She didnt know how she would overcome her own, but she was determined not to be a victim.
High Peaks Hospice, Hospice of the North Country and Hospice & Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley are co-hosting a workshop by Dr. Diana Jacks on grief from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5 at the Hilton Lake Placid Resort.
In her practice, she had seen people become poster children for divorce, death of a loved one or other kinds of loss. They became drug addicts or alcoholics or got bitter or fat. As with her divorce, they had experienced the kind of loss that shook the foundation of their identity.
I had no idea how I would come out of this well, Jacks said.
She fell back on her children, her friends, and her tough minded Finnish heritage. She became reacquainted with her faith and developed an active spiritual life. She used professional guidance and counseling to stay afloat until she knew she was moving forward again.
I learned to be happy without a man in my life. I never thought that would happen, said Jacks, who has since remarried.
Jacks found after studying her journals that she had moved through nine steps in the grief process. She decided to express what she had experienced through art, but she was unable to convey her grief recovery in one painting.
She asked an actress friend to pose for her to explain the steps through photos, then used the photos to create a series of nine oil paintings, called Impact, Despair, Resolve, Struggle, Thinking Through, Finding Ones Way, Blind-Sided, True Strength and Peace.
When other people who had also suffered grief saw the work, they were touched.
They would break down, she said.
A publisher from Quality of Life Publishing of Naples, Fla., saw the exhibit and told her that if she wrote a book, they would publish it. The book, Here to There, Grief to Peace: An Illustrated Journey in Nine Guided Steps, is based on background notes she had written for other counselors to use with the pictures. The book includes cards depicting her paintings.
Her workshop is for people experiencing grief, but hospice workers, social workers, funeral directors, counselors and any other professionals who work with the grieving and are looking for a new approach also would benefit.
The thing is, at the end of every stage they have questions they ask themselves, she said.
As they do, it helps them keep moving toward the goal of peace, but it is not a linear journey. Grief keeps people bouncing around from one stage to another.
There are always new things gumming up your life, but if you have surmounted a life-changing tragedy, it gives you so much, Jacks said. No one wants to be a martyr, This is why you want to survive a tragedy well. You go through the fire and come out your own hero.
If you are interested in learning more about the workshop or would like to attend, go to www.highpeakshospice.com/grieftopeace.htm or call 518-891-9631. Registration is $35 ($25 for students) and includes the workshop, workbook, lunch and a copy of Dr. Jacks book Here to There, Grief to Peace: An Illustrated Journey in Nine Guided Steps. Registration must be made by Oct. 20. The workshop is open to all.