Rachel Kodanaz

Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and consultant that provides encouragement to those who are suffering a loss or setback. Overcoming her own adversary following the sudden death of her husband, leaving her with a two-year-old daughter and her experience in the management of large corporations led her to develop and publish resources about how to support grief and loss in the workplace.

Rachel has presented nationally for 20 years on all aspects of living with loss with an emphasis on the workplace. She is the author of Grief in the Workplace: A comprehensive guide for being prepared and her best selling book, Living with Loss One Day at a Time, has received international acclaim. She is a columnist for Living with Loss Magazine, has published numerous articles and blogs on grief; and has appeared on Good Morning America.

Rachel is available for speaking appearances, educational programs, interviews, and community outreach. She has inspired thousands of people with her unique blend of presentations and workshops. Her authentic, down to earth messages are sure to inspire you to learn, laugh, and live. More information is available at www.rachelkodanaz.com.

Being the One and Only Parent No Comments

Not much changes in twenty-five years when you are faced with an untimely death of a spouse and forced to raise your children as an only parent. Sheryl Sandberg has recently shared with the media the pain of being an only parent, caring for her children who suddenly lost their father…

The Power of Forgiveness No Comments

Recently I presented a webinar on Forgiveness to a large company, in conjunction with the company’s employee personal and family outreach program. The online format provided a much more personal and insightful interaction on the subject than a physical workshop…

Flesh and Fur: Losing a pet is just as painful No Comments

Upon returning to work following the sudden death of my 32-year-old husband, I ran into a co-worker in the hallway. During our first interaction since the untimely death, I was expecting an awkward hug (personal versus professional interaction) and the usual comments – “Sorry for your loss;” “We will all miss Rod;” “Is there anything I can do to help.” Instead, I was dumbfounded when the first words he shared were, “I know exactly what you are going through as I recently lost my dog.” So my reaction was that I immediately applied the breaks to my vocal chords; kept both my arms secured to the side of my body; and most importantly kept the frozen poker look on my face. My reaction internally was, “You have got to be kidding me — my husband Rod is now compared to a dog whose life span is no longer than 18 years?” In my emotional state of widowhood, how could one compare my husband, the father of my child, my soul mate, and my future to an animal? Fast forward a few years and now I have a different outlook on what my co-worker was suggesting. Could he have approached it differently? Perhaps. Was he right? Probably. In my many years of facilitating widow support groups, I am constantly reminded that no two people grieve alike and each grief journey is different based on the individual, the type of loss, life’s challenges, support systems, relationship to the loss and so much more. How could a reaction to loss and subsequent grieving be summarized in only one way when we are all so different? When my mother passed away leaving behind 5 daughters, an outsider would have never believed we shared the same DNA. Our reactions spanned across a huge spectrum. While we all shared the loss of a parent, a few of us wanted to share mom stories, while others thought laughing was rude. Some of us lived far away and did not feel the daily impact of the loss while others did. Some of our children would never meet grandma and learn first hand of who she was. Now let’s take pets into consideration. Society has a tendency to belittle or devalue the emotional devastation of a pet loss. While the loss is personal, there is no public memorial service, no bereavement leave benefit from work, no designated period of time for mourning which leaves the mourner isolated and silent. One of my summer guilty pleasures is to watch America’s Got Talent. Watching the auditions recently of individuals and their pet captures only a portion of the relationship of flesh and fur. For some people, their relationship with their pets is no different than our relationship with another person. So why wouldn’t the pain and suffering from losing a pet be any different than a human loss? Let’s try to imagine the emotions of someone who has lost a pet –- what if their pet met them at the front

Climbing Out of the Ruts No Comments

A new year, a chance to close the chapters of 2015 – both the good and difficult times that occurred, some in our control and others that fell our way. For most of us, the challenges of health, aging, personal direction and the feeling of loneliness force us into ruts, losing the ability to maneuver our way in the most direct and passionate way…

Embracing the Holidays No Comments

Yikes! The holiday season is upon us – how did that happen and where did the year go? Just when you began to enjoy the cooler nights and beauty of the leaves changing colors, the reality of the pending season kicks in. Your hair gets grayer with the anticipation of the stress associated with the season, your calendar begins to burst with obligations and you are literally walking in circles in the kitchen trying to figure out what to tackle next on your never-ending “to do” list. At this moment, how decadent would it be to put all of that behind you and climb into a warm bath with beautiful fragrances, soothing bubbles and truly have the ability to turn off your brain from thinking and your heart from hurting? Or better yet, erase the emotional strain of the past year associated with losing a loved one, learning of yet another friend or family member diagnosed with an illness or the financial constraints causing greater anxiety of the pending season. What if you vow for this year’s holiday season to be different? What if you welcome the holiday season on your terms and embrace the season for you? Whether you are in the tub or sitting on a chair, close your eyes, sit back and envision the holidays ahead – how would you define the next few months? Who would you spend time with? What is best for you and your family? To embrace the holidays means to look at the season in an atypical fashion. For every stressor that keeps you awake at night, think of how the situation can be recalculated or rearranged to eliminate the anxiety: If traveling to family members is stressful because of the time commitment, large crowds and added expense of the season, travel at a different time of the year. If you are known for bringing homemade cookies to an event and you just can’t find time to bake them this year, purchase cookies from your favorite store and arrange them with love on your special serving tray. If holiday gift exchange is out of your comfort zone for whatever reason, you can still attend the event yet opt out of the gift giving. If attending a party alone makes you feel uncomfortable, skip the party and suggest a time when you can spend quieter, one-on-one time with the host. If decorating your house with holiday adornments is taxing on your time or you are just not in the mood, omit them for this year and attend a tree lighting ceremony in your community. If you feel the void of a loved one who has passed or is ill, create a new tradition with friends and family to help avoid the emptiness. If you don’t want to send holiday cards to friends and family, opt out this year – its okay. Changing your outlook on the season is the best way to embrace the joys that are often overlooked. Gather those around you

Please Don’t Try to Fix Me No Comments

Several months after the sudden death of my 32-year-old husband, the subtle hints from my friends, family and co-workers appeared – suggesting the time had come for me to get out more socially, begin sorting through his personal belongings and find the smile I once had. The more they pressed the more I distanced…

The Connection Remains Forever No Comments

What should I do with all the family photographs? How can I share my father’s legacy with my children and grandchildren? How do I remain connected with my mom after her passing? Where can I go besides the cemetery to spend time with my sister? Creating a memorial honoring your loved one is a great way to keep their…

Workplace Memorials No Comments

Just as we have a yearning to remain close to our loved ones when they pass away, we have the same desire to remain connected to deceased co-workers with whom we have spent significant time collaborating and sharing professional goals. While they are no longer physically present, our colleagues’ contributions to…

Clichés of Grief – Fumbling How and What to Say No Comments

This is probably the most overwhelming part for a supporter. Are there really any words to share with someone who is suffering from the loss of a loved one? Of course we can come up with what we think are comforting words, but the majority of us fumble on what to say and how to embrace a friend or family member who…