I Am More: Anita

I first met Anita when she was cast in “Greasy Pole: The Musical” with Dylan, the first year we moved to Gloucester. She played “Mama,” the matriarch of the Italian family at the center of the story about the famous Gloucester tradition. She was as warm and vivacious as her character. A few weeks later I was surprised to see her at a Buddhist talk giving the introduction. Her personal story stunned me and stayed with me. I’m grateful that she is willing to share it now with you:

Anita, 2017. Pastel on sanded paper, 15×21 inches

I am more than sadness, broken-heartedness, and grief. I am a strong, openhearted woman who has survived great loss and deep sorrow.

Over the past seven years I have learned to live again in a new way.

Although my life didn’t turn out as I had hoped, losing my closest family members, I am now able to see the beauty, richness and blessings amidst the heartache and grief. Now I know more than ever that life is precious and brief. For it was by walking through the fire of deep woundedness that I learned many things that inform my life now.

Photo by Anita Pandolfe Ruchman

It wasn’t always this way…the losses came in succession…the marriage, and in the year 2000 my 13-year-old middle daughter left home for good. In 2004 my mother died, and then my father in 2007. When my 19-year-old daughter died by suicide in 2010 it was as if I was mortally wounded and completely lost.

Life as I knew it was shattered in a million pieces.

I was stunned, humbled and stupefied. All the grief from the previous losses came washing over me along with the tsunami of Nora’s death from undiagnosed depression.

I had been immersed in the deep study and practice of Buddhism which helped me know that somehow amidst the horror of her death, and the magnitude of these accumulated losses, I would survive. I realized that miraculously I had everything I needed to deal with the unfathomable loss. My life came to a halt. Unable to work, I knew I had to be with the deep wound of losing my child, my parents, life as I knew it. If I was ever going to be of help to others again I must take time to feel and heal.

Photo by Anita Pandolfe Ruchman

I felt totally crushed and unable to do anything but cry and let others care for me. I went into a great free fall; it felt like the entire community of Cape Ann held me up. All the people I knew, and others I had helped as a nurse, massage therapist, and midwife came to my side, supporting me in my time of deep grief. Through everyone’s care and love I learned what true Community really means.

Now, seven years after the death of my daughter, I am living again; experiencing joy along with the sadness. Helping and serving others is my mission.

Informed by my own grief journey, I have created a private practice I call A Tender Place ~ Mind, Body, Spirit Therapy. Nothing lasts and therefore we all experience, at times,  great sadness and loss. Through my work I can journey with others who wish to explore, heal, and learn how to live again in a new way.

Photo by Anita Pandolfe Ruchman

Among the things that have helped:

  • On-going study and practice of meditation, yoga, and retreat
  • Massage therapy
  • Psychotherapy with a therapist skilled in post-traumatic loss
  • Consulting with a psychologist who specializes in loss due to suicide
  • Writing in a journal to Nora
  • Taking part in a loss-due-to-suicide support group led by a professional
  • Learning about suicide loss through AFSP, taking part in their annual Survivors Day
  • Training to help other survivors
  • Attending the Compassionate Friends National Conference
  • Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 3.44.02 PMSound healing and music therapy
  • Tree planting and gardening
  • In memory of projects; creation of the yearly project I call “Books in Nora’s Name” which involves donating children’s books in her memory
  •  Memorial scholarship
  • Practice of doing for others, including volunteering to help the hungry and homeless


“Whoever finds love

 beneath hurt and grief

disappears into 

emptiness with a 

thousand new disguises.”




If you would like to share how you are more than your depression, grief, bipolar disorder, addiction, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorder or OCD please email me at amykerrdraws@gmail.com for a Writing Guide.

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6 thoughts on “I Am More: Anita

  1. I feel a part of your journey and our paths intertwine and nourish us both . Rivers bend and turn but also flow ; our lives do the same . Some places feel stuck but the water keeps it all moving ; the ocean is a beautiful source for us all .


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