Michele Lefler of Living Moon Meditation: “Permission to throw out the rules”

Permission to throw out the rules. There are no rules. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. You know those “X Stages of Grief”? And I say x because there’s not even consensus on how many there are. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is that you should throw them out. I hate the […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Permission to throw out the rules. There are no rules. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. You know those “X Stages of Grief”? And I say x because there’s not even consensus on how many there are. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is that you should throw them out. I hate the thought of stages of grief. First, it implies a linear grieving process and that is extremely rare. Grief is all over the place. But, even when that’s acknowledged, stages of grief implies that every grieving person will experience every “stage” at some point. Wrong. Some do. Some don’t. So, throw it out.


The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.

Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.

How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?

In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michele Lefler.

Michele Lefler is a certified shamanic healing practitioner, Gendai and Karuna Ki Reiki Master, and certified life coach. She is the founder of Living Moon Meditation, a transformational wellness company aimed at helping woo-minded high achieving givers get unstuck when they are spiritually and energetically drained by supporting and teaching them to put themselves first.

Her experience in meditation, spiritual studies, and coping with grief anchor her work with clients in healing from past wounds.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Where do I start? I’m laughing, but seriously, there’s so much I could say about my childhood. I am the middle of three daughters, and my parents divorced when I was four years old. While that has had a definite lasting effect on me, I think what was most influential was that my father had custody of us, so I grew up, not without a mother, but without my mother being a daily influence on my life. That wasn’t the norm in the 1980s. My Grandmother had a large influence on my early years, but it wasn’t the same as having my mother there. This led to a lot of deep seated emotional and abandonment issues that contributed to my having perfectionist tendencies. I thought that if I were good enough- perfect enough- my mother would come back.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There are so many to choose from! If I had to pick one quote as my favorite, I think right now it would be this quote by Abhysheq Shukla, “Life is too ironic to fully understand. It takes sadness to know what happiness is. Noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence.” This speaks to me on so many levels because it sums up the life experience. We all experience these events which we think of as negative or bad, but they aren’t that at all. We need these experiences to understand and appreciate what we consider to be positive and good things. If we keep the mindset that all experiences teach us something, then it’s much easier to endure the painful experiences.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Spirituality. I have a strong belief system that underpins everything I do. It’s not traditional by any sense. Well, there are some traditional elements. I take my religion, blend in various spiritual practices, and stir it all together with a big dose of magic. You won’t find many people like me, but it works for me.

Changeable. I have this ability to adapt to what comes my way. Some call it resilience. Some call it adaptability. I call it changeable. I’ve weathered enough storms and traumas in my life to know that whatever I do will change at some point. Life is all about change. I’m able to change with it which means I spend less time fighting the inevitable.

Empathy. I feel other people’s energy. I can read the energy when I walk into a room. I can understand what other people are feeling even when they might not know. As a result, I’m a generally understanding person.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?

I have experienced several dramatic losses and changes. I will stick to one for the sake of this interview. In 2011 my husband, Jeremy, passed away. He was 24 and I was 31. We had been married for three and a half years when I came home from work one day and found him. He had not been sick, and he did not have an accident. He just passed away in his sleep that day.

What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

The fact that it was sudden and unexpected with no real explanation was the worst part. Like I said, he had not been sick. His health was fine. There was no accident. He had just died. One day we were married and happy, and the next day he was gone.

How did you react in the short term?

Honestly, I have no idea. I do not remember at all. The short term is very hazy, and I know now that the not remembering is a reaction to the trauma of such a sudden loss.

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?

It’s been ten years and the dust hasn’t settled. To be frank, it never will. There will always be dust from a dramatic change. But there does come a time when you have to start putting the pieces of your life back together. I tried to get back into my normal routine as much as possible as quickly as possible. He passed away on a Monday. The following Monday I was back at work. I remember I had stayed at my dad’s house the week of his death, but the week after I moved back to my apartment. I also started leaning heavily on my faith community at that time. And after a few months I started reaching out for support from online support groups so I could be in touch with people who had experienced a similar loss.

Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?

The thing for me is that I didn’t do anything to let go of any of it. The constant pain dulled after awhile and then lessened. It kept decreasing until it was no longer part of my everyday life. I think I can’t say I let go because that would imply that I have “gotten over” it, and that won’t ever happen. This will be a part of me for the rest of my life. And that is ok. It has made me who I am today. And I still experience the pain from time to time. It’s much less frequent and less painful, but it still happens.

Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?

I got honest with myself on who I was and what I believed. One of the coping mechanisms I had to my parents’ divorce was to mold myself into who I thought other people wanted me to be. It’s common for children to internalize divorce and blame themselves, and I did that. I thought that if I were good enough my mom would come back. I thought she left because I wasn’t good and that she didn’t love me. Of course, I was wrong, but I didn’t know that, and it shaped the first thirty some years of my life.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

My dear friend, Retta Overman. I met her after Jeremy’s death. I had been looking to meet new people and she ran a group I joined on meetup.com. We hit it off immediately at the first event I attended and were practically inseparable for years. We spent so much time together each weekend that I honestly don’t think there was a week we didn’t see each other. Except for the times we traveled and didn’t do it together! She listened to me vent about the awful advice I was getting from other people. She was a true rock, and I don’t think I would have made it through if it hadn’t been for her. I ended up moving away and sadly we don’t keep in touch as much as I would like. But I’m forever grateful to her.

Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?

Yes. And this goes back to my current favorite quote I mentioned. Over the years I had such a dramatic mindset shift that I can now see my life from a broader perspective. If it had not been for losing Jeremy, I may not have ever realized my true self. I may still be living my life for other people, trying to fit myself into someone else’s narrow definition of life- kind of like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to fit their feet into the glass slipper. That just won’t work, but like them, I tried and tried the same thing with the same wrong result. Wait. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?!

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?

I learned that I can do hard things. It’s hard to be a widow. It’s even more difficult to be a young widow. But I learned that I was able to do it. I’m still here. I made it. I have a vibrant life. Death didn’t bring me down forever.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.

The definition of grief. I have come to realize that so many people don’t know what grief is. First, let me tell you what it is. Grief is a keen emotional response to a major change. Period. End of story. It doesn’t mention death. It doesn’t mention sadness. Just a keen emotional response to a major change. Everyone equates grief to death. But any major change can spark a keen emotional response. Grief is the automatic response we have to any major change.

Permission to throw out the rules. There are no rules. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. You know those “X Stages of Grief”? And I say x because there’s not even consensus on how many there are. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is that you should throw them out. I hate the thought of stages of grief. First, it implies a linear grieving process and that is extremely rare. Grief is all over the place. But, even when that’s acknowledged, stages of grief implies that every grieving person will experience every “stage” at some point. Wrong. Some do. Some don’t. So, throw it out.

Spirituality. I’m not saying you need to believe in God or organized religion. You can. You don’t have to. I’m just saying you need to believe in something. Believing in something bigger than yourself will help you eventually make sense out of nonsensical things. Make it your own. Define spirituality however you want to. Believe in something even if no one else does. It doesn’t matter. Just believe in something.

Self-love. This is the one that’s most difficult sometimes. I know for me it was. I thought I loved myself. But then I got to the point when I didn’t even know what that word meant. And if I didn’t know what it meant I couldn’t honestly say I was doing it. Self-love is crucial because when you experience loss you realize that external people and things will not be around forever. The only thing you can have that will be with you forever is the love you have for yourself. If the value you place on yourself is dependent on something or someone external, then you will lose that value when you lose that person or thing. Cultivate self-love and it will help you put the pieces back together into a beautiful work of art.

Help. We all walk an individual grief journey, but that doesn’t mean we should- or even can- walk it alone. It’s important to seek out others. We need people to talk to, people to hear what we have to say. Our emotions and thoughts are so big during grief, and we shouldn’t keep them to ourselves. Talk to friends or family but know that they won’t know what to say. Some of your relationships will change, and that’s ok. Make new friends. And, if your experience is more than you can handle with friends, it’s ok to seek help from a professional.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to start a movement of radical self-love. To tie back into what I said earlier, I think a lot of people don’t know what self-love truly means. We confuse self-love with self-care. Don’t get me wrong, self-care is great, but you can do acts of self-care without truly loving yourself. Self-care feels good. Self-love isn’t about a feeling. It’s about recognizing and honoring the inherent value in who you are. I would love to start a movement around that.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Oh my, yes! Glennon Doyle. Her book, Untamed, has meant the world to me since I read it earlier this year. She really spoke to my heart and soul with this memoir because the message was just so much how I feel and what I do with myself and others.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/livingmoonmeditation

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/livingmoonmeditation/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

You’re welcome. And thank you for the opportunity for this interview.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Fostering Resilience

    by K.J. Foster
    Community//

    Coping with Grief

    by Sweta Bothra
    Community//

    Want to Support Your Grieving Friend? 5 Truths About What REALLY Helps

    by Candyce Ossefort-Russell
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.