Linda Sovdi is the Health and Wellness Manager for Some Other Solutions, one of our United Way partner agencies. She has been working in the area of grief and loss in a number of different roles over the last 20 years. Linda was a guest on the IMPACT radio show on January 24th.
The mother of five grown children, all front-line workers, Linda was raised in the tiny community of Kaslo, BC. Her father moved to Canada after escaping Bulgaria. He earned a living by doing high-risk jobs, like rock scaling.
When she was 13, Linda’s family made a complete switch by moving from Kaslo, population 500, to downtown Vancouver.
“It was such a shock,” she recalled. “I went from a community of 500 to a school of 2,000.”
Tragic losses of family members and a close friend helped inspired Linda to move in the direction of roles that had her helping people going through grief and loss.
“I have tasted the bottom,” she said. “I know what it feels like and tastes like. I have chosen to live my life to be there for people when the bottom opens up and drops them on their head.”
Linda spent 10 years working in a hospice providing palliative care. She has also been an advocate with victim services for 15 years. The last 6 years have been spent working with the team at Some Other Solutions.
She loves her work and the support she is able to provide during the darkest of times.
An unspeakable honour
“It is an unspeakable honour to be invited into precious places of vulnerability,” she said. “It’s a tremendous feeling to realize somebody is trusting you with very private, intimate, delicate, sensitive, moving, information. It’s their life.”
While providing care and a listening ear to others, Linda is very careful to ensure that she practices effective self-care.
“I was at conference recently where I got to hear Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a world renowned grief specialist,” she said. “He said that when you are in this line of work you need to work hard and play hard. If you don’t, you won’t be working hard in short order.”
As the community of Fort McMurray continues to rebuild and recover from the devastating wildfire, Linda has begun to see growth in the number of clients struggling.
“Massively,” she said. “I am just starting to see the deep-seeded issues, some, only now experiencing PTSD. I’m really seeing some traumatic, dramatic effects on people, and it’s only this many months in. I think we’ve got a long journey in front of us.”
As the weeks go by, soon we’ll see signs of spring and the inevitable one-year anniversary of the fire and evacuation. While this event has been massive for some people, and emotional triggers are likely to arise the closer we get to the anniversary date, Linda is optimistic.
I think we’re going to be OK
“I think Fort McMurray is an incredible community,” she said. “I think we’re going to be OK.”
If you are experiencing personal difficulty, or you just need a compassionate listening ear on the other end of the phone line, call the SOS Crisis Line at 780-743-4357, that’s 780-743-HELP.