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Rebecca Horsley Bara, 58: Healing Grief and Choosing Happiness

Through the foundation Open To Hope, Rebecca Horsley Bara helps others process grief and loss. She discusses the personal tragedy that led to the foundation’s creation, how yoga helps her process stress and grief, and how she finds radiant happiness.

Rebecca Horsley Bara works with the foundation Open To Hope, founded by Rebecca’s mother and sister, which helps people find hope after loss, helps them cope with their pain, heal their grief, and invest in their future by sharing their stories. Grief is a journey and we are all as humans in this together. I lost my father in my teens, I lost my mom last year, and I lost my much-loved canine a couple of years before that. With my father the loss was sudden; with my mom it was a slow decline during which I was able to process some of the grief together with her, which was a remarkable experience.

These life-changing events may cause us to re-evaluate where we are and where we are going. It can be disorienting. Developing and holding a positive vision of the future while honoring the past and all that it meant to us is how I muddled through my grief and loss. It was hard, and I don’t know if I handled any of this with particular grace. I do know it was very helpful to hear from others about how they processed their loss. Each loss is different, which is also important to honor, but there is a certain commonality in the acceptance of the transitory nature of life. The past is important, but so is the present and the future.

Part of what motivates us is the awareness of an inevitable endpoint, which we continue to approach with every passing moment. To be with Rebecca, whose life mission is around processing loss, is to be around someone who is absolutely luminous in their vitality and love of life. She, much like us, believes in living the healthiest, happiest life we can for as long as we can.

How old are you?
58.

Where are you from?
I was raised in western New York. I have lived in Palo Alto, California for over 30 years and now my husband and I split our time between California and Park City, Utah.

Open to Hope

How did you get involved in grief and recovery from loss?
My brother was killed in a car accident when he was 17 years old. I was a 19-year-old college student at the time of his death. My mother and sister, Heidi, started our family foundation Open to Hope in honor of my brother. I am the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the foundation where I incorporate my expertise in health and wellness with helping people heal their grief.

Tell us about Open to Hope.
Open to Hope is a non-profit, founded 15 years ago by my mom, Gloria Horsley and sister Heidi Horsley with the mission of helping people find hope after loss. We provide an online forum to support those who have experienced loss: to help them cope with their pain, heal their grief and invest in their future.

Doctors Gloria and Heidi Horsley, licensed psychotherapists, host weekly podcasts with over 1 million annual views, interviewing experts in the field of grief and loss. They also host award-winning cable television shows and speak at grief conferences around the United States.

My sister Heather Horsley also works at Open to Hope leading our technology efforts and creative content. To date, we have helped over 2 million people find hope after loss through our podcasts, articles and conferences.

Free Online Conference for Finding Hope After Loss

What is the conference you are having?
Open to Hope foundation is hosting a FREE online International Day of Hope and Healing After Loss Conference on March 14, 2022. We encourage all to attend and find hope after loss.

We will be bringing together an esteemed group of leaders in the field of grief and loss to participate in panels and talks, sharing their expertise and wisdom to help heal pain and suffering from grief and loss.

I personally will be participating on a physical health healing-from-grief panel. I will also be offering a session on meditation and breathing techniques to help with one’s grief and sadness.

What are the types of loss that you help people with?
We help people with every type of grief. We interview those who have suffered the loss of a child, spouse, parent, sibling and pregnancy loss. Loss from suicide, drug overdose, illness, sudden death, military loss, really everything including pet loss and complicated grief, to name a few. Our guests offer so much inspiration making meaning of their own grief whether it’s through starting a foundation, writing a book or tips and tools to deal with and stay healthy during the grief process.

“If we do not take care of ourselves we cannot be there for others and may find ourselves in a health crisis”

We are at an age where many of us are transitioning their parents. What advice do you give people to help them?
We are the sandwich generation. Many of us have aging parents whom we may be caring for. Many of us also have our adult children that need our support as they navigate their lives. It is important for us to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and not just giving all our energy to our family members. As we are told to do on an airplane, put your oxygen mask on first and then put your children/parents’ oxygen mask on. If we do not take care of ourselves we cannot be there for others and may find ourselves in a health crisis.

You seem like such a happy person, and loss can be a heavy topic. How is that?
Thank you for that. Yes, I am a happy person even though I have known tragic loss most of my life with the early death of my brother. My parents have been amazing examples to me. As I said, my mother and sister Heidi started the Open to Hope foundation. They have shown me how to have joy even in the depths of deep sadness. I believe there is opposition in all things and to truly know joy, we also have to experience deep sadness. I choose happiness everyday. I lost my father to a staph infection a little over a year ago. I went through a period of deep sadness and grief. I felt the depth of that sadness and great loss and I knew that was not a place I wanted to stay but allowed myself space and time to grieve.

I love life. There is so much to experience and I want to live life to the fullest each and every day. I love to be around others, people bring me joy, but recognize that I also need to be alone to re-energize.

“My yoga practice is really where I go to work out the stress and grief I feel in my body”

Tell us about your yoga practice. What is it and what do you get out of it?
I have been practicing and teaching yoga for over 20 years. I primarily practice and teach heated power yoga; I love to sweat out my stress. I have owned 2 yoga studios in Silicon Valley, CA, run international yoga retreats and yoga teacher trainings. Yoga is an extremely important part of my life. My yoga practice is really where I go to work out the stress and grief I feel in my body. I always feel better after a yoga class even though there are days where I struggle in my practice and come up against a lot of resistance.

You are just radiantly healthy. What is your routine?
Oh, thank you for that… I think health comes from the inside out. If internally you are happy then you will radiate happiness and health. I am generally a very happy, optimistic person. I surround myself with positive people and try to listen to and read mostly positive news. I also am a stickler for sleep. I love to be in bed by 10pm, reading a good book (I prefer the old-fashioned paper books). I make an effort to meditate in the morning before I get out of bed and start my day. I also am very conscientious about what I eat. I try to eat healthy foods; for me I need a high protein diet and healthy fats like avocados. I also drink a lot of water.

I also exercise everyday and I love to be outside.

“As a holistic health coach, the focus is not the food we put on our plates as most important but how we live our lives”

How do you help people with your holistic health practice?
I recently completed a health coaching course through The Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). As a holistic health coach, the focus is not the food we put on our plates as most important but how we live our lives. Do we have positive relationships, spirituality in our lives? Do we have joy, meaning, purpose, creativity, and financial stability? Are we exercising? How do we feel about our jobs? I start with these categories which are referred to as primary foods and then take a look at what the person is eating as secondary. People can eat the healthiest diet but find themselves unhealthy if their lives are not intact.

What are 3 non-negotiables in your life today?
Number 1 is loyalty to my family. I have been married for 32 years and have 4 children ages 20-29. I work with my mom and two sisters with the Open to Hope Foundation; we are constantly on the phone for work or just checking in.

My second non-negotiable is to exercise/get outside everyday. My husband and I spend the winters in Park City where we ski every day. In the summers, we hike everyday. And of course my yoga practice, going to the gym, any type of workout, really. I love being active.

“It’s important to me to stay engaged in life”

My third non-negotiable is travel. I absolutely love to travel. I am never happier than when I am on an airplane, especially those long, all-day flights, knowing I’m going to learn about another culture and have an exciting adventure whether it’s running a wellness retreat or traveling for fun. It’s important to me to stay engaged in life. I don’t let anything hold me back, especially my age!

To register for Open to Hope’s International Day of Hope and Healing free online conference or to find out more about Open to Hope visit: https://www.opentohope.com/conference/

To reach Rebecca for a free health history consultation or to find out more about upcoming wellness retreats email her: rebecca@opentohope.com

See medical disclaimer below. ↓

2 COMMENTS

  1. Rebecca is an inspiration! Love your dedication to family, exercise & healthy living. Thank you for sharing your story & commitment to Open to Hope. Amazing & beautiful woman inside & out.

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

AUTHOR

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

 

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