Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.
Talking about grief isn’t something people do a lot in our society. It also is something many people only associate with death. But Carrie Becker says grief can be connected to any loss.
“As an End-of-Life Doula I have been talking about planning for end of life and transitions and those things that seem to be taboo, and people seem grateful when it is brought forward,” says Becker who started her business Connective Care to offer counselling, consulting and support to people and their families who are dealing with a variety of challenging situations.
“I just wanted to help people; I knew that’s what I needed to do. I acknowledged that I had a personal experience that I could intertwine with my professional experience, and I wanted to find a way to help people.”
Becker has been in North Bay since she was 10 years old and has spent the better part of the last 20 years working in mental health and social services.
“I’ve worked with seniors, youth, teenagers, young adults, mental health, and brain injury victims. I’m very accustomed to intensive case management and working with vulnerable populations and it’s a really big passion of mine.”
But she says that time spent within the system led to a lot of disappointment with how the system works.
“I was noticing a lot of gaps in the systems and seeing frustrations from a professional standpoint and hearing that from clients, I decided that I can do more and I’m going to do more.”
On October 28th, 2022, she launched the Connective Care business, and immediately “People were drawn to it, because it was needed. They liked the content I was presenting, and they were interested,” she says. “I get this a lot that people are saying my credentials and my training and the way the information is presented is something they appreciate, and it develops trust between myself and the people who need the information and I think people are just grateful that someone is talking about these things.”
Becker says her social media reach has allowed her to home in on her specialty and expertise in a way she couldn’t before while working in the non-profit sector.
“I’ve found I’ve been able to find my own voice using my social media to do a lot of education. Specifically on death and grief education and that has been super important to me,” she says, adding “I have done several speaking engagements around grief and people are very drawn to the information and education provided, and this interest is consistently growing.”
“I’ve been getting a lot of messages from people who have been thanking me for what I’ve been doing, and people are saying more of this needs to be done. Now, I’ve noticed more and more people are doing it and I’m very happy about that.”
Becker says she was a troubled youth and she dropped out of high school multiple times before graduating from the Nipissing Alternative school when she was 21.
“I had one teacher who said to me, “Carrie you are really smart, you could actually go to University,” and I needed that and that pushed me to do that. I went to Canadore College first, taking the Social Service Worker Program and then I took Sociology and Social Welfare at Nipissing University. I have since become a lifelong learner, continuing my education in counselling techniques, risk assessments, and more.”
Becker can also relate to a personal experience dealing with the child welfare system.
“When I was 30 years old, I took in my brother's children from the child welfare system, and I became an instant caregiver of some children with some really challenging needs. I was lucky because I was already working in the social field, so I was very tenacious navigating all of that, but even then, it was so hard because it doesn’t matter who you are or what your skills are when you’re in a crisis situation it is a challenge,” she says.
“I also learned that as a caregiver you are surrounded by multiple professionals who are telling you different information and it can be very confusing. So, to have an advocate with you to help you sift through all of that becomes super important. I became frustrated because as a person who is very thorough and motivated to know everything I need to know, I often knew more than those that were serving me, and that’s why it's so important for me to help people sort through not only all the information but all the different systems they are working with and all the different professionals they are working with.”
Becker says when she first started her business plan, she did a very thorough job of researching what was needed in the market.
“I had drawn up a plan that this business was specifically geared towards seniors. I noticed a Canada-wide trend when I worked in Mental Health services that we have an aging population, and we are not equipped and trained to deal with the specific needs of someone who is transitioning from an apartment to a retirement home or facing a situation where their health deteriorating,” she says.
“But I felt that only gearing it towards seniors was doing a bit of a disservice to the community. So, while I have specific skills for seniors, it's something that could be for everyone. I am a certified aging consultant, but everyone can use these services.”
Becker says it comes down to helping people with transitions. “That’s what I help people with, putting those pieces together, learning coping skills and attaining resources. There are lots of resources out there, but just navigating systems can be complex and so what I’m able to do is meet with clients, do an assessment and let them know what is really going to work for them and I can do that well because I’m so familiar with the resources locally and nationally. I want to help people get a simplified version of what they need and simplify something to take the stress out of their life.”
Becker adds one of the first pieces of advice she gives to people in this field is they have to learn about self-care because they are dealing with a lot of intensive and high-stress situations.
“I think it’s very important to educate people on self-care and compassion when you’re working in this field. You need to take care of yourself first in order to help others, otherwise, you can’t be efficient at your job.”
Becker adds she’s proud of the fact she can provide something to the community that combines her personal passion and her professional skills.
“My advice is to have a look at yourself and learn where your passions are and go with it. It is challenging and it is scary to be an entrepreneur and not have that safety net but when you look at the big picture and what you can do for the community as a whole with your skills and your expertise, it is well worth it.”
If you have a story idea for the “Rooted” series, send Matt an email at [email protected]