Just show up, says inspirational speaker Yvonne Heath

Inspirational speaker and founder of "'I Just Showed Up' is speaking tonight in Sudbury to teach people how to be present and listen when someone they know is struggling.

People don't know what to say or do when others are struggling, says founder of 'I Just Showed Up'

Heath says people often don’t know what to say or do when someone they know is struggling. Her advice is to just show up, be present and listen.

Yvonne Heath wants to help others do it differently.

"It" is helping people get through hard times like grief, death, divorce, or even the loss of a job.

In her work as a registered nurse, author and public speaker, she has realized that people don't always know what to say or do in those challenging situations.

Her message? Just show up.

"What I want to teach people is that you don't need a PHd to love and support people," she said.

Her presentation I Just Showed Up teaches people to show up for themselves and others so they are empowered and resilient when grief arrives.

Heath is giving a free I Just Showed Up talk this evening at 7 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Conference on Elgin Street in Sudbury. It's open to the public. 

"You can't fix problems . . . but if we can just show up, the biggest thing is we can just be present and listen," she added. 

Heath says she's heard it hundreds of times. People don't know what to say or do when someone they know is struggling.

"I want to teach people it's always better to do or say something," she said. "You can even say 'I don't know what to say but I'm here. I don't know what to do but I'm going to sit with you.'"

Heath says she wants to be a voice for change.

"Why would we know how to just show up for others because we don't talk about it until we are in crisis?"

She says we can start in our own neighbourhoods and have a conversation with the elderly person who lives alone, or invite someone over for tea, knowing they've just gone through a difficult divorce.

"Even when we're paralyzed by our own grief or sadness or loneliness or struggles, the rest of life goes on," she said.

"And sometimes we just don't have it in us to carry on. Just knowing that somebody cares is is so extraordinary," she added.

Heath realized she didn't have great coping skills herself when her son was struggling with addiction.

"My heart was broken in a million pieces and a lot of people avoided me because they didn't know what to do or say," she said.

But when someone left a pot of daffodils on her front porch, the simple gesture meant so much that she still tells the story.

When Heath looks back on her 27 years as a nurse, she wishes she had done "it" differently.

"I was very compassionate but I suffered and I truly wish that at the beginning of my career I knew how to just show up for myself first. And that I knew how to just show up for others without trying to fix it and suffer along with them," she said.

"In this journey we call life there will be challenges. There will be grief. There will be loss," said Heath. "And I'd love to help others do it differently." 

With files from Jan Lakes