...is a Reiki Master
Having completed Usui Reiki Levels I, II & III from 2011-15 and achieving Master Certification from her Reiki Master in Niagara Falls, ON.
...is a Death Doula
Having completed the Contemplative End of Life Care Certification program at the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto, ON. She went on to co-create Home Hospice Association's Death Doula Certificate Program and their MAiD and the Death Doula workshop and co-facilitates those several times a year.
...is an Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula
Being a co-creator and co-facilitator of Home Hospice Association's Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula Certificate Program, and supporting parents in her community with one on one support before, during and after their loss.
...is a Bereavement Specialist
Having completed the Bereavement Education and Grief & Trauma Counselling programs through the Canadian Centre for Bereavement Education and Grief Counselling at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, ON
Merri-Lee provides services to clients from all over the Niagara Region and the GTA. Born and raised in Burk's Falls, Ontario, she has called Niagara home since relocating there in 1990. She lives in a country bungalow on an acre of land with weeping willows, a frog pond and her soul mate; this is their sanctuary. Merri-Lee is blessed to have the unending love and support of her adult daughter, dear friends and close family who have encouraged her each step on her own soul journey.
Hello, my name is Merri-Lee, founder of Soul Journeys Healing & Companioning. My healing journey began in 2008 when I first experienced Reiki and immediately fell in love with the energy. The treatment had been a gift from my husband, who after hearing about a colleagues' experience with it, thought it sounded like something I would enjoy. Although I had heard of Reiki before, I had no idea what to expect so I just went into my appointment with an open mind. As soon as the treatment began, I felt a sense of warmth, peace and safety that I'd never felt before. Even days after the treatment, I still felt 'light', calm and clear, as if I was floating in my own personal bubble of protection. There was no denying the effects it had on me; the mental clarity, the physical relaxation, the emotional well-being and perhaps best of all, the spiritual awareness. From that point, Reiki became an important part of my life; not only as part of my regular self care, but I decided to learn how to channel the energy to heal myself and others. I have seen and experienced, first hand, how Reiki can heal and promote overall well- being, as well as help heal grief, and those struggling with transitioning from this life to the next.
That leads me to the next part of my journey - to 2010, when I companioned my own mother through the last 6 weeks of her life and honored her wish to die at home, surrounded by her family. Journeying with her and then losing her were the most rewarding and painful experiences I have endured thus far, and it was that very experience that inspired me to pursue an education in Grief & Bereavement and End of Life care. I witnessed my Mum's need to 'get things in order', to dedicate possessions and to say her goodbyes. I also witnessed the sense of purpose it gave her to cross each of these items off her list. I realized that she was being an active participant in her dying when she was no longer in control of her living. So, at her request, we called her nearest and dearest home, sent an email to thank others for their love and friendship over the years, and had a Minister come to the house to give her last communion with her husband and children. In those last days, she shared laughter, stories and tears with all of us, and then contentedly drifted from this life to the next. I was in awe of the peace it had given her to create the space she wanted to die in, to fill it with those she wanted there and to share her hopes of what was yet to come for all of us. The peace that all of that gave her helped the rest of us immensely with our grief, and so, I realized that it is something I can help create and facilitate for others who are dying, and their loved ones; to allow them a similar opportunity of beauty, openness and peace.
When I reflect on my life, death has been present from the moment I was born, when my mother died giving birth to me due to a very rare and undetected pregnancy condition. Thankfully though, it wasn't her time; her life was saved and I was blessed to have her as an incredible mother, teacher and friend for the next 37 years. My mother was a very spiritual woman who raised me to know that death is part of life, not the opposite of life, to be comfortable with dying and death and the mystery of what comes next after, having experienced it herself. Because of her enlightenment, I have never been afraid of being around a dying person, being present at the bedside when someone dies, or even dying myself. Because of her guidance, I have been able to hold space for the dying and support the grieving; first through my hospice volunteer work and now through my private practice. Because of her death, I heard and answered my calling to work with the dying. Because of my experience with losing her, I heard and answered my calling to work with the grieving. Because of her openness and spirituality, I heard and answered my calling to be a healer. Because of her, Soul Journeys Healing & Companioning was born in January 2015 with the intention to "Help make Living, Dying and Grieving more Meaningful through Healing."
Although she is no longer in this world, my mother continues to be a very big part of my life. She is still the compass that guides me and she will always be the very best part of me. In her memory and in honor of her, I will help to heal, enlighten and support the living, the dying and the grieving on their own soul journeys with compassion, curiosity and insight, as she taught me to.