MY HEALING JOURNEY
By Sheri Lerat
I found myself in my unfinished, cement laden basement, surrounded by metallic paint. I disappeared downstairs to escape the chaos his PTSD was causing us. Our kids were upstairs watching tv, and I could hear their soft murmurs through the ceiling, my husband once again, asleep on the couch. A warm mug of tea warmed my hand as a steaming hot tear rolled down my stone cold face. How did I get to this point? How had my marriage become so turbulent? I had married the most loving man of my dreams and couldn’t have hand picked a better father. But, who was that man upstairs and where was my husband? The paint started flowing and I poured my emotions into an expression of healing. My first layer – silver with black- a metallic storm. I was in a personal storm, and now I had created one on canvas.
Four years ago I lost my husband to suicide. Three year prior, I lost him to PTSD.
My name is Sheri Lerat and I am the founder of Karys Layne Candles. Karys Layne Candles is a tribute to the beautiful transformation that can be found through the power of healing. Building this business was healing for me. When I started making candles in my kitchen and painting in my basement, it was a way to cope. Our life was in absolute chaos.
To this day, I still find waves of anger coming up when I need his support. These waves are mixed with longing, and deep hurt, and love, and confusion. How could he leave us like this? His funeral was two days before our 13th wedding anniversary.
I created my own storm of creativity. I began making more candles, and paintings, and eventually began designing my brand. The name Karys Layne was created as a tribute to our children’s grandmothers – my own mom and the mother of my late husband. Both women passed away from cancer before our kids were able to know them.
I launched my website in 2017, the day before our daughter’s 14th birthday. Four days later, my husband took his life.
Just like that, I was a widow. Horrified, at age 37 with heartbroken kids, and multiple surgeries yet to face… alone… all while processing this traumatic new reality. There are no words. I knew how much he struggled and I stood by him every step of the way, but this was unthinkable. To this day, I still find waves of anger coming up when I need his support. These waves are mixed with longing, and deep hurt, and love, and confusion. How could he leave us like this? His funeral was two days before our 13th wedding anniversary.
I walked away from everything and focused on the kids and my own recovery. I cocooned… hard. I didn’t see the light of day for months. We were in pain, and the grief was overwhelming. When I relaunched my company, I came back with a vision of helping and supporting others. My company took on a whole new meaning of resiliency, and of reminding others to take time for themselves. Tapping into my creative side was what got me through my darkest days.
In January 2021, I was honoured when I was asked to be part of the inaugural Wounded Warriors Canada Surviving Spouse Program. During one of the evenings of my stay, the ladies and I created a spa night. We laughed, we cried, and we created deep friendships. As widows, we had connected on such an emotional level, and to be brought together in a space of healing was truly life changing for me. We had some wonderful and beautiful discussions, and the concept for a new candle was born.
The Candle is called Coeur De La Rose which means Heart of the Rose. It was created in a spirit of unity, understanding, and represents the experience that Wounded Warriors Canada now provides for widows. It truly felt like we were given a safe space to open our hearts, so that they can fully heal. Gratitude doesn’t even begin to describe how life changing this program has been for me, as a young widow. We all have a story to tell, and it is in those safe places of being able to connect with others through our trauma, that we are truly given a chance to begin rebuilding our life. Coeur de la Rose is symbolic of the small light that can help light the path for others, while appreciating the healing energy of fire.
I found a way to transform my painful journey into beautiful expressions that bring others joy. For this I have immense gratitude. It has shown me that there truly is healing that takes place in the arts, as well as sharing our stories, and finding our tribe. It is a reminder that we are not alone.