by Marnie Schaetti
The year 2006 is a good place to start the story of Helga Bender’s business. Not that it was a good year. In fact, 2006 tested Helga almost beyond bearing.
That year she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her 30-year marriage was ending. And the unimaginable happened: Her son Ben was killed.
Benjamin John Farrant was almost 26 years old when he went out one morning for a 75-kilometre ride, a regular part of his active lifestyle. He died almost instantly when he was hit by a driver going 120kph in the right-hand-turn lane.
From one moment to the next, the world lost a caring young man, a humanitarian who wanted to make a difference in the world. From one
moment to the next, Helga lost her beloved boy.
Helga had the sense of a complete role reversal in the race of life, Ben handing his mother and his sister Colleen the baton that Helga expected to be handing him. He had run his race. Now it was their turn. But after his death, Helga could barely walk, never mind run.
Not once in the years and trial that followed did the driver express any remorse. At first, Helga wanted to make him bleed. She raged until she saw that the rage would poison her. She had to learn to forgive—not to condone, but to forgive. She had to let go of her anger—not of her memories, not of her son, but of her anger.
In the following months, although she didn’t recognize it until later, all of Helga’s skills and life experiences were converging: the seminary courses she had taken, her Master’s degree in theological studies, and now the transformative power of profound grief.
When Helga walked through Momentum’s doors in 2013, it was because her expected pension had disappeared. She had to find a way to make a living. “I had to move on to Plan B,” she says, “and Plan B turned out to be beautiful.”
“When I walked through Momentum’s door, I was opening the door to my future.”
– Helga Bender
With guidance from Momentum’s Business Development staff, she realized that she had a very viable way to make money. It was a stunning revelation. She could step forward from a crushed existence to be a porter, helping others carry the load of their own dramatic losses, helping them heal. Her example would demonstrate that healing from trauma builds resilience and a huge, open heart.
With help from Momentum’s Business Development training, Helga then gained a firm understanding of all aspects of running a business. She recently launched Helga Bender Coaching and already has repeat clients.
Today Helga is firmly holding the baton Ben passed her. She’s running her race with gratitude, joy and grace.
Check out other stories from Perspectives: the 2014 year in review.