Meryl Hershey Beck, MA, M.Ed., knows about grief both personally and professionally. In her 30-year role as a licensed counselor, she often helped clients work through their grief.
And then in 2011, her 35-year old son fatally shot himself. By example of her own life, she shows others that a return to wholeness is possible. Meryl created SourceTapping®, a meridian therapy technique that helps ease pain – a tool she uses for herself and with bereaved clients.
Her first book, Stop Eating Your Heart Out, has helped many people deal with their emotional eating issues. And her second book, Loss, Survive, Thrive: Bereaved Parents Share Their Stories of Healing and Hope, demonstrates that a rich, fulfilling life is possible after your child has transitioned.
Meryl has appeared on TV, radio, online summits and is also a frequent presenter at international conferences.
Meryl’s most recent book Loss, Survive, Thrive: Bereaved Parents Share Their Stories of Healing and Hope can be ordered on Amazon here (affiliate link).
Meryl’s script for Source Tapping, a combination of Emotional Freedom Techniques to help you heal and contact your Higher Power, is available here for free download.
To learn more about Meryl and her best-selling book “Stop Eating Your Heart Out”, visit her website StopEatingYourHeartOut.com.
Below is our interview!
Here are some of questions I asked Meryl Hershey Beck
My questions are bolded; Meryl’s answers are in italics.
I lightly edited her answers for reading and context.
How did you get into 12-steps?
Well, let me just say that I had binge eating disorder and was never diagnosed. I just knew I had a problem because once I started eating and I couldn’t stop when I was about 10 or 12, I was just a little kid. I watched on TV a hallmark special on called “Days of Wine and Roses” and it was the story of a down and out alcoholic and how he got help at a place called Alcoholics Anonymous. Then I was just a little girl and in my own brain I said to myself, I wish there was a place like that for me because once I start eating, I can’t stop. I’m a food aholic. That’s what I named myself. But I didn’t pay any attention to whether or not anything like that ever existed.
I just assumed that there wasn’t anything for food. And fast forward, I would think I was 29 years old, my friend said to me, “I’m going to this meeting, it’s an anonymous food group. So it’s a 12 step group for people with food issues. Um, do you want to go?” And I thought, “Huh, there really is a place like that?” I was astounded because I remember that all those years earlier I thought that I needed that kind of thing. So that’s how I got involved in 12 step recovery.
I was ready to go back to weight Watchers or one of the other groups because I would lose weight and gain it back the most weight and gain it back. So this was the time I was looking for something to do. And I will say, I walked into the room and it was held at a church and you see there Wednesday or Thursday night, and my friend and I are both Jewish and we looked at all the crosses and pictures of Jesus and said, what are we doing here we are like a fish out of water, wrong place.
And then people started talking and they shared their experience, strength and hope and they shared feelings. This was new for me. I mean, I wasn’t ever in a place where people openly shared feelings. I was fascinated with these emotions that people were talking about. And I kept going back because number one, I saw people that were losing weight and they, they kept it off. They said, you know, I’ve lost X number of pounds three years ago or whatever and I haven’t seen that anywhere else.
When you started allowing yourself to feel these different things, I imagine it was probably pretty intense. How did you manage the intensity of your feelings
Well, I was really glad that somebody said, if you feel worse, if you’re abstaining, if you’re sober, abstaining, whatever. And you feel worse than you’ve ever felt and you’re doing it right because you’re no longer fishing, pushing those feelings down. So I was warned that it wasn’t going to be fun. But boy, I did a lot of journaling in those days. A lot of stuff was coming up that I hadn’t looked at for years. And years and years. That really helped me. And then I went into therapy. But after first when I went to therapy I told myself that it wasn’t because of me, it was because of my daughter.
No, back in my era, we learned that we “don’t have dirty linen” and we don’t “air it in public”. No, no, no, no. That’s not the way we are. But my daughter is three years older than my son and she was having a separation anxiety so bad when my son was like under a year so bad that when I took her to nursery school, she had a touch the teacher’s hand to let go of mine.
So I went to see my PT, the pediatrician, he was very, he was not, um, into, into feelings and emotions and psychoanalyst, psycho psychosis, any psychobabble, anything, you know, just very straightforward medical. And he said, I think you need to see someone. I went, but that was when I was telling myself I would do that for my daughter, not for me, for my daughter. So I would do it.
I went. Smile, smile, smile, and then suddenly realized, oh no. It’s like, it’s like the shit hit the fan. Like, “Oh no, what’s going to happen now?” It was terrifying that somebody was going to really find out who I am and freeing this. Somebody was going to find out who I am, so that’s how I got into therapy, not because I needed it.
Can you share about about your son’s passing? What you feel comfortable with?
He was living in Orlando, Florida, even though he was 35, chronologically, he was, he had a very high youthful exuberance, especially when it has to do with theme parks. Loved the theme parks universal and Epcot and Disney and you know, all those theme parks.
And he was longing for a romantic relationship and he became friends with this woman in the book. I call her Lola, and she had a young son like about eight, and he wanted it to become a romantic relationship, but she said, I’m really not interested in that way, Johnny, if you want, we can just be friends. And he said, okay, better that than nothing.
So they were friends for many years and he would bring her and her son out to Orlando and they’d go to all these parks and he, he was in heaven. And when he came to visit me in Tucson, he went to Phoenix to visit her. So he had this very close friendship with her. Yet he always wanted more. And five days after she got married is when he took a gun and put a bullet through his own heart. He was heartbroken.
And nowadays I get messages from him, from our connection to wherever he is now. One of the earliest messages I got was, “don’t anybody do what I did. That was so stupid.” And the title of my chapter in the book comes from words he said, which were, I crossed myself over in a stupid way.
We’re connected still. And I talked to him. I get answers a lot, but it’s still not the same as has a physical presence to hug.
You new book Loss, Survive, Thrive: Bereaved Parents Share Their Stories of Healing and Hope” – what inspired you to write this book?
So my friend Robin said to me, okay, so 2011 was when he transitioned beginning in probably 2012, 2013, I don’t know when she said, “I wish you would write your book already. I keep meeting these people who’ve lost somebody. Really important people, especially a child.” I want to give them a book. And then she said to me, “You know, you were a Way Show-er.” And I thought about being a role model, showing people that if you lose a child, yes it’s going to be very agonizing and very painful. But it doesn’t end your life. We want to keep on living, surviving and thriving to honor our kids, their memories, keep it alive, keep us alive.
That was the reason that I started the book is because she wanted me to hand it out to people. And then I started asking other parents who’ve lost a child and they knew somebody else. And these are so far, I think we have, 26 other people in addition to me. The book is about all kinds of losses. So there’s baby loss, like miscarriage and stillbirth, illness and disease accidents, suicide, mental health leading to death. Then we have gold star parents and those are parents who’ve lost adult children who are in an active military duty murder.
We have one story of murder and it’s like heart heartwarming because this is a woman, her name’s Ukiah. There’s like many thousands of views of her humankind video on facebook . She finds me on Facebook, because of my book Stop Eating Your Heart Out, and it turns out that two of the three boys who killed her son were on trial. They didn’t have to catch the third and she looked to them and she’s, “Oh they’re just babies, we can’t have any more lives destroyed.” And she asked permission to hug them and to stay active in their lives. Let me talk about forgiveness. I mean these are the kids that stamped her son to death.
What is SourceTapping®? Is This Related To Your Book Stop Eating Your Heart Out? How have you used it for yourself and your clients?
When we start source tapping, first thing I say to a client after I find out if they want to say, God, source, universe, whatever word.
Yes. Okay. Before we start, close your eyes and do your own little with your higher power. And then I often ask them to also invite in the Devine frequencies, which is a higher frequency and different morphogenetic field that helps move them into healing. So when we start, the beginning is a little bit different than traditional Emotional Freedom Techniques. I released this issue to God source, whatever, to transform it and my relationship to it. Never to take it back again or passively receive it back.
And then at each point we’ve assigned different feelings to the points. So this would be releasing the sadness and then there’s words that go with it and releasing the fear. And then when finished with all the points, bring in the divinity frequencies and then they also bring in a positive feeling. What do you want? You just got rid of all this stuff. What do you want to replace it with?
Did you go back to overeating after your son died? Were you able to practice what you taught in Stop Eating Your Heart Out?
When my son passed away, did I go back to eating? So I had this tool, I had other energy tools. I was so surprised that when I got news of him, no longer being on the earth, didn’t want to eat. In fact, I forced myself to eat plain yogurt and raw honey. That’s what I lived on for a week or two. I mean I couldn’t, I couldn’t eat anything. So I was very surprised because in the old days, I would just grab that ice cream, go find them, candy and cookies, whatever.
I immediately started doing tapping with myself to move the energy through cause I know blocked energies, what’s going to cause the pain. And that’s what they believe in Eastern medicine believe, that the cause of pain is the stagnant and black shade. The energy and the tapping. I’ll move it through.
There’s one other thing I did too. I noticed that the days that were really hard and I felt myself sinking and getting heavier and heavier. And I didn’t know if I’d be able to get out. So I would put a notice on my wall on Facebook and say, “I’m really having a tough day to day.
Please send energy, send prayer, send love sunlight,” and I could feel myself being lifted. So, you know, I still do that. I had a hard time yesterday with something and my friend said, “Oh, my husband and I and my son, we’ll just send you energy.” It felt so much better, so much better. It’s just such a great tool for us to be able to teach to our friends and family, our spiritual family, our community. When we need help, we can go and call, call out, help, I’m drowning, we’ll feel better.
Any advice for someone coping with grief? As the holidays approach, any suggestions on how to, as you would say, stop eating your heart out? Does this parallel some of this wisdom you divulge in your book, Stop Eating Your Heart Out?
Well people use lots of things, you know, food or sex or shocking or you know, internet, you know, lots of things to be distracted. I have said things like to people in terms of advice, that if you want to function – like you have family, you have work, you have other responsibilities, then give yourself a set time when you can really be in that grief and, and, and be feeling it. And it doesn’t have to be for more than an hour. It can be to 20 minutes, whatever it is you want. So set up a specific time so that you are honoring the grief, but you’re not overcome by it all day long. And one of the beauties of source tapping is there’s a script out that I use for cravings and for food.
What has been one of your biggest “Eating Enlightenments” in your personal journey or teachings so far? An insight or lightbulb moment that changed the way you thought about food.
So one was doing my 12 step work when I wrote my whole list of character defects and amends and all that. And when I read it to somebody, I felt totally naked and I remember I didn’t do any “big bads”. These are all little bads they were talking about, but they were all in my list, you know, little bads like say to my brother, “Oh, Danny, put your lip lip on the ice cube tray and then the pull the skin off. Oh, you poor thing. I didn’t know that would happen.” So I wasn’t outwardly jealous or hostile or angry with him at all, but little bit of sideways stuff would come out. And when I became learn to become open in 12 step recovery, it was the most freeing thing I could ever imagine. Yet I didn’t have to hide who I am.
I didn’t have to be ashamed of who I am. For a long time I was, I was ashamed that I was going in those meetings. And then I was so grateful that that came into my life and I had those meetings to go to and I had people that could love me just the way I was. They helped me develop a plan so I could move forward in my own personal growth work.
The second thing that comes to me is the woman that’s my best friend, Robin. She is the one that held up a mirror to me, this was before I wrote Stop Eating Your Heart Out, and she said, This is who you really are” because I saw only the negative, you know that what I told you before, my list of minuses went on and on and on. She held up the mirror and said, look, this is who you really are.