We had the good fortune of connecting with Casey Gauntt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Casey, what role has risk played in your life or career?

In my first career spanning over 40 years, I was a corporate lawyer representing sophisticated entrepreneurs and financiers in the real estate sector. My clients were the risk takers. My role was to advise them as to potential risks in a transaction, minimize downside and do my best to protect them when things went badly. I was averse to risk and could never see myself doing what my clients did. That began to change in August of 2008 when our 24-year-old son, Jimmy, was accidentally struck and killed by a car walking home from a party. Much beloved Jimmy was a rising star in Los Angeles as a playwright and screenplay writer. A life with so much promise was extinguished in an instant. My unfathomable grief was compounded by the fact I never truly dealt with my father’s death by suicide when I was 20 years old. My father’s financial difficulties combined with his PTSD from two hellish years in the South Pacific during WWII became too much to endure. All of that repressed pain and anger rushed through the crack opened by our son’s death creating a tsunami of grief that nearly crushed and extinguished me.

I was literally saved by a miracle. Three months after Jimmy’s death, my father came through the veil—38 years after his own death—to rescue me at the precise moment I needed him the most. I wrote that story, The Letter, and shared it with family and close friends. That was the genesis of my 2nd career as an author, grief advisor and activist in the grief and healing community. This first miracle was soon followed by several more signs and messages from the other side of the veil in the form of elaborate, hair-raising and goosebump-producing synchronicities orchestrated by our son that deeply touched our family, friends and many of Jimmy’s friends. I wrote and shared those stories as well with those close to me.

I was still practicing law as all of this was unfolding. This was not only deeply personal stuff involving the topic few are comfortable talking about—death—but it was also really “out there.” Getting help, signs and messages from the dead? And I was a very private, risk averse, white-shoe lawyer whose writing portfolio at the time was comprised of complicated contracts. What would my clients think of me? My friends?

I suppose I made the decision to come out but, honestly, I think the decision was made for me from the other side. I was also driven my Eckhart Tolle’s mantra: “Be fearless in your life.” What did I have to fear? The worst thing had already happened. I knew, deep in my heart and gut, these miracles and messages weren’t meant only for me and my family. They were bigger than that. They needed to be shared as far and wide as possible. Moreover, this had nothing to do with me or what others may think of me. It was bigger than that.

In 2010 I told the story of our first miracle in a ten-minute film THE LETTER made by my good friend Steve Date, which has been viewed by thousands. [A link to the film can be found on my author website.] In 2011, I launched our website Write Me Something .Beautiful; A journey of loss, love and discovery to share our stories and the healing stories from many others. In 2013, I co-founded a group of fathers in San Diego who have children that have transitioned and who meet regularly to share our pain and help each other with healing. We call ourselves the Fraternity, the one God forbid you ever have to join. This led to our first book, SUFFERING IS THE ONLY HONEST WORK, that came out in 2015, followed in 2021 by WHEN THE VEIL COMES DOWN. A few months ago I pulled together a book of stories about my family’s more colorful characters, THE GAUNTT-CASE CLANS. The first chapter, “Healing with History,” has been well received by the grief community. I work one on one with grieving parents and often speak with healing support groups and on podcasts.

Someone asked me several years ago, ‘Was there a turning point for you with your grief?’ And I replied, “Yes, when I got to a place where I could begin to help others with their grief.” There is perhaps nothing more gratifying than helping others with the loss of someone they deeply love. Our stories of miracles and messages from across the veil bring hope and awareness that we never really lose the ones we love—we can still find them, and they can always find us. It provides others with the courage to step out and share their own miracles and messages.

I don’t think of what I’ve been doing the past 13 years as a second career. It’s a calling. And when you are pursuing something you are called upon to do, “risk” is irrelevant.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

I spent over 40 years in the private practice of law in California specializing in corporate law and real estate finance. I was fortunate to represent some of the most sophisticated entrepreneurs, developers and financiers in the real estate sector. I helped bring to fruition many billions of dollars of real estate projects and developments in California, Arizona and Texas. The work was hard, high-stakes and pressure filled. I enjoyed the challenge of working with multiple parties and disciplines, and diverse personalities, to get a complicated deal done. I’ve always gotten along well with all kinds of people, respect opposing viewpoints, compromise when possible, and be tough when necessary. In addition to the legal work, I was also the managing partner of my firm’s San Diego office that required another range of skills in managing lawyers and non-lawyers, and creating an environment of camaraderie and the right dose of discipline to fuel a highly functioning and successful team.

I am immensely proud of the work I did as a lawyer. But I’ve been vastly prouder of the work I’ve been doing over the last 13 years helping others with their grief and healing from the transition of someone they deeply love. And the work is so much more gratifying. The skills and work ethic I developed practicing law have served me well in this new endeavor. I work at developing my writing and sharing skills every day. I approach the work with discipline and take great care with creating work products that will truly help others. Just as I did as a lawyer, I’m always available for my “clients” and respect the privacy and confidentiality of what they choose to share with me. I try to listen more than I speak, and I’m loyal, nurturing relationships that have lasted many years. I’ve learned the hard way, the work of healing takes time, a long time, and one is never fully “healed.”

What I’ve also noticed in my new line of work is that there are very few men who do it. Women, as a group, are much better than men in talking about death and grief. Most men think they have to “stay strong,” “move on,” and get back up on the horse as soon as possible and for God sakes, don’t talk about “it.” I have learned it’s not only “ok,” but critically important for men to be vulnerable and to watch and learn from other men that it’s ok to openly share pain and talk about their loved ones, cry, and at some point, get to a place where they can begin to help others. When I’m invited to speak on a podcast focused on grief and healing, I look to see who else has spoken, and it is typically 95% women and 5% men. I want to improve that ratio and I hope the work I’m doing will encourage other men to do the same.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

San Diego is a paradise for tourists and out of town guests. We enjoy great weather practically all year long, so some playtime in the waves and walks along our great beaches in Solana Beach, Del Mar, and La Jolla is a must. San Diego Bay is beautiful, and a bay cruise is always a hit and hopefully one of our several aircraft carriers will be in port. Better yet, is a tour of the retired aircraft carrier and now a museum, the Midway, at the foot of Broadway. There are many fine restaurants right on the bay, and I recommend The Fish Market, Coasterra and The Brigantine. One of the attractions of San Diego is within an hour, you can go from the coast into the mountains. There are many hiking trails for all levels of fitness. For the more hardy, a climb to the top of Mt. Woodson, Iron Mountain or Cowles Mountain is rewarded with spectacular views of the county. The Safari Park in San Pasqual Valley is home to some of Africa’s finest wild animals and birds roaming their natural habitat. And for nightlife, the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego offers a multitude of fine restaurants, fun bars, and other entertainment venues.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First of all, my biggest shout-out is to Hilary, my best friend and beautiful wife of 48 years, and our daughter Brittany Kirby, mother of our three amazing grandchildren. We have done our grief and healing work together, and their support and encouragement is invaluable. I am deeply grateful to my clinical psychologist, Dr. Frank Altobello, who has been with me every step of the way as Jimmy and my father came through to help me. He’s held on to my ankles as I’ve gone deeper into the rabbit hole exploring these connections with the other side, and he’s encouraged me to keep exploring and share what I find. Another huge shout-out goes to our fraternity of dads, my co-founders Richard Page and Greg Post, and my Tribe of over 150 parents and siblings who have suffered deep loss. Their insights, miraculous stories of remaining connected with their loved ones, and steadfast support is further evidence that helping each with healing as a group is so much bigger and more meaningful than ourselves and anything we could ever do alone. I am also in awe and have deep respect for Elizabeth Boisson and Irene Vouvalides with Helping Parents Heal. Their on-line international grief support group has over 25,000 members and the work they and their team of volunteers do to help parents around the world with healing from the transition of their children is extraordinary. And of course, I must give a shout-out to my father, Grover Gauntt, Jr., and my son, James Tedrow “Jimmy” Gauntt, and the many extraordinary ways they have shown us that death cannot touch love, we will always remain connected, and the veil is so very, very thin.

Website: https://www.writemesomethingbeautiful.com/

Facebook: Write Me Something Beautiful

Other: Author Website www.caseygauntt.com

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