In our lives, we meet people that make a difference. Dr. Howard Winokeur was someone who touched my life in a memorable and meaningful way.
I met Howard when I joined ADEC (the Association for Death, Education, and Counseling) almost 15 years ago. I remember walking in the hallway on my way to a seminar when I saw this gentleman with the most welcoming smile on his face coming my way. He introduced himself, and through his warmth and comfortable presence, he made me feel at home. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship as we kept communication regularly until ten days before his passing. I didn’t know he was sick; therefore, when I read the news through an email from ADEC, my heart froze. I was shocked and numbed. I read the email three times to be able to comprehend what had happened. I could not believe that this man, who just a few days before had told me on the phone he was on his way to a Tennis match, had died. What had happened? He had contracted Covid-19 and took his last breath at home. My heart sank with so many memories coming to my mind and soul.
I remembered his joy and wittiness, his passion for life, and his love for music. I remembered how he played the guitar at ADEC conferences. Through his music, he lifted our spirits and made us cry and laugh. His wittiness was incomparable. He had a unique combination of humor and compassion. I remember that when my mother died six months ago, he called me to hold a loving space for me. We spoke for almost an hour. Just before hanging up, he made a funny and cute comment, and I laughed. He also laughed and said, “now, you can say I made you laugh in the midst of your pain”; this was Howard. He had a way to turn things around with love and care.
As a professional in the field of grief and loss, he was brilliant.
He wrote several books and was an international presenter. His work was recognized through numerous awards. He embodied the grief professional you want to have next to you: compassionate, caring, loving, and hopeful. Something I loved about him was his desire to lead by example. He talked about self-care, and he paid attention to his needs. He regularly played tennis, meditated, and did Yoga. Every year he fastened for two weeks. He believed in having a balanced life.
When he was ADEC president, we had the annual conference in Miami, Fl, where I reside. This conference was a special one. It was combined with the International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society. He was very excited about this event and dedicated himself to make it memorable. We visited different organizations that could support him or be interested in participating. It was a success, and it meant a lot to him.
As a colleague, I trusted him with my heart. When I was a PESI presenter with my seminar Transforming Grief and Loss, I could not deliver my seminar a couple of times due to health issues.
I called him to see if he could support me in presenting on my behalf. He made the time as he knew my 11 Principles of Transformation® were very special to me, and I trusted him with them. He said to me, “I know they are your baby. Don’t worry, just tell me how you want me to present them”; this was typical of Howard. The last time he presented the seminar was in May, and he did it in Zoom, as live seminars were canceled due to the pandemic. I had the pleasure of sharing some time with him at the beginning of the Zoom presentation. The way he introduced me will always stay in my heart.
Howard impacted my life and the lives of the many people he touched through his teachings and his love.
He made a difference in this world and will be missed.
ADEC and the world are grieving this loss; however, his legacy continues touching our hearts.
He is an inspiration for all of us. Howard, you continue living in our hearts!