By Deborah Burke Henderson, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Reverend Lee Atherton is a professional officiant and life coach. She offers highly personalized services for anyone facing one of life’s momentous transitions.
Inclusive and welcoming, Atherton believes that no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome. An ordained minister and former hospice chaplain, she founded CoachRev @The CrossRoads nearly a decade ago to help others navigate and honor life’s transitions and milestones – meeting them at whatever crossroad in their lives.
“I will help guide your journey to discover what is most meaningful for you and for those you love,” Atherton explained, “before, during, and after death.”
Helping people live their dying
As a trained end-of-life coach, Atherton “helps people live their dying, make decisions and choices that honor their unique values and beliefs, and navigate the white waters of grief with hope and grace.”
Atherton remarks that her work is tremendously fulfilling. She calls it powerful. Amazing.
“It is such an incredible honor to be invited into someone’s end-of-life journey,” she added. “It is hard to put words around the experience.”
She coaches those grieving both in-person and online. Her monthly online newsletter “Stepping Stones” and daily emails (under the header “Tossed Pebbles”) offer messages of comfort, encouragement, and thoughtful reflection.
Workshops on the ‘Five Wishes’
Atherton also conducts workshops centered on the “Five Wishes” advanced medical directives and offers customized retreats, workshops, and webinars to support those grieving.
“It is so important to make these critical decisions in the living room, not the hospital room,” Atherton said.
Service dog Shadow – an integral partner
Atherton’s Black Lab service dog, Shadow, is an integral partner in the CoachRev team, helping others in desperate need.
Shadow accompanied Atherton last fall to visiting hours for a 21-year-old woman who had taken her life. There were people so shocked by this young woman’s passing they couldn’t speak or intermingle.
“Shadow senses anxiety and stress. He sat next to several guests and put his head on their laps. He helped them relax. They opened up to him about how they were feeling. That’s what I call a ‘God incident,’ when something bigger is at work.”
Atherton as Fire Chaplain
In her “spare” time, Atherton volunteers as chaplain for the Hudson and Littleton Fire Departments, is a member of the Massachusetts Corps of Fire Chaplains and serves on a Critical Incident Stress Management Crisis (CISM) team. CISM teams throughout the state and the country respond to first responders who have experienced a crisis.
Certified as a CISM response dog and an instrumental partner in the CoachRev team, Shadow is also present, helping firefighters and other first responders, as well as other individuals and family members touched by tragedy.
Methods of self-care
“Staying grounded has a lot to do with family and the outdoor world,” Atherton said, adding, “I love gardening, growing things, and watching the koi in my fishpond.
She advises others, “Take care of you in the midst of it all. Be aware of how you feel and what you need. Don’t be afraid to step back. Pause when you need that moment of stillness. Do things for yourself that will help keep your emotional well from running dry.”
Shadow would probably add, if they haven’t already done so, discover the unconditional love of a pet.