Anne-Marie Zanzal

I am Anne-Marie Zanzal and I specialize in accompanying people on the grief journey that are part of life's transitions. 

What is a life transition?   

It can include many experiences but my focus is caring for those who have lost a loved one through death and/or a spouse or partner through divorce or break-up.  I also provide support for those coming out later in life. 

Transitions are the place of unfamiliarity, ambiguity, and questioning.  It is the place between having left one familiar shore but not yet having arrived at the other.    Metaphorically I compare this to a river. Once you start the journey (either unwillingly or willingly) there is no going back.  

I provide compassion and companionship for this grief journey.  You are the narrator of this story and my role is to provide emotional and spiritual support as you process this loss in your life.  

Transition or the in-between holds tremendous potential provided we are able to navigate the fear, sadness, grief and unknowns.  Engaging these difficult emotions is the birthplace of hope.  

 

Our November Retreat

Can you say amazing?

I have worked with people in transition for years, with the last seven in hospice. After my own coming out and getting to “the other side”, I realized that the universe had prepared me to help other people on this “brutiful” journey. Along with my beautiful compassionate partner, Tonda, we were able to host a gathering the first weekend in November.

Six brave women trusted me enough to come and share their stories and hearts. We shared, we cried, we laughed, we understood, we identified, and WE DANCED. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like being with a group of people who “get it”. 

Tonda and I feel so blessed to be a part of this weekend. We have changed each other in ways known and unknown. Thank you so very much! Sending peace and love to you all.

“ Your genuine warmth and caring shine through in everything you do, I love how you love people unfettered by bias and preconceived ideas of how we "should" all be, and I admire your courage to share your journey to be your true self.”
— Terri
 

My Biography

Like all of us, my journey through life is filled with twists and turns with many ups and downs. I am a minister in the United Church of Christ, educated at Yale Divinity School where I received a Master of Divinity. I was ordained in 2016. After this, my life took another turn and I finally acknowledged who I truly am — a lesbian and a member of the LGBTQ community. My coming out story is a story of transformation, where the lessons learned can be applied to any of us as we go through expected or unexpected change. It is a story of loss, grief, rebirth, renewal, redemption, hope and love. I am able to tell this story within both the progressive Christian narrative and humanistic framework.  

I have worked in hospitals and hospices for the past decade and I am an authority on end-of-life issues and hospice. I am a compassionate bereavement care provider through the MISS Foundation. I am a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker about grief and end of life journeys,  sprinkling the information I share with both personal anecdotes and storytelling.  

My passion is to meet and guide women and men through their individual transition stories. I am a retreat leader with an upcoming later-in-life gathering which focuses on sharing our story, acknowledging our grief and preparing for the future. I also offer new life coaching and support groups for those who are unable to attend a retreat in person.  

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Grief Counseling

FRIEND - GUIDE - COMPANION

The ocean is a concrete way for people to describe the varying emotions and experiences of grieving. Even when we are ready for the grief to pass it sometimes returns quite unexpectedly, hitting us with a wave of emotions. As time goes on we come to expect these periods and know that we can, and will, survive.

I am trained as a minister and as a professional chaplain.  Many people use the word chaplain loosely, but when you meet us in hospitals and hospices we are often rigoursly trained.  I participated in  clinical pastoral education completing both an internship and residency.  My training is an acute care hospital made me the woman I am today.  As an interfaith chaplain I see people no matter where they are on life's journey, from those who describe themselves as religious/spiritual to questioning to "none".  I am also a Compassionate Bereavement Provider through the MISSFoundation.  I am a friend, companion and counselor for people who are in the midst of grief and struggling with a loss or change in their life.  I call this change transition.  Transitions can include a death of a loved one, divorce or ending of a partnered relationship, miscarriages, coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community, retirement, job loss or change and many other experiences.  

I offer support groups. These are small groups of 4-6 people experiencing similar transitions who gather for mutual support.  It is an opportunity to provide hear each other's stories, share our experiences, find common threads,  and build community with others who know this shared experience.   We participate in both active discussion and listening around our transition.   

I form new groups as I receive interest.  The cost of the online sessions is $90 for six meetings.  The meeting day and time are mutually determined by the group.  Please email me and put "Support Group" in the subject line and do not be afraid to share a little of your story as well.  Access to a cell phone or computer is required to join the meeting.     

For those who are interested in grief support in a private setting I offer one-on-one counseling .  My philosophy is that I am a companion and friend on this journey.  I will offer insight and direction when asked, but my primary role is to support you in the decisions you make in your story.   Access to a cell phone or computer is required to participate in counseling.  


Curious? But not ready to commit?  Let's get to know each other!  Sign up for a 30 minute session free.

 
 

Coming out Later iN life?

Welcome, welcome, welcome!   I am so glad that you are found this page.  First of all, Congratulations!  I am so happy that you have embarked this journey to acknowledge your sexuality and no matter where you are on this journey you are so very welcome here.  I provide online support, resources and retreats for people who are coming out later in life and those who love them.   If you live in the Nashville area we can meet in person!  

What is later in life?  

That is totally self-defined and I have worked with people as young as 25 and over 70.   

 
 
 My four wonderful amazing beautiful loving children last Christmas.  

My four wonderful amazing beautiful loving children last Christmas.  

Before

I was married for 27 years to a man and I have four children.  For some of us acknowledging our sexuality is a very difficult thing to do.  Although I know I was attracted to women in my younger years, I thought every straight woman had these feelings and instead of acknowledging them I chose to deny.  It wasn't until I was in my early 40's and read a magazine article about the fluidity of women's sexuality was I able to put words to my feelings and experiences.  Over the course of 10 years I tried to come out of the closet three different times. It wasn't until I was ordained as a minister that I found the courage to let go of pieces of my life and embrace the person who I created to be and finally began to live authentically.  You can read my story here


During 

The later coming out process can be challenging as it is a reordering of how we have viewed ourselves in the world.  It can be a letting go process of long term marriages and relationships.  It often is a sharing of our identity with those with whom we have always sought approval, spouses, children, parents, family and friends.   I have found it very helpful to look at this process through the lens of grief, because grief is our bodies physical emotional and spiritual response to loss.   Conversely this also an experience of finding your tribe and perhaps falling in love with the gender that is correct for our emotional, spiritual and physical needs.  It is an experience of opposites and I would not trade this experience for anything in the world.  It is both difficult and easy, painful and healing, letting go and grabbing hold, bitter and so very sweet.  

 

 Being with people who "get it" is the greatest gift you can give yourself.  

Being with people who "get it" is the greatest gift you can give yourself.  


 My loving and supportive partner Tonda and I. 

My loving and supportive partner Tonda and I. 

After

I am now several years out of the closet, much changed and healed by this experience.  I moved from New England to Nashville, TN to live with my partner.  I worked for the last decade as a chaplain in both hospitals and hospices.  I also worked as a bereavement counselor and grief support group leader.  I believe my previous life prepared for this moment. My partner compare coming out (she has been out for 30 years) to crossing a very deep swift flowing river, that once we are in, we cannot go back and we have to keep going until we are on the other side.  I on the other side now and want to support the "newbies" and the "sort of newbies" as well as those who are just exploring their sexuality in the LGBTQ community.  Confidentiality and privacy is imperative in my practice and either in one-on-one counseling or in a support group I promise to provide a safe place for YOU to be YOU.

 

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“ It was wonderful to hear your story, your wisdom and wit. I love your perception of God, energy and spirit. I knew you were awesome way back when I had a chip on my shoulder with *religion* and we had a discussion in the office kitchen. I was floored when you didn't slam my theory or preach to me lol. You are so inspiring. May you have many many years of love, health and happiness. ”
— Jackie
“ Transformation is the journey you are on. You are exploring the wisdom of your soul. You are shedding old ways and beliefs that no longer fit who you are becoming. Be brave, dear one, you are becoming your authentic self. ”
“ I sought out Anne-Marie's counsel and guidance to help me deal with some of my feelings of guilt. Anne-Marie is a fantastic listener, showed a great deal of compassion and empathy and offered very insightful and heartfelt advice on how to care for myself in this process of grieving and letting go. After a session I feel uplifted, empowered, and loved. ”
— Anne H.
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