Anita Pandolfe Ruchman, who has faced the worst that life can give, is back in the health care business with renewed and expanded talents.
“I feel I can give back through my work and I want to help people heal who have suffered traumatic losses,” she said.
In her holistic practice, Ruchman, 59, draws from her background in nursing, massage therapy, midwifery, childbirth education and psychotherapy.
But this mother of three also experienced unimaginable pain when she learned that her 19-year-old daughter, Nora, was found dead in her University of Massachusetts dorm room, a result of suicide in 2010.
Two years after that loss, Ruchman has opened a private practice at her Rockport home. She calls her practice “A Tender Place,” where her mission is to provide therapy for the mind, body and spirit.
“You spend a lot of time looking back when someone takes their own life, but there were no signs,” she said. “With the loss I experienced, I can help other people because I know the devastation and incredibly challenging place someone can find themself in when they lose a child, or face a sudden death, a traumatic death and loss in general.”
She explained that she designed her office space to provide the patient with a warm and comforting environment. There is a wood-burning stove in one corner of a sitting room that is filled with natural lights and plants.
“The practice is based on a holistic, integrated model in which I care for the whole person. I help people release what they need to from their bodies,” Ruchman said. “There are things we can’t access just by talking alone,”
For about two years, she said she really felt like all she could do was live quietly with her practice and study of meditation and play in her garden.
“I was quiet for two years and focused on learning and healing,” she said. “There are some traditions in indigenous cultures that when someone has a profound loss, they go into retreat for a year or two and when they come up, they are ready to deal with the community again in a new way and that’s how I feel.”
In 2004, Ruchman completed her bachelor’s degree from Lesley University with a focus on Women’s Learning and Development. She earned her master’s degree in nursing in 2007 with a specialty as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions. And she draws on her years of midwifery practice to bring a holistic psychiatric model to child-bearing and menopausal women as well as families dealing with stress and challenges.
Now, she says, her rebirth into the world is proving a rewarding experience. She is doing outreach work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help other survivors of suicide loss and provide support around the issues of education and prevention.
“I feel like in opening my practice, I’m giving back to my community that has helped me recover and helped me heal,” Ruchman said. “So many people showered me with love and support.”
Kate Seidman of Gloucester, a long-time friend, recalled how Ruchman organized “blessingways” in the early 1980s, an effort in which she took part.
In those gatherings, the mother-to-be could ask questions and learn from the older women who would share their wisdom on motherhood.
“Anita is compassionate and kind. She has been through so much pain that she knows pain and really wants to help people with theirs,” said Seidman. “Compassion and experience are amazing healers and Anita has a lot of both, and a lot of education. She is a natural because she is empathetic. She really cares about people and I think we are lucky to have her in the community.”
For more information, visit Ruchman’s website at www.atenderplace.com or call 978-546-6599.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or firstname.lastname@example.org.