JoAnne M Funch & Heartache To Healing
Resilience on the Road to Personal & Professional Success


Is resilience a learned skill? (Appendix 1) Or are we born with a gene that makes us more resilient than someone else? Is our resilience predictable? How do we measure resilience? JoAnne hadn’t thought much about this until 2005 when she experienced the most devastating year of her adult life where her own resilience was about surviving unexpected loss.  She then looked back at how many times her resilience had been tested.



She grew up in the Midwest back in the 1950’s and 60’s in an economically modest and stable family environment where life was simple, one TV and no cell phones.  Her basic needs were provided for and she was taught life lessons that included honesty, integrity, if you fall you pick yourself  up and a hard day’s work for a fair wage.  Mom was a college graduate, Dad was a laborer who worked his way into construction management and after the three kids were out of high school he started his own business. She recalls her parents having to deal with life challenges that were difficult for their time particularly her mother’s on going health problems. Despite their financial and physical challenges they always found the resilience to go forward no matter “what cards they were dealt” which was a phrase she heard her father used from time to time and later she would find resonated in her head when her own challenges both personally and professionally would arise and she has to learn to adapt. (Appendix 2)


Looking back on her childhood, success to her father was the ability to provide for his family the basics of food, clothing and shelter and her mother made sure the kids went to school and held them accountable for becoming education.

She believed that her strength to adapt, learn and grow was learned by watching how her parents handled their lives and the family.

She was brought up to be an independent thinker thanks to her parents who taught her that she could be and do anything if she worked hard enough for it. When JoAnne was 28 years old when she announced to her parents that she had been offered a job in California and was going to move.  California represented adventure and opportunity and she was ready to experience both. Her parents were sad to see her leave the familiar home turf but weren’t particularly surprised knowing she had the passion and resilience (Appendix 3) to make a go of it no matter what. Her father always told said “you can always come home.” While in California, JoAnne had several jobs before venturing into her own business endeavors with her parents cheerleading from the sidelines.

Professional Issue

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, JoAnne’s Mom had started a small retail store while she was in high school and JoAnne worked for her business during her senior year in high school through the DECA Club which promoted marketing and entrepreneurship through on the job experience. Dad started his own construction business shortly after she graduated high school.  Nothing really prepared her for entrepreneurship except the drive and passion for her business ideas the attitude to say “I can do this” along with having her parents as role models.  Her life as an entrepreneur started in 1994 when her employer changed her status from employee to independent contractor. This shift in employment status was the impetus into the next venture which was a sales and Distribution Company she formed with a female partner the latter part of 1994. The partnership was dissolved after two years and ended in a bitter breakup. There were two important lessons she learned from this partnership. First was how important it was to have a written partnership agreement which covers the dissolution of the partnership. This agreement helped with the emotional side of the business ending because it covered all the legal aspects of the dissolution which was pretty straight forward.  Second, going into business with a friend isn’t always a good idea and can result in the ending of a friendship which is what happened in this case. Having the support of her husband and remembering her parents encountering challenges in their business life again gave her the resilience to move forward with lessons learned.

In 1995, following the dissolution of the partnership, she joined into business with her husband who had been a supplier to the previous business.  Combining her previous business experience with her client base proved to be a successful combination.

In 2005, everything about JoAnne’s life changed. In May her Mother died following an extended illness and in June her husband fell from a ladder at their place of business and died from his injuries a week later.  Following her husband’s death JoAnne was challenged with grieving the loss of her life partner, as well as the loss of her business partner. She discovered she had more questions than answers. She wondered how she would survive.  Who would help her keep this business going?  How would she survive financially now that all the burden of this business was on her shoulders alone? And did she even want to keep this business going?


Personal issue


Facing the next chapter of her life was the most difficult.  She was a widow at age 49, with a 15 year old step daughter and business obligations that were mounting.  She was challenged with her new found isolation both on a personal and business level.  She was also challenged with facing her own fears of financial insecurity, keeping up her home and business while questioning her ability to make the best decisions.  She remembered her Dad telling her again “JoAnne, we just play the cards we’re dealt  and you will make the right decisions for the time being.” She heard those words before in her life and recalled how her parents always managed to adapt whenever challenged.  Through the grief and the lesson she learned about asking for help she did keep it all going until January of 2007 when she finally decided the challenges of hiring more help was not what she needed, rather that she needed to downsize both the business and her home.

She decided she didn’t want to be a victim of circumstances and needed a sense of control so she sold her house in six weeks and relocated from California where she had lived for twenty three years back to her home state of Minnesota where her family lived.  JoAnne realized she needed the support of the family that always been her strength to find some sense of normalcy and comfort in her life. She closed the manufacturing part of her business, sold some client contracts and took a portion of her business that she could do from another state and moved into a much smaller and manageable home. JoAnne encountered new challenges in moving a business and starting over in a new state, but she relied on past experience and personal strengths to rise and adapt to these new challenges.

In 2008 JoAnne founded an online grief support website called Heartache To Healing after seeing a need for heartfelt, first person connections for the bereaved. Additionally, the need to connect virtually through social media was becoming more prevalent and she established herself as an expert with thousands of followers on the website, Facebook and Twitter. She had become a passionate advocate for the bereaved by providing comfort, knowledge and hope for the future.  She wonders, was it her resilience that guided her to this endeavor and if so could she teach others to pick themselves up and not give up following a significant loss or other adversity in their life? (Appendix 4)