Life is unpredictable. Sometimes it takes us through twists and turns we feel unprepared to face: We get a diagnosis; a child struggles in a way never expected; our spouse betrays us. Grief weaves us through a wide range of emotions including sadness, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. Healing from the hardships of life is a continual process, one that never runs in a straight line but rather like a fun house at a carnival after a nauseating meal. You desperately want out, but the only way out is through it.

Jay and Katherine Wolf recently shared their journey of a drastic life derailment and how a paradigm shift saved their lives. Newly married, Katherine had hopes of being a model while husband Jay was in law school. The big dreams of this young couple were coming true, including a shared love for their sweet six month old son. Life seemed to be going just as they had hoped and planned it would, until one day when Jay found his wife on the floor of their home. She was taken to UCLA hospital; they had no idea what lay ahead. That day, Katherine nearly died. Medical doctors warned Jay that her chances of surviving were slim after suffering a massive brain stem stroke at the age of 26. Only by a miracle, Katherine survived and eventually came out of her two-month coma.

As I sat in the audience of a crowded auditorium, listening to her harrowing story, I could hear a deep peace beneath her words. Katherine shared that once she awoke, she could tell that time had passed by the size of her sweet baby’s thighs. They were much bigger now. She mentally tried to reach out to hold her young child but her brain did not communicate with her arms. She was paralyzed. She could no longer hold her child, and devastation ached in every part of her body. My own maternal heart ached for her as I listened.

Now, ten years later, the Wolfs share their story of hope in their book – a story of life from death – one with deeper meaning, presence, and identity, beyond anything they could have imagined prior to the stroke. Katherine still lives with many disabilities and has had to fight to regain basic functions. Their story is a must-read for anyone struggling to see beyond loss and life gone awry. It is a story that presents an alternative to unexpected derailment: Hopeful transformation. When they thought they had lost everything, the Wolfs say they actually found what they were missing all along.

In their book, Hope Heals, Katherine and Jay share a redemptive story in a most authentic way. It is not just a story of a couple who managed to find the “silver-lining” in crisis. In other words, it is more than an attempt to bring shallow, short-lived hope to dark places; instead, it is an honest and true story about how deep, abiding restoration happens outside the lines of what we might initially imagine life looking like.

Go to for more about this amazing couple and their story of hope.

Written by Terra A. Mattson, LMFT, LPC
Living Wholehearted Co-founder and Clinical Director