Tag Archives: loss

My Parting Words to 2012

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We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

This is my last post for 2012, a year that has been such a mixture of grief and gladness. So much has happened since February 10, “The Day My Earth Stood Still” and my family’s life took an abrupt and alarming turn. If I could go back in time I’d change everything, rewrite so much and devise a different and happier outcome. Of course, that’s not how our time here works, so instead we choose from the options we do have. Mine has been to look for what is good, what is positive, what is happy, and what is joyful. It’s taken some effort at times and I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy as pie every day.

I’ve spent the last week battling a pretty nasty cold, one that has wanted to linger despite my protests and medication. I haven’t been sick like this in a very long time. Someone asked if I thought it could be related to losing Brian and I’m beginning to suspect that it is. I was dreading the arrival of the first Christmas without him and the emptiness that came with it. Perhaps it was just a virus picked up during holiday shopping, or maybe it was just my body giving in to some feelings of grief. Who knows for sure?

Early this morning, around 2:45 actually, I woke up and thought, “Wow! I feel a lot better. …and I still have almost six hours until the alarm goes off!” Today I feel more like myself and I believe I have caught up on some much needed sleep. While I was under the weather I ran across this quote:

“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” ~George Eliot

I’ve wrestled with grief this year, resisted parts of it that were uncomfortable and tried to push away what I didn’t want to face sometimes, perhaps even to the point of physical illness. But there has definitely been a welcoming as well. I’m learning that it’s simply part of my life for now. It’s part of everyone’s, really, at one time or another. So why not make it a companion and share our thoughts with it? When grief enters our life, it’s here to stay for a while, so we might as well be welcoming.

As this year draws to a close, I want to thank each and every one of you who has walked alongside me in 2012 as I have travelled this rocky path. It’s been nothing less than a joy to feel the compassion and encouragement from each of you, to welcome new friends and draw closer to those I’ve known for a long time. It’s time to say goodbye to 2012. I recently read about a burning ritual done by a fellow “griever” and I love the idea of tangibly saying goodbye to a 365-day journey around the sun and all its ups and downs. I plan to do that on December 31, 2013. I may even set fire to a few mementos of 2012 tomorrow… we’ll see. I hope you’ll look back over 2012 and let go of what was sad or hurtful, what made you upset, and what you’d rather forget. I hope you’ll also leave behind some of what was grand and left you feeling elated! Let that be what you see when you look back at 2012. Prepare yourself for what is waiting ahead in a brand new year. Get ready to open a new book, one of blank pages to fill any way you like. I’ll see you there!

Parting with the Past = Joy 

A Difficult Path

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Burning Candle by SOMMAI

This is not what I planned to write today, and there are those who will be far more eloquent and speak more comforting words about what has happened than I can ever hope to say. I can’t even pretend that I can fully understand what families are facing right now.

I was lucky, I guess you can say. Having time to prepare yourself for death and loss can be a blessing. No, my days were not pretty and knowing the end was coming was heartbreaking. But I had time to prepare my mind and my heart for things to come. I knew when some of my last conversations would take place as I let go day by day, piece by piece. Those who lost their children and loved ones and friends yesterday did not. What started out as an ordinary day ended in a tragic nightmare. That is unimaginable to me.

To those who feel the anguish of loss now, I can offer my words and my heartfelt feelings of sorrow… and hope.

If I could speak to the families who are grieving right now, I’d tell them to feel whatever they feel without apology. I would tell them that I do understand that life will never feel the same again. I would let them know that sleepless nights and what feels like days of endless tears are ahead. They are now on a long road that will feel lonely and overwhelming sometimes.

I would also tell them that the fog will feel dense and heavy, so thick they can hardly breathe. But slowly… oh, so slowly… it will lift. It will start to clear, just a little at a time, and they will see that life will move forward. I know that forward is not what they want. Not at all. I understand that all they want to do is rewind, to go back and make all of this stop. Life is very unfair and there is no explanation that will feel right, no reason that will make any sense. As the fog lifts, though, I do know what is possible. They can take the littlest moments, the tiniest memories, and create monuments of happiness and joy to honor the ones who have been taken. They will turn the dark corners and see lights of hope, peace, and love begin to shimmer. They can carry on, never forgetting what has happened, but turning their deep sense of loss into new feelings of compassion.

My heart aches for anyone who has to go through the journey of grieving. I know there is no way around it or over it. There is only one difficult path straight through the middle of it. Along the way I hope they can find, as I have, treasures of peace and joy.

The Difficult Path Ahead = Joy

Releasing the Year

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This year I’m finding rituals to be quite comforting and helpful. They are an important part of the grief process and have allowed me to let go. Each day that I kept track of Brian’s medication, dosed out his pills, helped him bathe and dress, fed him, and loved him allowed me to let go of him knowing I’d given my best and my all. Watching his body be prepared and taken from this house enabled me to release him a little more, Feeling the weight of the box of ashes showed me that life is not permanent and we have to release our attachment to it when the time comes. Celebrating his life during his memorial service gave me the means to let him loose, so to speak, into the world of memories and moments that are shared by all who knew him.

Throughout each step in grieving, I’ve experienced glorious and excruciating emotions. I’ve fought some and invited others, but each one is essential in completing the process of surrendering a loved one and releasing our tight grip on them. That certainly doesn’t mean I have thrown away what we shared. No, quite the opposite. I’m learning to put our past together in its proper place, holding it dear.

Along the road to wholeness, I’m finding the significance of releasing the past to make way for the future. So I’m preparing during December to leave 2012 behind, not forgetting it, but letting it stand as a milestone of learning in this crazy and beautiful thing called life. My sister in-law (also my friend and kindred spirit) gifted me with a tangible way to move from this year to the one that is right around the corner. My project the other night was to create a page of gratitude. I broke out my markers and set to work, filling the blank white space with words. That turned into the Wordle you see above. Funny thing… once you start writing down all you’re grateful for, you think of new things to add. I keep revisiting that page and adding to it. Gratitude grows the more you acknowledge it.

My word for October was Promise. When November rolled around I turned to Renewal. In thinking ahead to December, the first word I thought of was Release, so it is fitting that I have been focusing on saying good-bye to what has been a devastating and delightful year. It has brought challenges and I’ve somehow managed to overcome each one. I’ll never forget 2012; it will no doubt stand out as a turning point, the place where I had to stand and look behind me and then press on to what was ahead with courage and curiosity. I’m finding a sweet satisfaction in reflection and release as I slowly and fondly bid farewell to the year. The next question in my Incredible Year Workbook is “Are you ready?” I can say with enthusiasm (and a few jitters): Yes! I will check that box with a brightly colored flourish!

Releasing the Past to Make Way for the Future = Joy

Music in the Night

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Tomorrow will mark six months that Brian has been gone, six months that have flown by. Life is precious and fleeting. There have been so many ups and downs over the last half-year. Wow… half of a year that he’s been gone from this earth. Healing from loss hurts. A lot. However, the deep sadness has made the happy moments twinkle more, I think. There are some days I have trouble opening my eyes and finding a reason to get out of bed. Sometimes I have trouble smiling and laughing. Then there are the moments the heaviness lifts a little and the joy rises up. Thankfully those happen more often than not. I hope I am learning, day by day, to appreciate the lightness in life.

I fill the silence at night, when I’m trying to find sleep, with music and this song comes on a lot. It’s about love, any real love you feel. It was born out of a time when the artist, Jason Mraz, wanted to give up on himself and life. Real love is unconditional and I don’t think it gives up, even when it may want to or feels like it needs to. It hangs on a little longer, often changing but never wavering, waiting for the darkness to pass. We need to have that kind of love for others, of course, but also for ourselves.

For anyone feeling some loneliness, sadness, or loss of any kind, I hope you have a listening ear nearby, an arm gently draped around you, and warm words filling your soul. And joy. Always joy.

Music = Joy

A Piece of My Heart… and My Joy

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I have several friends who experienced loss in the last couple of days. It makes me sad. I wish no one had to go through the darkness, the tears, the hurt, and the sadness that comes with loss. I also wish that I could just carry some of the hurt for others, especially those I know and love. Sadly, that would end up being a very heavy load for me, but it would also rob them of the gift that can come in the most trying of times.

In those months of facing the greatest loss I’ve ever known, I received the most wonderful gift. My heart opened and I became more understanding and more patient, more loving and more gentle. I know that sometimes we need to rant and rave and get mad about what’s happening to us. I know that sometimes we need to sit behind a closed door and cry until there are no more tears. I know that sometimes we need to laugh until our sides ache and we have new laugh lines on our faces. All the moments are okay and necessary in this wondrous, mysterious, completely crazy thing we call life. Finally, sometimes we need just a little something to keep us going for one more moment.

Today I keep it simple. I break off a little piece of the joy that I have and I give it to those friends who are in the middle of their hurting time. It’s just a small piece, but I give it freely. Take it and nurture it and let it grow. Look at what surrounds your loss, my friends, and see the memories. Reflect on the best moments, the brightest pictures in your mind, the warmest times in your heart. Hold them tightly along with the piece of joy I have given you and let them multiply.

Thinking of You = Joy