Grief Awareness: From One Broken Soul To Another

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Tomorrow is 3 years since my sister, Jessica Rae was suddenly taken from us by the cruel and indiscriminate clutches of cancer at the age of 33. Then 24 hours later, it  is a year since my grandfather passed. How delightfully poetic that his last gift to our exceedingly dysfunctional family, was that he waited to die as not to overwhelm us with double grief or overshadow that already painful day.  It was a definite gesture of love if ever there were one.

The beginning of the year is especially draining on me. I let those emotions flow where they will and then continue in my daily life. Not to say I don’t have other draining days of the year…because I do, several in fact. Nearly every month of the year is scattered with painful losses for me.  But, this time of year is absolutely the hardest.

Losing a loved one {I’m an expert in this…I’ve encountered more than my fair share of death} is a difficult and excruciating part of life. One that nobody wants to speak about lest they become the next victim of loss. Many have no idea how to handle a friend in mourning, let alone  are they aware that grief has no time constraints.  The mere idea that someone could suffer so much from their loved ones end of suffering is not only unfathomable to them it is difficult for them to give loving support to the person grieving.
   
 
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The pain that is commonly accompanied by thoughts of guilt is torturous. There is always questions…ones that can never be answered, not in a person’s lifetime anyway. Questions like… why did this have to happen to them, did I do everything I could to save them, could I have done more, why didn’t I spend more time with them, why…why… WHY???

As unfortunate as it is, there is/was nothing more or different that could alter what transpired. They had to go and we had to stay. This realization doesn’t remove the pain. Nothing completely removes the pain and nothing ever will.

You can choose how the pain affects you though. You can choose to be mindful or you can choose to let the pain consume you.  It’s painful, don’t deny yourself to feel that pain. But don’t let that pain take away from the joyful and beautiful moments happening all around you.

When you need to grieve, do it. Feel the pain from losing them, feel the joy that they gave you while alive… let the emotions come but most importantly let those emotions go. Don’t allow yourself to be swept away into the dark abyss of depression…because the painful truth is, their earthly ties have been undone because their physical job is over. But yours, my dears, is not.

Your work here is still needed. There is a job for you and only you can deliver  it. I know that offers you no comfort…as I sit here teary-eyed over my own losses…I know exactly how little my words soothe that throbbing ache in the pit of your stomach or mends even a fraction of your now irreparably damaged heart. I really truly get it.

Just know that there is no time constraint for grieving. And forgive those who don’t know any better than to say offensive words under the guise of compassion. They know not what they do because they have never been in your shoes.     
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Don’t suffer alone in silence. Feel free to add me on Facebook . Also  “like” the page,  National Grief Awareness Day where you will find others who know how to listen and how to be a friend.  Life is too short to spend it alone in pain. Love, understanding, and compassion can heal us all.     

All photos courtesy of National Grief Awareness Day’s Facebook page. Link provided above. Please support their page. Thank you.     

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The ‘Moment’ Between Life And Death

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A Friday ritual. A single photo — no words — capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to others by Sarah-Jane, of Almost There.

I was asked to participate in this by Anna Sides, of The Other Side of Anna and the other great blogging members of the Facebook group Blogplicity.

If you find yourself touched by a moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Copyright- InJensMind

The First Year Deathaversary

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It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since the passing of my younger sister, Jessica. A whole year! Time flies by when you are living, I guess.

It’s been a long and painful year, full of ups and downs. It’s also been a very enlightening and freeing year. Every day I wake up and give thanks to the Universe for helping me break free of so many unhealthy and one-sided friendships. Friendships I had clung to because I am just that kind of caring and loving friend. Friendships that I believed would be forever. I also give thanks, love, kisses and hugs daily to my children, husband, and pets. For without them I wouldn’t be able to function, even a fraction of what I do now. They are the glue that holds me together.

I have spent several of the last few weeks trying to prepare myself for this day. Some people may find it unhealthy to place so much emphasis on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing. I don’t. I find it perfectly normal to get your emotions, thoughts, and memories in order before the day hits. Then again, I’ve seen more death in my lifetime then most and at a younger age. This is why some of the things people say just knock me out cold. I mean do these people even know what it is to lose a sister? We’re not talking about comparison here. We’re not talking about who has suffered more. We’re talking about how someone can tell another person how to deal with something that they’ve never been through! It’s like saying that the pain of giving birth is nothing compared to menstrual cramps, yet you’ve never given birth. That’s like me telling someone who lost their mom to “get over it, it happened while she gave birth to you.” First of all, I’d never say that. One because I am just a caring, sympathetic person and that comment is one only an asshole would utter. Secondly, I’ve never lost a parent yet, knock on wood. So obviously I have never been close to that same situation. Lastly, just because you might not have known your mother doesn’t mean you have no connection to her. You have a connection that nobody else has with her. You have the connection of coming to life and growing inside her and you also have the guilt. Nobody wants to blame anyone but, Lord knows many a child has been shunned and abused by their father or family for “killing” their mother. It’s asinine and it sucks and well… people can just be irresponsible loudmouth jerks.

I don’t just mourn one day a year. I mourn throughout the year. A happy memory from my childhood could start out so wonderful and the more my mind remembers the bond we once shared the more painful it becomes… Then walks in the guilt, shame, regret, and the tears. Let’s not forget the tears that strike at any given moment. And usually, when this happens I become distant, as I try to remove the horrific pain from my soul. I revert to that scared little child looking for a place to hide from the monsters that were enclosing upon me. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s automatic, instantaneous, habitual, and it’s how I grew up without being more screwed up then I already am.

If you’ve never lost someone you know, count yourself lucky because it never is easy and won’t get any easier as you age either. It’s a painful thing to experience and even though you try and tell yourself that they are in a better place with no more pain, you can’t help but to question why you are left to carry the painful burden. Why do some people get out and some of us have to stay and experience more than our fair share of suffering? Outliving those you love has to be one of the most stressful things you could ever experience.

It reminds me of my grandma who has outlived all of her siblings. (She is the oldest of 4.) How excruciating it must be to have none of them left. To have no parents left. To only have your grown children, and grown grandchildren (1 of the 4 gone a year now), and great-grandchildren left. But, she doesn’t have all of them with her. All she has at this very moment is my mom. The rest of us are too far away and some of the great-grandkids don’t even know of her and may never know her. That is some very sad sad shit if you ask me. I know she puts on a brave face but, just as I know how much it hurts me, I know it hurts her a lot too. Death sucks bigtime!

So the next time a person decides to tell another person who they should care for, who they should mourn for, how long they should mourn, etc… Bite your damn tongue!

As the Cherokee Proverb goes:

“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this because they think it’s easy to just put on someone’s shoes and that’s that. So let me give you one more, so you really grasp what it is I am saying to you…

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960

We all need time to handle our unresolved business. And nothing is more unresolved then a loved one who dies suddenly. Nothing can be resolved when you don’t get to say good-bye. There is no peace of mind when it comes to all the questions that will never be answered. There is no possible way to “just let it go and move on” when no one is held accountable.

If you want to help someone who is hurting, mourning, grieving, dying in mind, soul, and heart… send them your love. Send them your sympathy. Let them know that it even though she wasn’t your sister you hurt because you see your friend hurting. Check up on her and let her know she isn’t alone. That’s all you can do.

And trust me when I say, anything else that you might think is helpful but comes off asinine will be met with rudeness and anger. Do you want your friend to curse at you for being a jerk? No, you don’t! Keep in mind this little bit of information… Everyone dies eventually and there will come a time when death will strike in your home. Don’t be left alone without comfort from your friends because you thought they were taking too long to heal over their loss. You will find out soon enough that healing on the inside always takes longer than healing on the outside.

As for this day, well… it had its ups and downs. (Look for my favorite moment from today on Friday.) I cried a lot here and there. Wiped my tears, loved on my children, drank some wine, listened to The Beatles and John Lennon, burned meditation candles, stared at Buddha while the candles flickered, laughed a bit, cried some more, loved on all my friends who came to my side, and well… I got through the first year deathaversary of my sister, Jessica Rae.

And to my mom, grandma, grandpa, and brother…I love you more than there are stars in the heavens. Even if I don’t believe in a heaven per se… I believe that Jess is among the stars waiting for us. Right now all we can do is be the best people we can be while we are here. Forgive those who’ve wronged us… that hate is only hurting us, we don’t need more hurt. Love those who are still here… they need our love and we need theirs. “Love is the answer.”

May you all be safe, sound, and find the strength to be where I am at!

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