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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Champagne For Everyone! Jen’s Writing Is A Year Old

Cheers! Sláinte! Prost! Prosit! ¡Salud! Santé! Saúde

It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since I began writing on a blog. My life, my thoughts, my fears out there…in the open for all to see.

Those of you who had followed me from Blogspot to WordPress might know that For Jens Sake has only been up for 3 months. Raps and Poems and Books, Oh My was my first and the poems I wrote on that blog (which can be found here) is what has me celebrating my 1st year blogoversary. Woohoo!

I decided to celebrate this festive occasion by taking all of you through my year; through every up and down, win and lose, tears and smiles. What an exciting year it has been, not a single moment of it has been dull. Some of you may already know that I started out writing with poetry. It was all poetry all the time, like the Cartoon Network, only… poetic.

A couple of months went by and I decided I wanted to try writing as a career. Unfortunately, poets aren’t in high demand right now in any field. That’s a shame really because I think that music (of any genre) could be several times greater if the song writers took it back to good ol honest poetic lyrics and flow. Someone get Diddy on the phone I have an idea for a new reality show…Making the Poet!

Me, Myself and I, was born because I needed a résumé of written articles. It kind of felt like high school all over again, being forced into something, that is. But, what does one write about when they want to become a writer? News…ick, no thanks. It’s depressing and causes people to run out, buy guns and ammo and board themselves up inside their homes while they drink beer and wait for the zombie apocalypse to happen. News was most definitely not me.

Then I thought…celebrity gossip. Ah, the old let’s talk about other people’s business (which clearly has nothing to do with us) and never once find out if what we are writing is true or not. Nope… gossip definitely was not me either. What’s left? Opinionated ramblings? Ding ding ding…we have a winner. Hey…I ramble and I am opinionated. Oh my God, it’s as if that was made just for me.

I worked hard daily, on both blogs. I would take turns… poetry one day, opinions the next. Back and forth, establishing a following of loyal readers and 0 comments. Oh yea, I was getting famous. LOL But, you know, it didn’t matter because I was saying what I wanted to say and that was good enough for me.

I finally decided to look for poetry contests and joined a few sites. Out of all of them, Allpoetry was the best. I started making a few friends there by joining groups. I entered a few contests, won a few trophies, and then got seriously fed up with the site. Why? Because newcomers were outsiders. The site was one huge clique after another and they were adamant about their poetry being better than anything “a noob” could write. But, that is a post for another time.

So back I went and focused completely on my two blogs. I learned how to autoshare my posts on other networks; thank you Networked Blogs. Doing that left more time for me to write, instead of running to a bunch of sites and posting links. The creator of that app is my idol.

I signed up with Odesk and began building my official résumé. I have not had a résumé in my entire life, so making one was most definitely exciting. It was also very frustrating, trying to remember dates and addresses and names of companies from over 18 years ago. Some of them are long gone, so even if I said I worked there and I did, where’s the proof…

Before I knew it 5 months had passed and it was already February. My heart jumped out of my chest as I listened to a voicemail I had received. I called my mom and the world went silent… “Your sister is in the hospital with Stage 4 Breast Cancer.” Tears streamed down my eyes… as they are doing now because it still hurts. My baby sister lying in a hospital bed… liquid in her lungs and around her heart…lesions on her liver… cancer. CUCK FANCER!!!I called her every day. A lot of people get cancer and they have plenty of time for their families to come to grips with it. I was worried out of my mind even though I knew from experience; it wasn’t over until it’s over.

R.I.P. Baby Sister

3 days later I get a call late in the evening. My baby sister had died while the doctor was draining liquid from around her heart for the third time in 6 days. She laid in that bed 6 days, sick. And I had 2 days to tell her everything she should know before she is gone out of my life forever and I said… nothing. Absolutely, the worst part of this entire year were those 3 days.

I didn’t write for weeks, I tried and tried and tried to put up something, anything. All I wanted to do was curse God, curse the world and lay in a ball in my bed and cry until my eyes dried up forever. And that is exactly what I did! When I finally sat down again and wrote, it was all about Jess and pain. At that moment, I gave up any hopes or dreams I had of being a writer. I just had to let the feelings out and I didn’t care if anyone read it or understood. I didn’t care if anyone agreed with me. I no longer needed anyone in my life except my two children, who watched me struggle to hide my tears and depressed bloodshot eyes. I died with Jess that day!!! (R.I.P. May 13, 1977- February 8, 2011)

Then something unexpected happened… I met someone (Sweepy Jean) who added me to a group that led me to fellow bloggers/writers/poets, which in turn led me to more and more blogging groups. Finally, I could connect with people who were somewhat like me. I had also applied to be a writer for a website. Imagine my surprise when I got an email welcoming me to the site as a writer. Wow, little ol me, still choking on the pain and tears from my sister’s death was now a writer for Technorati. So, I wrote for them. I wrote 4 articles in March and two of them were about Breast Cancer and my sister. If I were to agonize over losing Jess than the world could too.

A few months later, I was applying to become a contributor for Yahoo Associated Content and what do you know…I was accepted there as well. As my tears had flown heavy over my loss they had also motivated me to find the perfect place to become published. I am waiting on the final approval of my third article on Yahoo as I write this.

As all of this was happening; I evolved. I made new friends, lost old ones, and gained a new respect and love for who I am. I made the big switch from Blogspot to WordPress in June, deleting the old blogs and continuing to write poetry and my opinions on the new one, and most of all… I continued to be seen throughout the world-wide web for my writing. Then came offers to guest post; truly a great honor for me.

Out of nowhere, I wrote the poem that put me on the fast track to the stars…I Have Lived Life. It has been published on Yahoo, won the month of August poetry contest, is semi-finalist in an international poetry contest, is scheduled to be published in a poetry book in November of this year. All of a sudden, I realized that I had done exactly what I set out to do…touch someone’s life with meaningful and honest words. I had already arrived at the place I aimed to be.

Much to my surprise, a day came when I received an email that Google was interested in interviewing me. Unfortunately, I had to turn it down. Not because I wouldn’t love that opportunity but, my laptop had died and along with it my Skype and webcam. Besides, I had no cover letter even written yet, which is now on my to-do list. I don’t fret over it because I don’t see it as a missed opportunity but, as the beginning of many more to come.

The next goal was to continue to climb and become a better person and a better writer, so I applied to the St. Louis Writers Guild (SLWG). Hello, my name is Jen and I am a member of the SLWG. Woohoo…

In closing: I have been setting aside the negativity, allowing myself to grow and thrive, and have started to learn that; the people who should be at your side during your finest moments…well, they won’t be. But, it’s ok because as the seasons change, so do people. I have changed and that probably has scared many of the people I use to know or rather, who use to know me.

Losing someone close to you changes you; for better or for worse but, it does change you. I will mourn my sister’s death until I am ready to let her go but, I will also keep moving forward in my writing. I feel her hands guiding mine to the keyboard as she whispers into my head… “You were meant to tell the world. This is your calling,it’s what you were born to do. Take ahold of it with both hands and lead it where it should go. If you write it, they will read. If you speak it, they will listen. If you live it, they will follow!”

And when my final day on this planet arrives; I won’t be wishing for the ones that had left, to be at my side. I will be content, knowing that the ones who were always meant to be there will be with me from the beginning until that last gasp of air has escaped my lungs.

I have lived life and this past year was only the beginning…

Handwriting is not my forte anymore and on a cake it's even worse. LOL

I Have Lived Life

I have shed blood, sweat,immeasurable tears
Stared bluntly in the face of my greatest fears

I have had good thoughts and some insane
Some brought me great pleasure, some brought me great pain

I have been free and trapped in a cage
Been bursting with love and insufferable rage

I have known death and I have known birth
Seen Heaven and Hell in my life on this Earth

I have been lost and also been found
Been lifted up high and kicked down to the ground

I have turned hate to love and love into hate
Done magnificent things, a few not-so great

I have several friends, enemies too
Some of them old and some of them new

I have spoken with ink, lips and heart
Written and read inspirational art

I have lived life as well as I could
Some parts might have been bad but, most parts were good

I will rise up each time that I fall
For life is worth living so I give it my all

Sunday’s Question Segment

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This is the second installment of Sunday’s Question Segment, where you, the reader, write in and ask a question that you would like answered.

I am not a professional psychiatrist or a licensed doctor, these are just my sole opinions. The whole reasoning for this segment is for you to get a question answered, to build a great conversation, and for me to share a bit more of myself… my thoughts, feelings and opinions. I hope you enjoy these magnificent questions and hopefully I can answer them the way they truly deserve to be answered… with honesty, feeling, and insight.

We will continue this segment every week, so please feel free to send in questions in any number of ways that were listed in last week’s post. By all means, the answers in any of these question segments are not intended to offend anyone.

This week we have three questions so let’s get started. Our first post comes from Bornstoryteller and it is one hell of a question. Here’s hoping I don’t screw it up.

Why are we living in a world where we can’t pay attention to what is in front of us? How did we get here?
                                             -Bornstoryteller

Dear Bornstoryteller,
I think the reason we cannot pay attention to what’s in front of us has to do with short attention spans from technology. When I was a child we watched movies about the future. In these movies, the robots would take over humanity.

I think in some weird way that is what has happened. When you look around you today, you can see how technology has deteriorated what once was; manners, common sense, the ability to think and act on one’s own behalf, and the distortion of the English language.
Don’t get me wrong, technology has been very helpful to humanity but, it has also created a “need” for instant gratification and entitlement. I say “need” when it’s actually a want because of course we think we “need” it therefore, we keep upgrading everything in our lives to bigger, better, faster things.

Patience is becoming as extinct as a home phone. Nobody wants to wait around for something to happen, it needs to happen now or we get bored and just let it go or we don’t even see it in the first place. We have become a society that believes we are entitled to anything and everything that we want when we want it.
For example, not being able to buy groceries for a couple of weeks but, can afford an unlimited data plan on a new I-phone because “I am entitled to nice things.” This type of instant gratification has also made us impatient and reckless in our relationships and in raising children. Instead of working out indifference, lowering our high standards, or compromising in our relationships we go into all of them with the notion we can replace them or divorce them with no real consequences. In other words, we treat fellow human beings as we do material possessions.

I don’t see this getting any better as our children (who walk around with the newest technology by the age of 10) are under the same impression that technology will solve all humanities issues.
There is also a rise in ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in the world and this I don’t believe comes completely from technology, although God only knows what kind of affects the constant radio waves from cell phones and laptops are doing to our bodies that we are passing on to our children. But, this does in part have to do with what I said about wanting bigger and better things.

And of course, since our kids are tech junkies they don’t get as much of that clean, fresh air and sunshine that we did as children. We have tainted our food and water supplies. It’s nothing new but, our children’s DNA seems to be more polluted than ours is. I think this has to do with their lower abilities to fight off infections, more government mandated vaccinations and the greater accessibility to processed food.
So in my opinion, since we are so “connected” we lose focus on the things right in front of us that use to be as plain as the nose on our faces.
-InJensMind

Our next question comes from Martha.

What can help you heal the hurt, my dear?
-Martha Orlando

Before I answer this question I want to give a little insight to it. Martha asked this after reading my post about my sister’s sudden death from Cancer, ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’

Dear Martha,
I have dealt with death of many close family members since I was a young girl. I don’t know if “dealt” is the proper word because when I think of the word dealt, I think of coming to terms with it by yourself. I don’t feel like I came to terms with any of the deaths on my own. When someone we know and love dies, we are forced to deal with it because there is no way to bring them back and life goes on whether we want it to or not.

Maybe this is the reason I haven’t healed fully from any of the losses in my life. People say, “time heals.” Time heals because after a while of living without someone, we eventually push them out of the front of our minds. Technically, life pushes them out of the front of our minds not necessarily us. Day after day, happy and not-so happy things happen that take the place of those initial thoughts of that person we lost. I don’t think there is a way to ever heal fully from the loss of a loved one; it remains in us like a scar from surgery does.

There will always be a reminder that they were once present in our lives. When someone loses a close friend or loved one we say the best thing to do is hold on to the happy memories of them. How can we ever fully heal if we cling to their memory? We can’t, because we remember them.

So, I suppose in time I can heal because I will not focus so much on her being gone but, I will never fully heal from losing my sister.
-InJensMind

Our final question this week comes from Jan.

I have been in an unintended competition with my sister for years, all of our lives really. She is 6 years my senior, my favorite saying of us is that if we hadn’t been born sisters we would have never met. We are completely different. She lives a life of I can’t(s), I live with tell me I can’t I will show you I can. “I can’t” are her two favorite words. Anyway, when something serious happens, such as I had a crisis in my life, as a result had my blood pressure checked ended up on 4 different meds for it. The doctor was astounded that I hadn’t stroked out. 2 weeks later my sister calls and says, “Um, I don’t mean to steal your thunder, but my blood pressure was higher than yours.” Seriously? Does she truly think I Want to be ill? This is the kind of competitiveness I mean. What can I do? Continue to ignore her or heaven forbid confront her. I don’t feel confrontation would work either because she has no idea of what she is doing, and would deny, deny, deny, also how she lives.
-Thanks, Jan

Dear Jan,
A little bit of competition in life is not a bad thing, in fact it can make us push ourselves to do better than what we thought we could do. Sibling rivalry is nothing new, it’s been around forever. It’s ok to be different, we should be different from others or how boring life would be if we were all the same. Being of the same bloodline does not mean we will be alike. Those aspects of your relationship with your sister are perfectly normal.

Now let me address this issue about being ill. I am sorry to hear of your illness and hope that you get better soon. As far as your sister’s reaction, some people believe that they are the center of everything and should always be treated as such. Sickness should never be a competition, EVER! I find it disconcerting that your own sister would try to make that a competition. What’s the prize when you win in this type of competition? Death… I don’t know about you but, I wouldn’t want to brag about winning that prize.

I don’t want to say ignore it but, I also don’t believe you should confront her. People get set in their ways; all a confrontation does is add more stress for the person who truly cares more, in this case that would be you. More stress equals more illness which is not what you need in your life. I am a firm believer in just accepting people for who and what they are. Nothing you say is going to make her realize what she is doing is in bad taste. I have firsthand knowledge in this and I handled it this way.

When the person called, I let them do the talking, complaining, and /or pity-party conversation. I would occasionally try to throw in an “uh-huh, ok, or wow that’s something isn’t it.” Then from there I would change the subject and if they were hell-bent on staying on their “poor me” topic, well then it was time for me to go.

It’s not that you have to give into their apprehensive behavior and lack of common courtesy it’s just there are benefits of doing this. As a caring and loving person the biggest issue I have found is… what if my loved one passed away and I didn’t do all I could to be understanding.

I can’t begin to tell you why your sister acts the way she does. I can tell you though, that if you cut her off completely it would only bring a moments worth of relief. Eventually, your conscience will eat away at you because you turned your back on someone who is obviously in great need of help.

The best thing you can do to help her is to listen and cut it short if she doesn’t want to move on to something more positive or be a caring, loving sister in return. Not everyone realizes they are being selfish when they act the way your sister has. But, seeing as she purposely said to you, “ I don’t mean to steal your thunder” indicates that not only does she know she is doing it but, that she thinks that being ill is a game. When people do that it makes me wonder are they even sick or are they playing games.

My advice to you is… to do what you feel is right. If you don’t feel like dealing with her nonsense then ignore the phone call until you feel you are strong enough to speak to her. It doesn’t matter if you ignore her or confront her she is going to keep doing this because it makes her “feel” better. Good people know that everyone matters and we must do our best to be tolerant and understanding, even if the person they are dealing with is a conceited jerk who will never be a nice person. If she truly is ill or more ill than you are and she doesn’t take it seriously than it is on her.

Don’t let anyone; including your family make you feel bad for them, especially when they aren’t taking their own life seriously. Anyone who loves you would never force you into feeling guilty for them. You don’t need her to confirm you in any way, just treat her as you would an acquaintance and in the end all things work themselves out. In the meantime, you can feel good knowing that you tried and were the best tolerant and forgiving person that you could be. Good luck to you!
-InJensMind

“Hard times build determination and inner strength. Through them we can also come to appreciate the uselessness of anger. Instead of getting angry nurture a deep caring and respect for troublemakers because by creating such trying circumstances they provide us with invaluable opportunities to practice tolerance and patience.”
By Dalai Lama XIV

No Pictures Please

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I hate having my picture taken…hate hate HATE it!!! I am always behind the camera, snapping away at everyone I know. But, here I am looking at all these pictures; some in boxes, some in computer files, some in albums and some on Facebook.

Where the Hell are my family portraits? Where are the goofy pictures of me and my siblings as adults? Why do I not have one single picture of my grandmother and me? In fact where is the mother/daughter pictures of my mom and me or my daughter and me? Where is the picture of me standing on a chair so my son and I can be the same height? Where are the happy couple pictures of my husband and I???

 

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I’m scared to be photographed! I’m Native American Indian…pictures will steal my soul, I will never be able to reincarnate, the light bulb demon that lives in the flash will break free and take over the planet… I cannot be responsible for that.

 

 

Ok, that’s not the real reason but, it might as well be because my reasoning is as silly as that is. My ridiculous ass never thought to take pictures of my sister when I was in Vegas in 2007 and now all I have of her is childhood photos, her second wedding pictures that she gave me years ago and pictures of her with other people who are not me!! *Sigh*

Me 1993

Every time I see a camera, I scream like I’m 2 and hide…When the Hell did I start doing that? I was never frightened to put on a stupid face and be right smack dab in the middle of the picture. I was always doing something retarded looking with a huge smile on my face. When did I become the scary old hunchbacked recluse in the haunted house on the corner???

Oh, yes I remember… I got married, got fat and lost my smile. Yep, all excellent reasons to stay far away from a camera that will only amplify the horror of not being a happy person. It takes me 20 pictures before I find one that is worthy of Facebook let alone to be cherished forever by my family.

My husband has always been a busy man, so he is in very few pictures; yet he always has a huge smile and goofy face when there is a camera thrust upon him. Which just confirms that men are big kids and don’t stress half as much as we women do. But, I digress because this isn’t a slam men post it’s a Jenni, you dumbass post!!! *Facepalm*

The last family picture we had taken was when our daughter was born, she’s 15 now. My son and daughter have a picture together he was sleeping; a few years ago I took them to a place and got a free picture of the two of them. A few years ago, HA more like over 5 years ago. When they were in public school I always paid for picture packages. I take loads of pictures of my kids, those memories are priceless.

But, what if I died… what if I was in a coma… what if… My kids won’t have photos of their mom; just because I was too terrified to have any permanent reminder that showed my internal sadness or anger. There are no goofy smiles or a sparkle in my eye pictures for my kids to cherish.

 

 

Jess & I circa 92-93

Just like I have no pictures of my sister and me since we were teens in High School. How depressing is that?

 

 

I don’t even own a camera; with cellphones coming equipped with them, I figured why spend money on something I don’t need… just shoot me now!!!

I am going to buy my first digital camera in the next week or two and I will give it to my daughter. She wants to try photography anyway. Looks like I am going to have to suffer and just let unflattering pictures of me be flaunted. I am already shaking at the thought but, I can’t allow my family to feel the guilt I do, when an unexpected death happens and you look at photo albums then realize all the memories in your aging brain never got saved.

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