The Journey of Grief

The journey of grief

Love is essential to the human condition, but to give and receive love also means to be to open to the inevitability of loss and grief. In my work I encounter families who are coping with the death of a loved one, and I have the privilege to help tell the stories and celebrate the lives of those who have passed.

This article is the first of a series, written with the hope that the contents may help in some way to guide and comfort those who find themselves on their own journey of grief. Earl Grollman wrote, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

The grieving process is a complex one, however. No two people experience it the same way, or on the same schedule. It is okay to cry, it is okay to rage, and it is okay to feel temporarily numb. It is healing to allow yourself to feel and express whatever complex emotions you encounter. Hiding from your feelings, however, can have a negative impact on your well-being.

Healing can be found at times by being alone, and at times by being with other people. It important to find companions that are “safe,” who will provide support and a listening ear as you process your changing emotions.

Grief can also occur in waves, with levels that fluctuate over time. There will be moments when it comes flooding back with fresh intensity. Tracy, a mother who lost a teenage daughter, suggests than when those waves hit you just “ride them out” until it passes.

Over time it will become easier to cope with your grief, but it will remain, just as your love for the departed will remain. Cassandra Clare wrote in Clockwork Prince, “They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.” Continue reading

Not Alone

image

“All my friends are dead!” Two days ago a dear family friend stood at the coffin of my grandmother and those heartbreakingly honest words escaped her lips. My spirit ached for her as I watched tears fall down those beautiful cheeks. She is in her nineties and is one of the sweetest, most beloved individuals you would ever meet. Yet aside from her devoted son, who stood at her side, she feels alone.

Due to her limited mobility and the passage of time she feels that life has continued at its customary pace but cast her aside. She can no longer be a part of the activities that used to give her joy and community. Her community is also dwindling because over the decades she has watched as, one by one, her friends left this earth.

“It’s so special that you could be here today,” I said.

“I’m not special,” she replied. I hugged her as tightly as I could to show her differently. I made sure I hugged her every chance I had for the next two days.

I was also reminded that I needed to go seek her out and give her more hugs more often.

Today I encourage you to make sure that no one you love feels left behind. Go give them hugs, a LOT of hugs, every chance you get. Don’t let them be alone. They are special. Make sure you BOTH remember that.

Like this post? Don’t forget to “Follow” Seriously Not Boring or subscribe to email updates. You can check out our Seriously Not Boring Facebook page and give us a “Like” there too, or follow @SrslyNotBoring on Twitter. Thanks for stopping by! 

Life Continues

Yesterday I lost an older, beloved family member who had been ill for some time. Even though I said my goodbyes to her a long time ago I still found the reality of the loss quite difficult. This morning it finally hit me, and I found myself immobilized in the car at my children’s school, finally letting the tears flow.

Then I came home and viewed this with fresh eyes and my spirit was renewed.

image

There is something inspiring about seeing new life emerge out of the earth every spring. It is also deeply satisfying when it is life that you placed into the soil with your own hands. The amazing part is that, after my initial efforts, this growth continues on year after year without needing my help. Life wins.

image

This reflection left me encouraged that all our efforts for good will continue to bloom and grow and add beauty to this world, even after we are gone.

image

Not only that, but it can spread. All the plants and flowers in these pictures are from the garden of a friend (and there are many more not pictured). Many years ago she graciously shared with me from the abundance of growth in her life, and every spring I smile and think of her.

Now my own garden overflows and these plants are ready to be divided and shared. I can continue to pass on her gift to others.

So today as I gaze upon this growth I will remember… though the body of my loved one has stilled, what they contributed to this world will remain. The lessons she taught me and the kindness she showed to others will continue to beat fruit.

Beauty, kindness and memories continue on. Life wins.

Like this post? Don’t forget to “Follow” Seriously Not Boring or subscribe to email updates. You can check out our Seriously Not Boring Facebook page and give us a “Like” there too, or follow @SrslyNotBoring on Twitter. Thanks for stopping by! 

For Kaitlyn- Down Syndrome Awareness

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day (in March) and Down Syndrome Awareness Month (in October) I would like you to meet my friend Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn2

Now that you have met her, I wish she could meet you. I mean that with all my heart, your life would be better for it. Just one of the countless reasons why it is so agonizing that she was taken from us too soon.

Kaitlyn passed away in December, 2013 after a brief battle with illness. Her loved ones were stunned with grief, and it sent a shockwave through the local special-needs community. It seemed inconceivable that her light was snuffed out; so young, so bright.

Today is the first World Down Syndrome Day that her family will be celebrating without Kaitlyn. It is a bittersweet observance. They mourn the loss of their sweet girl, but celebrate her life, her legacy, and the many lessons she taught all of us. We are richer for having met her, and poorer for having lost her.

Kaitlyn lived enthusiastically & loved unconditionally. Among her favorite things was the color pink, Disney movies, music, dancing, and her family. She showed those around her that true beauty lies in being, as her mother so eloquently put it, “Perfectly imperfect.”

Her memorial page on Facebook is filled with memories, pictures, and this adorable video. How can you watch such a sweet girl and see her as any less than perfect?

Kaitlyn’s brief time on this Earth urges us to redefine the world’s standards of value and perfection to embrace a life well lived-and well-loved. She was truly beautiful, and she is truly missed. So today, on World Down Syndrome Day, I thought you should meet her. Kaitlyn may no longer be with us, but her light continues to shine. 

image

Update: Kaitlyn’s mother, Tracy, has this to say~

On World Down Syndrome Day, I remember……
15 years 4 months and 3 days ago, I gave birth to one of the greatest gifts of my life. November 18, 1998, weighing in at 7lbs 4 1/2 oz, & 18″ long. We found out at 6 months pregnant that our baby girl would have Down Syndrome. The words leaving the Dr’s mouth that evening, made me go deaf temporarily. We were scared, and the battle for faith commenced. For 3 more months we waited, we fought off the perinatologists best efforts to convince us she should not be here. Hydrocephalus they said, major heart defect they said, vegetable that would never leave the hospital they said, think about the quality of life they said, you’re young and can have another baby they said. Another baby??? But THIS was our baby…she had grown inside of me, I had felt her every move. I watched the screen as she’d move and bring her hands to her face. She was mine, right from the beginning, and as mothers aren’t we to protect our young? Isn’t that our purpose as mom’s? You would never dream of having a baby and the Dr saying, “by the way this ones defective we’re just going to end it’s life” The moment came, and it was clear…put our faith in God and he will take care of it. 

Kaitlyn Dee Laramore was born. Her first cry brought a rush of relief over my soul. There was no breathing assistance needed, no NICU needed, no extended hospital stay. She came home with us 2 days later. I can remember standing over her cradle in amazement at all the things she was, and none of the things that they told us she would be. She had heart surgery at 6 months and we never looked back. For 15 years and 8 days shy of 1 month, she BLESSED our everyday life. She was a ballerina that loved to dance, reading anything she could get her hands on, Katy Perry, Doc McStuffins, Mary Poppins, Disney World, and to be anywhere her family was. She wanted to be a princess when she grew up. Always a smile, a hug and a how was your day, especially when it had been a rough day for one of us. Always so considerate and kind, and full of love and a smile. The unconditional love we learned and received was the greatest lesson of my life. People that are faced with this “decision” after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Downs…I BEG you, quiet your mind and open your heart. Trust, and have faith. It won’t always be easy, but it is without a doubt the greatest pleasure of my life to have been her mommy. The hardest part of having my daughter who just so happened to have Down Syndrome, was the day God said he needed her back. December 10, 2013. The world lost one of its brightest lights that day. Her race was run, and her purpose fulfilled. The greatest teacher of my life. Wouldn’t change a thing, except keeping her with me forever. 

One last question…..Would you turn down a piece of heaven if it was offered to you? They are as close as we can get to it in this unkind world we live in. The world NEEDS them. Let them teach us. We have so much to learn! Happy World Down Syndrome Day