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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Do I really have to go?

It was a wonderful Sunday, regardless of the rain.  We had our annual family reunion, it was a great time.  It is a chance to catch up on what has been happening over the past year, coo over the new additions to the family, and just being together.  With all its excitement and anticipation, it is also bittersweet, so many members of our family have passed away.  In the twelve years that we have held our reunion, we have had to say good bye to too many people; my dad, a couple of uncles, my daughter and an aunt.  It serves as a reminder of how precious our time is here on earth, and how important it is to cherish those people in our lives. 

As you move forward in your grief, you may find yourself having to go out and be surrounded by people who remind you of what you shared with your loved one.  At first it can be difficult, for me, I tended to avoid the familiar.  I didn't want the sympathy and pity, I was much more comfortable in crowds, where no one new what I was going through, thus not needing to explain or guard my emotions.  I also wanted the silence, just being alone listening to the whispers, maybe if I was still I could hear my daughter's voice, feel her presence.  My husband on the other hand, wanted noise and bustle, the silence bothered him, it made him uncomfortable.  

We all react differently, even within our own families, which can lead to some mixed feelings from others around you.  These different reactions also illicit comments from people who believe that family members should be experiencing the same emotions and reactions.  When Rachel passed away, I was unable to go back to my work routine, it was difficult for me to focus.  My husband, on the other hand went right back to work.  This difference within our home brought comments from some who felt that both of us should be moving on at the same pace.  They felt that our grief was the same and that I should be acting as my husband was.  

Grief is very unique to each individual, just as we all react differently when we first learned that someone we love has died, we to respond differently to grief.  Some of us want to keep busy in hopes of not having to dwell on what has happened; some of us cease to function, day to day tasks seem impossible.  As we move forward in our grief we may no longer take pleasure in doing some of the things we enjoy, like reading, watching TV, going out to dinner, etc.  I love to read, but it was months before I was able to pick up a book again, it took a while before I could focus long enough to enjoy the book.  There were days that I felt I was going crazy, and as I mentioned before, speaking to a counselor let me know that in grief, what I thought were odd behaviors, were actually quite normal.  I also found it very helpful to talk to other people who had had a family member who died.  It let me know that what I was going through was very real and normal, especially when I reached out to other parents who had lost a child.  

Reach out to others who have suffered a similar loss as you, another widow or widower, those who have lost a sibling, parent or child.  They are more than willing to share their experience and what helped them get through the darker days.  You will also find that when you speak of your loved one, you begin to feel a sense of acceptance and healing.  Let people around you know it is okay to talk about your loved one, share yours and their story, let people know what they meant to you.  It's okay, really.  Many bereavement sites remind you that "your loved one may have died, but the love never dies." (TAPS)  

So reminisce, take out those photos, smile, laugh, cry, but most importantly remember the love and everything that you shared.  For those of you who may have watched your loved one suffer days, weeks, months and even years, look beyond the recent memories and remember what they meant to you.  Look at those pictures and remember the fishing trips, the summer picnics, the family vacations or the backyard barbecues.  Remember life, rejoice in the life, and always remember the love, they are the gentle whisper, a light touch, and a beat of our heart.  Our loved one is always a part of who we are. 

Blessings!  and until we meet again.


  1. What you are doing for those who have lost a loved one, is a wonderful thing. As different people who have been created in so many different ways by God, experience and feel pain, we are wired in such a way that not one of us will deal with it the same way. Is it another's role to judge the way that we grieve? Some of us cry and are emotinal while others simply hold on to the hurt and pain felt within their soul. Does one grieve more than another, simply because one internalizes it while another externalizes it? I commend you for sharing this blog, simply because part of life is to experience death, whether a sibling, parent, child, cousin, or friend. We all want to hide from it, but the reality of it is, in life we will ALL experience it. It is talking to ones who have dealt with it that will help us grow and learn from the situation, and that makes going through it so much easier. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you and so very true. Unless someone has grieved the death of someone they love, it is hard to understand what someone might be feeling. Different losses also have different responses. I spoke to someone the other day who lost her husband several months ago, and more recently her son, and she says the pain is so different. She misses her husband, but the loss of her son is tremendous. Again thank you.

  3. People think by talking about it just makes you sad but what it does is make you remember and keep them in your life. They may not be there physically but spiritualy. If you pay attention around you they are there. For instance when you listen to a song and suddenly you think of the person whom you have lost think that is there way of saying I am here. When you stand in the rain and let the drops fall on your face that is kisses from heaven from your loved one. When the wind blows and the leaves on the trees are moving back and forth that is your loved one waving at you. These are some of the things I look at that make me believe both my parents are close to me. I always feel them around me. I lost both my parents when I was 2oyears old they left behind and younger brother and sister to take care of. How in the world was I suppose to do this. I was still in college dealing with that and know had to be not just a sister but a mother what did I know about that. I was pissed off at God how can he take them both away. Our parents left us with the tools we needed to get throught this but we just did not know it. It took support from family and friends to show us how to live with this grief the 3 of us experienced it at different times and different ways. My faith helped me deal with this the grief is always there but is managable. I could of either gone down another path and drifted away that road is much easier just forget do not let people in it is much easier road but I chose to face name it and deal with the pain. Jesus too took the not so easy road when he was arrested he could of said okay i will not do this again i will keep quiet but he chose to take the harder road so we could have a better live. My thoughts are for anyone who has lost anyone do not try to hide or mask the grief it is there it will not go away if you choose not to deal with it it will spiral out of control. It is okay to talk about it. It is okay to cry about it. It is okay to be mad about it. Jesus does not leave you alone he is there just listen and look around. He can be as close as your neighbor a co-worker or a friend. There is Jesus inside of all of us. It is just up to us to let other and ourselves see him which can be a hard thing to do because where their is pain remember there is also love.


  4. Helena thank you so much for sharing. I can't imagine losing both my parents at such a young age, but you have come through your experience with a gracefulness, that shines through your words. You and your family are true examples of what love can accomplish, and what faith can mean in our darkest hour. Our faith is very helpful in these difficult times, and whatever a person believes is not important, but that they believe is very, very important. I thank God every day for my faith, and how it has been a strong foundation that has helped keep me grounded. Thanks again for sharing.

  5. To me Rachel isn't gone, she may be gone in body but she will never be gone in spirit. She is in every butterfly I see. The beautiful colors are like her colorful personality. Beautiful and carefree, that was Rachel to me, like a butterfly. Is it a coincidence that when we are gathered together hanging out and enjoying ourselves there is always a butterfly nearby? I think not, that's Rachel making sure we know she's with us!! And always will be!!!!

  6. Cindy, how so very true, Rachel and all our loved ones are always near. I hear her laughter, and hear my dad call my name as only he did. As I am very sure that your mom whispers in your daughter's ear every night, kissing her sweetly goodnight and watching over all of you. And as for butterflies, they are a symbol of rebirth, new beginnings, giving us hope in knowing that we will meet again some day.