Category Archives: Grief

How do you teach grief?

I am sad … and then I feel selfish, and helpless.  My Goddaughter lost her baby girl only a few weeks old due to contracting Group B Strep bacterial infection, GBS.  I had never heard of this insidious infection.  It has robbed my niece of her happy self.  Joy so quickly turned to sorrow.  And I don’t know how to help her through any of this.  I have dealt with my own grief so many times yet these days I am lost as to how to help my own Goddaughter.

I wish I could hug her and tell her things will get better, lighter with time.  But I know from my own personal experiences that is a lie.  Time doesn’t diminish grief.  Time doesn’t make it better.  Bad things happen to good people.  Things sometimes don’t happen for a good reason.

Logically, I understand and accept that grief is indeed an inevitable part of life; but knowing this doesn’t make getting through the day any easier.  Everyone grieves differently and I just wish I could spare my niece this unbearable pain.  I don’t know how to make her empty arms not ache to hold her baby girl.  I don’t know how to fill the wounded hole in her heart. I don’t know how to lessen the ache she must be feeling each and every minute.

How do I help her heal by letting her know that grieving is more than acceptable?  How can I begin to explain to her that loss has taught me to love more and appreciate life even more?  How do I show her that by writing, by sharing my own stories, reaching out to others has been my saving grace?  How do I teach her that love nor the pain goes away, it doesn’t diminish but when love grows I know there is life with loss, slow part of healing.  How do I let her know that she will always have a forever hole in her heart?

How do I show her my very own social face of grief?  I worry so much for her since I know how much grief can isolate one.  Depression and PTSD have isolated me too much in the past.  It has taken me a long time, and much effort to keep getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other … and now knowing what I deal with, I wish I could somehow spare my niece even the tiniest bit of this darkness.  I pray that she finds the strength to get up, move each day.  I know she will stumble and wonder how she can move when her spirits are so weighed down.

How do I let her know that my own grief still paralyzes me at times, that tears still surprise me?   How I do I let her know that choosing to live is a choice I make each and every day?  How do I express to her that although it has taken me a long time, and I still work at it every day, but I have learned how to live with loss.  I wish I could hug her and absorb some of her pain.  How do I tell her that it is okay to be happy and let joy in?  How do I show her that life changes and you grow from the deepest parts of your soul?  How can I show her how to claw from the bottom of despair and such unimaginable sorrow and pain over and over again?  How can I explain how grief teaches us to love more and reach deeper in our souls for acceptance for living?

I feel so much more deeply now because of my grief – its a cursing and a blessing.  I don’t know how to make things better for my Goddaughter.

I will never stop letting her know I am here … for whatever, whenever.  As I continue to work through my own grief, accepting that healing doesn’t mean I am never sad or that my memories fade … instead I try to relive certain memories, smiling through the tears, forever grateful for having those memories … learning how to embrace all of my feelings …. the love, the grief, the pain, the sorrow, the smiles, the joy … with grace in my step and hope in my heart.

 

 


One day … See You On The Other Side

Where does the time go?!  Why do some things never get any easier with time?  Why does my heart ache so?  Why does my anxiety level just skyrocket this time of the year? This weekend is so hard already for me.  Was in NYC and every time I heard a siren, I found myself nearly jumping off the sidewalk.  Too much sadness in the world.  So much on the news.  Sunday will mark 15 years since 9/11 terrorist attacks.  My life the past 22 years since my brother died in 1994, followed by my Dad’s passing in 1998 and then my fiance’s death on 9/11/2001- has been a long journey of loss, worry, depression, grief, anxiety, failure and slowly healing.  Each death, each loss, each time – something about my life changed and I lost pieces of myself.

Time does not fully heal all wounds.  I may still be broken, and my heart remains shattered…but it still beats and for that I am grateful.  The past few years of heartbreak and loss have also shown me much compassion and gratitude, and strengthened my faith. Some of my fear has diminished and I have more clarity, focus, determination to live fully for them.  I have found some peace.  Grief doesn’t end for me; doesn’t go away…but it does change.  Times like this weekend stir too many memories – good and bad.  Sadly, so many people believe that my grieving is a sign of weakness – but they are wrong.  Some people believe I lack faith – but they are also wrong.  My grieving after all these years is a testament to the love I shared with these men in my life.  The price I pay each and every minute, of every single day for loving them; for allowing their love to be a part of me.  So I don’t care if people think I am weak or mad.  I have had magic in my life and there is still fire in my will.  My brother, my Dad, Michael, my forever heart – they don’t just cross my mind, every once in a while – they live in it.  Always loved, forever missed.  In laughter and in sorrow, in sunshine and in rain – I know they are watching over me… my very own Angels in Heaven… until we meet again.

Grief is my shadow – following me everywhere I go.  Pain is manageable, dulled by my memories.  Ache is constant, made more hollow with sadness.  But then love and compassion fill me with light and hope.  Sunshine comforts me.   Some days I allow myself to just exist, no pressure and I get through it without guilt. I am able to find peace in moments of time, where I move forward, slowly with grace in my step, hope in my heart and smile through my tears.    Just breathing.

This song gets me each and every time … Ozzy Osbourne – “See You On The Other Side”:

Voices, a thousand, thousand voices
Whispering, the time has passed for choices
Golden days are passing over, yeah

I can’t seem to see you baby
Although my eyes are open wide
But I know I’ll see you once more
When I see you, I’ll see you on the other side
Yes, I’ll see you, I’ll see you on the other side

Leaving, I hate to see you cry
Grieving, I hate to say goodbye
Dust and ash forever, yeah

Though I know we must be parted
As sure as stars are in the sky
I’m gonna see when it comes to glory
And I’ll see you, I’ll see you on the other side
Yes I’ll see you, I’ll see you on the other side

Never thought I’d feel like this
Strange to be alone, yeah
But we’ll be together
Carved in stone, carved in stone, carved in stone

Hold me, hold me tight, I’m falling
Far away. Distant voices calling
I’m so cold. I need you darling, yeah

I was down, but now I’m flying
Straight across the great divide
I know you’re crying, but I’ll stop you crying
When I see you, I see you on the other side
Yes. I’ll see you. See you on the other side
I’m gonna see you. See you on the other side
God knows I’ll see you, see you on the other side, yeah

I’ll see you. See you on the other side
I’m gonna see you. See you on the other side
God knows I’ll see you, see you on the other side, yeah
I wanna see you, yeah, yeah, yeah, see you on the other side
God knows I’ll see you, see you on the other side, yeah
I’m gonna see you. See you on the other side


Grief At Odd Hours …

When I can’t sleep I find myself reading, writing, combination of both … picked up Dean Koontz’s book, Odd Hours.

And this quote just jumped out on me. So many people do an amazing job expressing exactly what I feel. Strong words resonate.

“Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

― Dean Koontz, Odd Hours


Giving myself permission …

I feel like an orphan but it beats being the black sheep, the victim, the scapegoat, the whipping boy – well girl. Giving myself permission to walk away, stay away, limit my interaction with my dysfunctional family.

Today was my niece’s wedding and she looked beautiful. I used to think it was a shame that I didn’t really have a real, warm nor loving relationship with her. But she is 30 years old. Not a child. And she has made no real attempt at being connected with me. I have three older sisters who have always made me feel excluded, different, unloved. And sadly that just spilled into their children.

I debated for months to attend the wedding or not. But I chose to attend. But after learning where my assigned seat was, and being there for an hour and no one really spoke to me, cared if I was there or not – I left. I have also decided I am done. I no longer feel the need to attend any more family gatherings out of obligation, guilt, etc. I am done being ostracized, ignored, blamed for their own lack of awareness and insecurities.

For the past 40 years, it has been extremely painful for me trying so hard to fit into this dysfunctional family I was born into. I have always been the sickly, nerdy, introverted one. I feel like I have spent a lifetime trying to win their love and approval, but my efforts have consistently been met with indifference, coldness and even disapproval. I have spent years sacrificing my physical, mental and emotional health in toxic relationships under the notion that we have to because these people were my family – but no more. Yes, it’s time to terminate these relationships when the only contact I have with them is really just negative, strained. This contact only serves to bring me down, makes me feel I am not good enough, or I haven’t done enough for them. No more.

I am learning to accept that when my family members exclude me, it has very little to do with me personally. It’s all about them, who they are, their past experiences, their unmet needs, their inability to communicate in healthy ways, their fears, etc.

Rationally, logically – I get it. But I am so sad, hurt, lost, alone … yet I know I have to just find a way to calmly let it roll off my back. It hurts a lot to disengage fully but I know I need to. I have tried repeatedly in the past, but I am done. I need to be done. I deserve to be happy. My pain and wounds run deep. But my wanting, trying and failing at having a real relationship with my family leaves me feeling more alone. And then if I tried anymore, it would just bring out the worst in me, regardless of how evolved and self-aware I know I am. And the stress wreaks havoc on my health – which right now is too precarious to further compromise.

As I got older, I couldn’t understand why there was such a disconnect between us and why our relationships were so superficial. They have rarely shown me any willingness or ability to improve the relationship and all my past efforts to improve it, left me feeling worse. I used to sit, think, make myself sicker with anxiety and question all. Was it low emotional intelligence, poor self-esteem, bad upbringing, jealousy, or narcissistic personality … I am beginning to accept I will never fully know. I am so tired of my confusion, my grief and angst. Tired of my expectations not being met.

My heart is forever broken – I wholeheartedly thought my family was supposed to love me unconditionally and support, encourage me in good times and bad. But throughout most of my lows and highs in my life, they have not been there, they have shown very little interest in me, and sadly I don’t think they even know who I am. I know they don’t know who I am – impatient, sensitive, thoughtful, wistful, quirky, quick-tempered, brutally honest, super smart, socially awkward, brave, scared, lonely, tired, dying slow death…I know they don’t know how I feel too much, think too much and wish too much to be normal, physically healthy, and just fit in.

It’s my time again to be selfish, keep to myself. I will forever love them, but from a distance. I can no longer put myself in situations where I feel more estranged, alone. I don’t deserve it. I will continue to keep my heart open, with understanding even compassion but for myself as well. We will all have to learn how to cope with our own bitterness and regret, and continue to find the emotional strength and motivation to create positive change in our lives.

Today was hard. But it will prove to be beneficial to me in the long run, since it makes me aware of my deepest fears, wounds, and longings. I have the courage to look in the mirror and use what I see to work on my own growth … with grace in my step and hope in my heart.


In Lieu of Flowers …

The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Mourning occurs in response to an individual’s own terminal illness, the loss of a close relationship, or to the death of a valued being, human or animal. There are five stages of grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.”

In our bereavement, we spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity. The five stages do not necessarily occur in any specific order. We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Many of us are not afforded the luxury of time required to achieve this final stage of grief.

If truth be told, I have been lost, grieving for over 10 years. I have moments, stretches of time where I smile more than I cry.

Lately though, I am just waiting … desperately wanting to feel healthy again. And I almost can’t remember what that is like again.

Yes, been thinking a lot about Kübler-Ross’ model of the five stages of the grieving process …

Grief of losing a loved one …
Grief of someone who is dying themselves …

Coming to the conclusion there is no real difference … tired from dying the slowest of deaths …

In lieu of flowers … grace in my step, hope in my heart.


My Music Memorial to my Forever Heart

I love the quote by “Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
― Victor Hugo, Hugo’s Works: William Shakespeare

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays

Today I sit alone, quietly yet loudly … music is my solace. Today I cry, no longer in silence to pay tribute to my forever heart and my three other best friends who all perished on 9/11. I lost so much that one day 14 years ago – that I still can’t seem to fully understand, move on from. Unfortunately in our lifetime we will all face the inevitable… the loss of a loved one – be it a parent, grandparent, sibling, child, family member, close friend, significant other or even a family pet. The death of that loved one has got to be one of the most powerful events that we will face in our lifetime. I also believe that almost everyone who has ever lost someone they really loved will remember them through the power of music – by a song that relates to a memorable experience in their life – a moment that is frozen in time. Everyone has there own personal way of coping with grief and it varies from person to person. Sometimes it helps to cleanse our mind with tears when emotions build up inside – it helps me. Michael’s love made me brave; God’s love gives me strength. Being able to share my grief, gives me understanding, perspective…as always with grace in my step, hope in my heart.


Find your passion … Wake up!

Yes, we all must be reminded to find our passion – no more settling!

“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.” – Joss Whedon

Need to find my happy place … places. On my forever journey with purpose, passion … with grace in my step, hope in my heart. ❤


Today … Never Forget Indeed!

I see so many people posting images in remembrance of 9/11, the words #NeverForget trending….candles being lit, and flags are waving. But ask yourselves, what does this truly all mean?

I sit and breathe in the silence
I sit and breathe in the pain
Moments…
Sitting by myself.
Waiting…

Yes …9/11. May we never forget. I feel my loss each and every day; even on those days when I smile, laugh, enjoy myself. I try harder each day to live my life to the fullest, not just for me, but for all of those I have lost. They will never have another chance to smile, laugh, cry …geesh, not even enjoy a glass of wine.

So, let’s always never forget…we have loved ones still live, with us. Hug them. Tell them you love them. Make time for them. Smile through your tears.
Thank a soldier. Volunteer. Do something other than post an image. Make someone smile today. Life is ever fleeting, hours, turn into days. Moments turn into memories. Tomorrow turns into yesterday.

I remember walking out into the beautiful sunshine and seeing the gigantic American flag above the Bear Stearns building that forever day etched into my soul, waving in the breeze so beautiful, so proud, so hopeful. And although my life forever changed, my safe protective bubble had been badly bruised and my heart broken, that flag reminded me that in the midst of the greatest loss lies the potential for the greatest miracles. That hope is never lost. That hate never gets the last word. My sadness won’t keep me down. I was reminded today by a fellow follower on here that I need to wrap my arms around the gift that grief has given me, and that is so true. So, thank you!

I know how life can seem cruel and life at times just isn’t fair and how true freedom comes at a cost … but through all odds I have never given up nor has America given up that dream. So yes…Never Forget … today is another chance at making a difference, taking strength in grief.

flag


Dani and Lizzy – Dancing in the Sky

Friend sent this to me…with two new Angels in Heaven this week, sometimes, words fail to express what our heart so desperately wants to say. We feel in such a way; the fire that burns inside our chests is threatening to shatter the world. We are powerful, yet we feel weak, because we want to be able to contain what we are feeling within punctuation marks. We must accept with grace and allow God to lead us. I believe there are openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. ♥ RIP ♥ German Hernandez ♥ Edwin Cruz


Heaven has another angel…

Came across this poem below and really needed it today. We lost yet another family member, my first cousin, Germancito, after a very long battle with Cancer. He put up a good fight, but God has decided to relieve him of his pain and suffering. It was time for German to join God as one of his angels in heaven. My heart breaks for my aunt, Rosa, his siblings and for his 2 beautiful children. I pray that God gives my family the strength to deal with this immense loss. This was a man that I admired, he was, and always will be such an inspiration to me, his strength was incredible. Rest in peace. Life is so fragile. I wish more people, especially in my immediate family, could see and appreciate how short life truly is and take time to care about others, show more compassion. I feel at times, I care too much, I hurt too deep, but my heart is ever expanding and always forgiving. The sun shines yet again as God took another angel into heaven.

The loss of a love one is so hard to face,
you just want to hide,
go somewhere and escape!
But death is something,
we all must go through,
I know it’s hard,
when it’s someone you loved and knew.

Just know now,
he is in a better place,
no more hurt or pain shall he face.
It seems unfair and yes this is true,
but he is in Heaven now
watching over me and you!

God has called him home to rest!!
And he’s being well taken care of
Because God knows best!

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy


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