Tag Archives: life

the funeral is over. so now what?

I’ve been saying to myself over and over again that life goes on.  Yes, it’s true, life does go on after you have lost a loved one but how it goes on is never truly the same.

Death brings people together that maybe haven’t seen each other in years.  We all come together to honor, celebrate, mourn, and remember our loved one.  We share our stories, we laugh, we cry, we hug, we comfort.   But what happens when the funeral is over?  We all go back to life.   We all go back to work.  We all go back to school or being a mom or a dad.    People go back to their usual “life before the loss” and so must you.  But if you have experienced anything like I have seen in the last month of my life, is your life really the usual?

Yes, life does go on for you too, but hand in hand, so does your grief.  Your sense of loss doesn’t go away because you have to get the kids ready for school or you have to finish the perfect report for the 8am meeting.

The ceremony may be over.  The public honoring of one’s life might be through.  But are you over your grief and act like you always did? Has life really gone on?  When you lose a loved one, you feel the need to move on but you also don’t want to let go.  It’s as if letting go and moving on with life is forgetting what just happened.  Are you callous?  Do you not care?  How can you go back to work?  In fact for that matter, how can you even get out of bed?

Then there are those people around you, sometimes even close friends, who act like you should be back to normal.  Like the event never even happened.  You sometimes just want to shake them and say, I am not normal yet!  My grief hasn’t stopped.  In fact, I’m not sure if I can ever make it stop.  Just because I am forcing a smile on my face doesn’t mean I’m okay.  I’m not sure I will ever be okay again.

While I agree that on many levels getting back to a routine can be good for you, at the same time, I have come to the conclusion that you may never again act like you did before.  And certainly not right away.   You can put on a happy face and deal with life but how could anyone ever know that hidden under that mask of “back to reality” are the tears and sorrow that are so hard to shake.  And the overwhelming feeling of loss hits you when you least expect it.  Your “normal” life is anything but normal. It’s different. It’s unknown.  And it can change at any given moment…on any single day.  I have found a fragility that I have never known before.  It’s the old “look at me cross-eyed and I might break into tears” type of fragility. It is anything but normal.

So you are now faced with a seemingly monumental task of figuring out…what is the new normal in your life.

After my brother passed away the end of June this year, I struggled with my new normal.  My life went on.  My work was my safe haven and my son was my new hero.   They both saved me from what I’m sure could have turned into a serious depression.  For the most part, it was normal at work, back to business.  My mind could focus on what I needed to do. It occupied my thoughts so I could actually feel a bit normal.  I had coworkers who needed me and this is what helped me get out of bed the mornings following.  And then there was my son.  Well, let’s face it; I still had to be a mom.  I still had to do laundry, grocery shop, and get ready for a new school year.  He needed me to still be his mom and this kept me sane during the times I was with him.  We shared stories, we looked at pictures, but we also looked to the future, together.  We talked about vacations, getting a new driver’s license, our birthdays coming up.  We made plans.  One day, I gotta remember to tell him, you saved my spirit.  One day, I’ll tell him.

But then… there were those moments when I was alone. And that normal was definitely new.

No, I didn’t see my brother every day but we were the type of siblings in which we didn’t need to see each other to keep our bond tight. 061 We did however have the every two weeks phone calls.  Both of us had always been a wake up at the crack of dawn kind of person so it was a perfect time in the quiet of the early morning hours to catch up.  Pouring a cup of coffee, sitting on my patio, and just talking to him.  Hearing about his work and travels.  Catching him up on my work.  Sharing the latest stories about our children and families.  Asking me about my love life.  Sharing my adventures of a single girl.  He wasn’t just my big brother during those calls; he was one of my best friends.

They were the best phone calls.  Saying anything yet sometimes saying nothing at all.  Crying, laughing or venting if we needed to.  But plain and simple, it was about just listening.  Listening to each other.  Asking about each other and truly hearing and caring.  The best memory of those calls I will always cherish is the way he said goodbye.  At the end of every phone call he would say “hahaha…bye…hahaha”.  He was always chuckling or laughing in some silly way when he said it.  His laugh was contagious and it would make me smile and shake my head every time we hung up.  It wasn’t a goodbye… it was a happy “bye” and I’ll catch you later.

So I am learning to find a new way of normal during the time that those phone calls would happen.  I am figuring out how I can still have those talks.  And rightfully so, like every other moment in my life when I needed to let out my emotions, I turn to a pen and paper or now a keyboard.  I fill the pages with all the things I would want to tell him.  How my son is doing in school, the latest single girl escapades, and how much I miss hearing his voice.  I laugh.  I cry.  I smile.  I believe he is listening.

If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, you too may be struggling with your new normal.  Talk to someone, express how you feel, find your creative outlet, get out a pen and paper, splash some color on a canvas, do whatever it is to get you though this hump.  And you too will get through it.  It takes some time and it takes some work.  While lying in bed and hiding from the world may feel good sometimes, and believe me I have been there in these past few weeks, tell yourself to get out of bed and make every effort you can to find your new normal.

So while I have learned that part of my new normal is missing those calls and those byes, I now pour my coffee, sit on my patio, talk out loud to the redbird on my fence, and write.  And I know he is listening.  I know he is smiling.  And I know he is still with me.  And when I’m done, I can close my eyes and just for a moment, in that quiet little moment of the early morning hours, I can almost hear that good- bye.

a letter to my baby

To my son

Today you will be starting a new journey in your life, high school.  I know it may not seem like it but today is the first of many steps to becoming the man you will be.  It’s a very exciting day and, yet a bit of a sad day for me.  You are growing up way too fast!

You have been the most precious and wonderful gift I ever received.  As your mom, yes, I will always love you unconditionally.  I also will tell you that you make me catch my breath sometimes because you have grown up to be such an amazing, young man.  I am so proud of the choices you have made, the advice that you have asked for, and the ability to talk about your feelings.  These traits, I hope, will be very valuable for you in high school and beyond.

You will encounter all kinds of experiences and people in high school.  Some people will remain lifelong friends, some just acquaintances that you will reminisce with at future class reunions.  I have one wish for you, enjoy them all.  Don’t judge the book by the cover.  Don’t let the pressures of your peers make your decisions on who a person is or isn’t.  Get to know them and make that decision for yourself.  People just may surprise you.

Don’t be afraid.  High school is a place where you can find out what you love, what you are good at, and a place to be yourself.  Be you.  Explore the opportunities that will enable your light to shine.  High school is also a place that you may find out what you don’t want to be.  Continue to try to make good choices.  If you however make a poor choice, I will still love you just as much as I have your whole life.  I will always be here.  I will always listen and help you when you want my help.

Ask for help when you need it.  Call me if you are in a situation you don’t want to be in.  I promise you I will pick you up from wherever you are with no questions asked.  At least for that night.  Know that I will be there for you every day with no judgment; however, you also know that as the mom that I am, there will be discussion.  Lots and lots of discussion.  Like I have told you so many times before, you are my most precious gift and you and your safety is the single most important thing to me.  High school is a lot different from when I graduated but at the same time, so much the same.  There will be moments that will define you.  Define your character. Continue to make the good, smart choices that you have always made.

See what it boils down to is you will always be my baby.  No matter how grown up you get, how you start shaving, or how you surpass me in height and shoe size…You will always be my baby.

I will always watch you sleeping and see your beautiful innocent face.

I will always get a tear in my eye when you struggle with a problem.

I will always, no matter what, be here for you.

I am so ridiculously proud of you, my baby, and ready to watch you make your way on your journey.

Go take on the world and have an amazing year

my year with friends

football
since 1982 talking sports

When is the last time you bypassed raking the leaves and taking care of chores on the weekend to spend it with a friend? How about calling at the spur of the moment and inviting them to lunch?

When my first #ThinkKit prompt came for a pictures that sum up your year, my mind didn’t have to work too hard to figure it out.  These past couple years have been years filled with change for me.  Between becoming newly single and losing my mom within 6 months of each other in 2012, my life seemed to be an endless whirling dervish of chaos.

since 1990…                  birthdays

But this year, I focused on things I missed out on: my love of reading, my endless need to write, even if it’s only a paragraph in a journal, or my new found obsession with a paintbrush and canvas.  But most of all, I found myself gravitating back to my friends that I had lost touch with over the years.

since 1985 evenings of music
since 1985 evenings      of music

Yes, life happens and we all get busy with children, jobs, and well crap.  But I made a conscious effort this year to not make the job and crap priorities.  I found my friendships, no matter how long they had been lingering, were just as strong as ever.  #ThinkKit prompt only made me realize it.

since 1993 nights dancing
since 1993           nights dancing

We all get so busy with life and we so often use those excuses for losing touch with old friends.  It very well might be true however, think about how your life may have been different if those same people had been around.

since 1997 just being us
since 1997                   just being us

So as the year closes, I hold my friends a little tighter.  I cherish not only the past memories but the ones that are yet to come.  I will call and schedule lunches.  I will continue to celebrate special occasions. And I will not be afraid to tell them how incredibly special they are to me.