Moving Forward


Moving forward is something I sometimes have an internal struggle with. Maybe it is because I do not want to forget those I have lost. Or, maybe it is because I have become so accustomed to feeling a certain way… A certain amount of sadness… that I don’t quickly welcome change. My thought can sometimes be that, IF I move forward THEN I might forget. Deep down, I know this is not true; however, the fear exists that it could happen… I will FORGET them… What if I forget to remember them? What if I forget to honor their life? What if I forget that they lived?

For several years, I have had so much pain associated with loss that I have had a hard time allowing myself to be completely comfortable in the happiness I continue to find in my life. At times, I begin to question myself and wonder that, if there is less pain constantly reminding me of their departure, then does it mean I don’t miss them, or that I don’t wish they were still here, or even that I don’t love them as much as I used to? There is some small part of me that is so used to hurting and feeling pain that when it disappears, I am scared and I don’t feel quite like myself. I believe this is because, ONE: Change can be difficult. AND TWO: I don’t want to forget those wonderful people that played such an important role in helping me become who I am today. Selfishly, I don’t want to forget what I had to go through to appreciate the enormous amount of happiness I have in my life. In these moments I have to tell myself: “Elizabeth!  You are being ridiculous! AND, you are not forgetting… Instead you are LIVING… You are LIVING the life you want; the life you should have!”

Moving forward and even letting go of the pain associated with loss does not mean we are forgetting. Those we have lost would not want us spending the little time we have on this earth sad, worried or troubled. They want us to be happy; they want us to learn; they want us to experience life to the fullest. It is OK to move forward and to allow life to happen the way you always wanted it to… even without them. Yes, it is going to be different because they are not physically here. BUT, I believe they are here sharing moments with us, whether we see them or not. And, we deserve to feel the happiness we would if they were standing next to us in those moments we feel we need them most.

We are going to have circumstances that will encourage us to reflect; something will happen that will leave us wishing we could share that time with the ones we have lost. Who am I going to call for advice about this issue? Who is going to laugh with me when I watch our favorite show? Who is going to walk me down the aisle? Who am I going to vent to? My children will never get to meet their grandmother, or grandfather, or maybe both. Whatever it is that you may be reflecting on… if you find that you are not allowing yourself to be completely happy in the moments where you know you want to be, consciously make an effort to be happy and joyous; to feel the love that surrounds you with the most intensity you possibly can. Honor the fact that those you have lost won’t physically be there to share in your excitement, but know that THIS IS THE ONLY LIFE WE GET. Focusing on the things we do not have, rather than accepting the love and excitement that is present, will cultivate continued pain and sadness. It’s OK if your sadness is replaced by happiness. In fact, I ENCOURAGE it! Who am I?! I am someone that is experiencing it too! I am here to tell you, even though you might be afraid that you could… YOU WON’T FORGET THEM. They won’t let you! So, enjoy these moments! Yes, even the frustrating ones. Know that you are so deeply loved by those seen as well as those who are among the unseen.



This, Too, Shall Passk

alexander-lam-83677I wildly, and frantically, rushed to find him immediately after I was told he was missing from work and no one had seen him. I had called my sister and sent her out to make sure he had not been in an accident on his way home. She found his car in its usual spot at the hospital, where he was last known to be. I pulled up to his car and parked next to it. Something did not feel right; in fact, my body was reeling. My stomach was in knots. I sat there praying and telling myself he was going to be the next person to walk out of the doors. I kept my eyes glued to those doors and hit redial on my phone, over and over. I hoped he would finally pick up and have a good explanation for his absence. Each time, the same thing… voicemail. I sent several texts that started out as: “Are you OK?”- they quickly escalated to – “I’M WORRIED! CALL ME AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS!!”

FINALLY! My phone rang, but… it wasn’t him. It was a co-worker of his. They told me that someone had found him… OH! THANK GOD!…  he was in the emergency room of the hospital I was waiting outside of. I jumped out of my car and ran inside. At the ER counter, it was corrected that he was not there, but in ICU. They told me that, once I got to the secured floor, I only needed to buzz the desk from the hall and tell them who I was, then I would be taken to him. Instead, after giving them my identity, the locked doors opened and three people swarmed me. They shuffled me into a room off to the side of the waiting area and closed the door. They explained that he hadn’t looked well earlier in the day. When confronted and asked if he needed help, he refused and said he felt that he just needed to rest. They continued with their details of the day and of how he had gone missing for awhile… until one of his co-workers had gone into the windowless room that his company used for supplies, and found him…

They found him slumped over some boxes… as the words spilled from their lips, my brain imagined the next words to be something like: He has had X, Y and Z happen and now he is in critical condition… Then, I heard: “He had died. We tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late. He had been gone too long.” I was dumbfounded to, what I believe to be, my fullest extent…  Traumatized, I sat there… quiet and pensively disturbed for an uncertain amount of time… it seemed like an eternity. Finally, one of the people in the room spoke up, jarring me from my confused state, and asked if there was anyone I could call. I began dialing the numbers of those closest to us, and told them the news I had received. As our shaken family members began to arrive, the informants took us back to see his body. When we finally reached him, I clung to him and silently begged him to come back. Please don’t let this be happening. You’ve come so far. You’re too young. Come back! Please, come back! I clutched his hand and felt it move with each bit of pressure I applied. The entire time I was allowed to be with him, I continued to put pressure to his hand so I could feel as if there was some life left; like death had not actually STRANDED his body there in that hospital.

The events of that one terrible day are recalled so vividly that my heart still surges with anxiety, my brain still clouds, and I intensely live through it all again as I replay through what actually happened. I’d like to ask: As you read my story, did you experience some discomfort? Were you saddened when you imagined going through something like that with someone you love? Did you remember your own story of how you found out a loved one died? Did it make your heart pound or create anxiety? Did you tear up and lose track of your breath? I hope you answered yes to at least one of those questions, because I would like for you to use that experience and/or emotion to really read and relate to what I am going to say next.

This, too, shall pass.” That one dreadful day, of the many days that have encompassed my life so far, passed. So many good things have happened since then, along with some really bad. Every day a little different; a roller coaster ride of experiences, emotions, accomplishments and failures. Each moment gifting me with wisdom, strength and more love than I could have ever imagined. That terrible moment passed, and those affected have made our best attempt to adjust  to what that moment meant in our lives. Just like many people have, you are going to experience terrible moments. You will experience great moments too. Guess what?! They will pass! Each moment passing just as quickly as the last… this life is incredibly short. I remember laying in bed with my fiance; we would daydream and talk about how exciting our future together seemed to be. Soon we would both have Master’s degrees, and the options for our careers seemed limitless. We’d fantasize about our destination wedding in Ireland and talk about the silly children we would have… IF they were anything like us! In moments like that, I would place my head on his chest, and I would say to myself: “This, too, shall pass.” I still use this phrase REGULARLY (Daily, maybe even hourly sometimes, haha!.. it’s safe to say, I use it as needed) in difficult times, but most importantly, in good times too. I do this to be present and remain humbled to life.

Right now will be gone just as quickly as it came; a lot of times we use the phrase, “This, too, shall pass”, in moments where we need encouragement to get through a tough time. Instead of only using the phrase as a source of encouragement, try applying it in moments of happiness as well. This simple act allowed me to feel the air my fiance was breathing raise and lower his chest. I heard his heartbeat. I felt the life in him and experienced him LIVING. If I have had the privilege of meeting you, I have done the same in our interactions; I have taken something positive from, and internalized, our time together. Thank you, I am grateful for you and the time we have shared. Please know that, no matter what you are going through in this moment, it will pass. If you are experiencing something great, use this time to truly appreciate what you have. Internalize the love and joy you are feeling this very moment. If you are experiencing something not-so-great, maybe even something terrible, know that these low moments will lead to future great moments. There are so many good things to experience that have yet to come. The low moment you may be experiencing will help you to better appreciate the good once it arrives. Either way, say it with me… “This, too, shall pass.”



The Sidelines


Twins. Some may believe they have superpowers.  If you know Elizabeth and I, I amIMG_4751 willing to bet that you can practically see us running around with eye masks and tights, right?!  She and I are that silly, and twins are just that… well, SUPER!  You have to understand, we were oohed and awed at so much as children, it seemed there was something special about us as we were growing up.  People would ask: Can you hear her thoughts?  Can you feel her pain?  I was in awe and amazement to their awe and amazement of us.  Other kids seemed mesmerized by two girls that looked, sounded and acted so much alike. They wanted very badly to know what it was like to be a twin. I was equally inquisitive; I would always ask those inquiring: “What is it like not to be a twin?“. Not sharing a birthday party, wearing non-matching outfits, I mean… what is THAT like?

As we have matured, my sister and I have mastered another level of superpower-like communication, The Look.  Often times, we can just look at each other, no matter the circumstance, and just know what the other is thinking; with subtle movements of our eyes and nods of our heads we can pretty much have a full conversation with no words. But, not with this. This loss was our communication kryptonite. No more X-Ray vision into her mind; a mind that I had effortlessly navigated my way around many times before.  For the first time, my sister was experiencing something I couldn’t.  I had a husband, a son, and a baby on the way.  I had it all, and her world just fell apart. What can I do?  How can I help you?  What do you need? Would you like to come stay with us for a while?  I inundated her with these questions in an attempt that one of my offerings would fix it and make it all go away. I hoped I could make the strain of being forever without him, disappear.

I was upstairs, at home, about to start the laundry when I received the call. “They found him. He died, Becky.” I had just returned home from driving around town looking for his vehicle after she called and said she was notified that he had been missing since the afternoon. The earth shifted and I was forced to quickly regain my balance and make sense of the words that were just uttered.  “I’m coming.  I’ll be right there.  I love you.”  NO, NO, NO, we just lost our grandfather.  We were just starting to adjust to his loss. How can this be happening?  I had to watch my sister pick an urn for her future husband’s ashes and a suit for his final viewing. I could see she was going through the motions; being orchestrated by life and dictated by those who organized this sort of thing.  But, HOW?  How did she have a smile on her face?  How did she get out of bed? How did she still laugh? I saw strength in her I had never before imagined she’d harbor. And, up to this point in our lives, I thought I was the strong one.

FOREVER… The gravity that word forces; we throw it around so meaninglessly, at times. Forever, as we know it, we WILL BE WITHOUT him. His laugh, his touch, and his quirky since of humor.  This is a final and predictable FOREVER, without fail, SHE will be FOREVER without HIM.  Life stopped and everything around us kept moving at warped speed.  How do you take control of a Tornado?  You don’t. Your only control is running away from the storm and seeking safety.  I made every attempt to be her safe place, but she hid from me, just as she had begun to do with many others.  I am your home, I thought.  Her strength seemed to become something to prove; not just to everyone else, but to me. ME TOO? Really?! I wanted to fix it all for her, but couldn’t.

david-schap-128013I had never felt so useless, helpless, and distant from her.  I was forced to sit on the sidelines, as she wandered this life experience alone. I would compare my observation from the sidelines to watching a child walk for the first time. We know the child will trip and fall, but we have to encourage them to get up and try again. Just like watching the child, we have to have faith that when our grieving loved ones need help, they will reach out to us for encouragement.  I have consistently been there to hold tight, to listen to her cry and to talk about how hard life can be now.  At first, I didn’t know how to be there, how to help or heal.  I later realized that she just needed me to be there when she needed me to be, unfailingly and steadfast.  “You don’t always have to answer the phone when I call, Becky,” she’d say.  “Yes I do!  It’s my duty, it’s written in some sibling code thingy!” And, I will always be there in any way I can because it’s all I have to offer, and its what she needs the most.

The void that is left behind from loss takes on a cumbersome form of its own. The weight from this void will eventually become easier to carry through life.  There will be times when memories of life before loss will rehash hidden feelings. We will adjust together, just as we have before.  Remember, WE ALL HAVE AN INNER WARRIOR. If you are standing on the sidelines while someone is grieving or in need of your support, simply be there. Remind them they are SUPER and that you are cheering for them! Be there to listen; to be a safe harbor. Our individual experiences with grief may be nothing alike, even if we share the same loss. Grief has no timeline, so we must be consistent and dependable for as long as we can be; stepping in only when we feel they may need us. We can not completely take their pain away or fix it, as much as we might want to. But that’s OK; sometimes, the best vantage point is from the sidelines. We can be there to put on our capes and be something SUPER for them when they need it the most.


Egyptian Warrior


The deep despondency I encountered each morning as I woke is nearly too intense for description within my vocabulary or expression. I hoped to be waking from a nightmare; instead, my heart would sink as I realized that I was waking to my new tortured reality. A wave of confusion, sadness, numbness, terror, and hopelessness would wash over me as I was reminded that I was not in our bed… or, in the home we had created together. Instead, I woke to my sister clutching onto me in an effort to comfort and relieve me of as much torment as she could… I found refuge and solace for a few hours an evening as I clung onto her and dreamt of better things. Her warmth and love surrounded me and made me feel at home… we shared a womb – after all.

FullSizeRenderOpen your eyes. Sit up. Put your feet on the floor. Stand. Walk to the bathroom. Turn on the water. Undress. Get in the shower. Bathe. Turn off the water. Get out of the tub. Towel off. Get dressed… and don’t you DARE put the clothes you slept in back on… Put on clothes you can leave the house in. DO IT, Elizabeth! Put on makeup. Dry your hair… Until those, seemingly, simple and everyday things became second nature again, I had to actively tell myself to put my body in motion. My limbs felt so heavy and my mind so detached; even just putting one foot in front of the other was a challenge. But, I had to move; the days were actively proceeding, even though I couldn’t fathom how my life possibly could. I was still very much alive, and had people depending on me to be OK. I just had to play the part in order for it to all come together again… some day.

I was nearing the end of classes to earn an MBA when everything happened. As much as I felt like I could not concentrate or focus most of the time, I had come too far to stop now. I was determined to finish what I had started. The coursework gave me something positive to focus on, and I was able to finish the classes and graduate on schedule despite the circumstances. Hell yes! I did that! I finished my MBA!! In retrospect, I am beyond proud of this accomplishment; at the time, I just felt that it was something I had to doIn me existed a deep-rooted, intrinsic drive that propelled me. Best of all, this drive would not let me stay in bed, put on last night’s pajamas or give up… It would not let me QUIT. I had to continue working toward the goals I had set for myself. If I could finish my MBA during the most extreme circumstances I had experienced to-date, then what else was I capable of doing?!

Out of desperation for closure with the unexpected loss of my fiance, I reached out to a psychic. I didn’t put much merit into the accuracy of what she said as much as I did the words she offered. Her words triggered something in me that I don’t think I would have otherwise discovered. She told me that, in a past life, I was an Egyptian Warrior. BAHAAAAA!! Me? An Egyptian Warrior?! You’re crazy lady! She went on to say that, as a warrior, I was strong-willed and a natural leader. I (he) lead armies of soldiers into many successful battles. I giggled as I envisioned myself as an enormously robust Egyptian man (What?! It’s my pretend past warrior self… I could have been a mountain of a man… We don’t know! haha). She went on to tell me that I carried a lot of the character traits from my former life into my present being. PAUSEHmmm… And, here I was thinking I had inherited my stubbornness, I mean… headstrong characteristics, from certain members of my family. HAHA!  BUT, this woman made me think. True or not, I liked the thought of having personality traits of a strong Egyptian Warrior.

I am lucky enough to have had it vocalized to me the strength and drive others recognize in me; however, in reality, I am NO DIFFERENT from anyone else. Sometimes, we don’t know how we will respond to things until they happen. We are all given the strength and power to choose how our circumstances will affect us. We get to decide HOW we think, HOW we feel and HOW we react to any situation we are faced with. I made a choice. My circumstances will not define me, but will give me character and will add to my durability. If you are finding it difficult to see how you can possibly move forward and keep going; if you feel that you have lost your WILL or your DRIVE. You just can’t get MOTIVATED. Reflect on your accomplishments and give yourself the credit you deserve. Search within. Channel YOUR inner Egyptian Warrior. You don’t have to be what you think other’s expect you to be. You get to decide; this is your life – after all. Live for yourself. You can take it One. Day. At. A. Time… Take charge and fight for yourself. Talk yourself through each step, if you have to, until they become second nature again. You can do anything you put your mind to. YOU have the POWER. YOU are STRONG. YOU are a WARRIOR.


Letting Go

annie-spratt-183421“Change the way you see things, and the things you see will change” – Wayne Dyer

Upon reflecting on those words, I am inclined to believe that our individual perception of our own world varies greatly from one person to the next. I bet that, if we were given the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes for one day, we would experience a world so foreign and distant from our own, we may realize that we should not make assumptions of others, or be so harsh in our judgments of them. One simple change in how we see the situations we are faced with, how we perceive other people, and/or how we view ourselves can make an extreme difference in our lives, and in the lives of those around us. ALSO, it WILL trigger additional changes in us… POSITIVE CHANGES. I promise!

At some point in my adult life, I recognized that I held onto what others thought of me; and, not just held onto… I was masquerading around identifying as the character I thought others thought I was. I did this based on my perceptions of what I thought they thought of me, and how I thought they perceived me. Wow, that can get complicated!  And, let me tell you, I never thought about the good things people would say to me, or about me, when I was “reflecting” on myself “according to others”. I allowed their judgments and perceptions to determine how I perceived myself, and it wasn’t appealing. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t pretty enough… I was NOT… ENOUGH.  This type of circular, self-deprecated way of thinking complicated my life. It made me not like ME. It made me constantly judge myself, and think I was less than others. It made me doubt who I was. It made me feel bad… in general.

In a recent conversation with a close friend of mine, I was reminded that when people are used to seeing the world with a negative view, it makes it extremely difficult for them to see any good or anything positive… anywhere! I.e., in others, themselves, or in most of the situations they are faced with. If you know someone like this, you may know there are many life experiences that can condition a person to perceive the world as they do. So, any change in them must be an internal change that they recognize needs to happen in order for their lives to improve. As much as we want to, we cannot do it for them. But, we can do it for ourselves, and we can tell them what worked for us… if they ask.

I am going to tell you something that you may agree with, or you may not like, want to hear, or know what to do with once you read it, but here goes: Get out of your head. Stop thinking so much. You know you do it! We all do! I know.. easier said than done. But, staying in your head and thinking too much only hurts you, and potentially others, if you consistently perceive the world with your negative goggles on… Yes. I am referring to abstract eye-wear that makes you view the world in a negative way. Take them off! Part of healing is letting go. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be free from whatever it is that is bothering you. You are a good person. No! An AMAZING person! Try to let go of something RIGHT NOW that has been bothering you (I am not asking you to let go of everything at once if you feel overwhelmed by that statement, just one thing… let go of one thing. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is). Are you still angry with your sister for that thing she said at Thanksgiving? OR Is there something you have been carrying negative feelings about for as long as you can remember? When you truly let go of things that are hurting or bothering you, they don’t have the power to hurt or bother you anymore; they can’t define who you are. AND, a side effect is… what others think of you won’t matter as much. In other words, the more you let go, the less THEIR thoughts, and what you think they think will matter.

I know in some moments, it seems like the issues we are faced with are so serious, and they deserve all of our attention and focus… but, what excuse will we have tomorrow when we are looking for another reason not to let go. It’s OK to Lighten up. YES! Life is difficult! YES! We are faced with tough decisions and hardships! YES! This life downright sucks sometimes! But, it will pass. Let it go. Let go of the sadness. Let go of the hurt. Let go of the ego that has attached itself to you. Don’t forget about the past… that is not what I am suggesting at all. But, the negative feelings you have associated with the past… let go of those. REMEMBER your past! It made you who you are. But, do your best to let go of any negative feelings you have toward yourself, others, your situation… your past… whatever it is… and you will experience a change that may have seemed impossible only moments ago. Experience the freedom of Letting Go.

The Blur

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Immediately following my losses, I was violently reduced to unrecognizable pieces of myself. In a state of shock, I was forced into, what I call, SURVIVAL MODE; doing whatever it takes to survive. My life was totally transformed in an instant. There was no preparation for what was happening to me as a result of my loved ones’ departure. Part of me felt as if I had it all together. I had to be strong for those around me; I had to be strong for myself. There was a part of me that felt like I knew myself well enough, and it was only a matter of time before I would begin to feel like my “old self” again. Part of me was scared and nervous. Part of me was excited for what good would come; I was thoroughly convinced that someone could not experience something so traumatic and have nothing positive come from it.

I had just lost a dear man that influenced my life tremendously throughout my upbringing. He was my, figurative, right leg; one of the people I was dependent on for guidance, free of judgement. He was a source of an intense amount of love that isn’t easily found. The words he had were simple; they were real, honest, and spoken out of his devotion to teach and uplift. He empowered the women in his life and rendered us with solid values. He discouraged complacency and taught us to be people that never settled.

Only ten days later, the man I was intending on spending the rest of my life with… the man that, in my mind, was supposed to anchor me and keep me grounded; my, figurative, left leg. Gone! Just like that. NEVER coming back. NEVER. That word took me the longest to process. NEVER. How? He was just here this morning! NEVER? He kissed me goodbye when he left for work, as he always did. NEVER. He told me he loved me and that he would be home in the evening. NEVER! Really?! Now, my left leg has been severed too! I can’t stand without legs. I can’t finish this journey without being able to walk the path! PANIC set in. But wait! You can’t go yet! I’m not done with you! We had our entire future ahead of us. The world was ours! We had a plan! I NEED YOU! I NEED YOU for strength! I NEED YOU for happiness. This can’t be happening. Shattered. Shocked. Striped of nearly everything I knew my life to be. Now what? Some of my greatest fears had come to fruition. What do I do? Who am I without these people? 

The blur of time between experiencing these traumas and it actually registering that life was NEVER going to be the same is still somewhat fuzzy as I try to recollect. Maybe that part of the blur is our brain’s way of assisting survival. I know that I began to identify as a shell of a person; the love I once had had been hollowed out and sent off to wherever they went. I sat and watched as cars drove by. I watched people smile and laugh. I watched as they carried on with their lives. I wondered how their world could keep going when I felt like mine had come to a complete halt. The future plans and dreams I had were completely destroyed.

My SURVIVAL MODE inspired life could not accurately portray who I really was, or am now for that matter. While I have grown tremendously from some of the experiences I had following loss, others severely humbled me. These humbling experiences made my grieving journey more difficult, and generated more internal sadness and shame as well as intensified the blur in my life. I continued to grow with these experiences, but was angry at what I was allowing myself to become. I could have avoided these self-inflicted blows; I was careless. The heaviness of guilt that attached itself like a leech, I carried with me for quite a while. When I “came to”, I looked back and saw a hazy shadow of a past… my past. A past I had to take responsibility for. I felt as if I was wearing the dread and sadness on my face. I felt that there was a label on my forehead that said “I’m LOST.”, and that I was transparently stumbling through my own life.

I, eventually, realized the strong dependency I had on others for MANY things, specifically strength and happiness. Once I realized my co-dependency, I began taking steps to find strength and happiness in myself. One of the most important steps I took was making sure that I was surrounded by people who loved me, genuinely loved me. I call this PEOPLE INVENTORY; this is keeping only those people that are positive influences and removing the rest (*SIDE-NOTE: You don’t have to loose someone to do PEOPLE INVENTORY; it is healthy to remove people that are not positive in your life no matter what your life experiences are). I wanted people that could help to cultivate strength and happiness in me. I cannot imagine where I would be today if I did not have the friends and family I have. I can say, I don’t think I would still be here and I certainly would not be writing this.

It is important that we take care of ourselves when we feel we are at our weakest. Part of taking care of ourselves is evaluating our current relationships (a.k.a. PEOPLE INVENTORY). Try not to get swept up in the blur. We have a tendency to get caught up in the daily comings and goings; the drama and sadness; the hurt and pain that we forget to take care of ourselves and what it means to live. What it means to be ALIVE. We might numb our feelings to create or continue fueling the blur to avoid feeling what we need to… trust me, I know plenty about doing this. It does not help, and it only prolongs the painful part of the process. If you find yourself in a blur, or doing things to numb your feelings and postpone sadness (because, let’s face it, that is all you are doing), seek professional help if it is available to you, or a person you know can help. Don’t forget that your life is still in motion, and time is passing at a rapid rate. While it may feel like life is not worth living at times, you are here for a reason. Your life is yours and you matter to others more than you will ever know. Another part of taking care of ourselves is cultivating the relationships we currently have.

Take a breath. Did you appreciate that breath? Look around you. Do you appreciate those around you? Having strong, meaningful relationships is a huge part of taking care of ourselves. It is important not to be afraid to love for fear of losing again. I struggled (and, admittedly, still struggle) with this. The pain we feel when we loose someone is only a testament to their life and what they meant to us. We helped give their life meaning. We helped give them a purpose; just as they did, and may continue to do, for us. What better gift can we give to a deserving person, other than our love? Don’t wait for someone to be gone to say nice things about them. Tell them every chance you get how much you love and appreciate them. They should hear it while they are here. Show them you love them with your actions. If someone does something to upset you, take a moment and ask yourself: “Is this really that big of a deal?” If you can’t answer with a solid “YES”, let it go. Hug them instead. Hold on to the positive, and let go of the negative. NEVER is a long time to not see someone again.

One Door Closes

Doors close all the time. Sometimes their closing is completely out of our control, and other times we are the ones closing them… sometimes with a quick, full-bodied push, then turning the lock so fast, you’d swear you could challenge John Wayne’s trigger finger to an old fashioned dual… Oops! Did I just strap that key to the western era and blast it into a past I didn’t even exist in?! Yes! Yes, I did! I never want that door to open again! Other times, we get up off of our knees, confused, to look behind and see the door has shut. And, at times, it feels like we are being shoved out of that door while we are clinging to the edges trying our damnedest to stay on the inside. But, the locks are turned at our back the second our arms and legs give way to the frame. Rude! Whatever your experience is with the door, think of this: in the words of Semisonic (lyric cred to Closing Time), “Every new beginning was some other beginning’s end.” Whether or not you appreciate that song from the late 90’s, those words are fascinatingly simple and completely true.

The opportunity, or positive outcomes, that can present themselves when abrupt change occurs can prove to be extremely difficult to recognize when we are in the midst of finding our way again. It is hard to imagine what will be next. Some of us may have experienced the death of a loved one, and now we might be faced with circumstances like job loss, loss of our home, or the end of a relationship. In the moment, it is difficult to see that those endings can be used to prepare us for, or to help us appreciate, what is next. I have had doors open for me. I have built my own doors. I have even savagely kicked some doors open… I have slammed some. And, let me tell you, I have been shoved out of others; the wind from the closed door blowing past me before I could even get up and dust myself off. But, I am glad I tried. I am glad I had the experience. I don’t assume much about life anymore, and I try not to allow fear to interrupt my passion for trying new things.

Each time we are presented with a closed door, or an end, we are offered a key to another door, another beginning. And, if the key isn’t offered, sometimes we have to make our own key or build our own door. Grasp this opportunity and use it as a chance to be brave and unafraid of what might be behind the new door. It may be painful. It may be uncomfortable. It may bring additional sadness. BUT, it’s EXCITING because it will be different. It will be challenging. It will be whatever we make it until another chapter starts from this new beginning’s end. We will grow from the experience. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I never experienced personal growth when I remained in my comfort zone. If you feel like you might be suspended in your comfort zone, I suggest that you challenge yourself. Run through a new door at full speed with only a little hesitation in your heart, but none in your step. Be uncomfortable. Learn. Grow. Love. Cry. Laugh. Be careful, but don’t let the closed doors from your past dictate how you approach new opportunities in your future.

This applies to people, and the relationships we have with them, as well. Every human experience we have is unique. The people we meet each serve a different purpose. What I am saying here is that there is something to take away from every interaction we have. Some people cross our path to teach us, some to challenge us, some to help us, some to inspire… whatever their role in our life is, they can provide us with something we didn’t have before we met them… Experience… maybe even Wisdom. When we take the time to truly experience each other and genuinely learn from one another, we live.

Tough Guy


Following the losses I experienced, I felt it necessary for me to be a Tough Guy, or girl, in my case… for some reason, I felt I could not let people see the darkness that was taking over me. I was submerged and drowning in feelings of weakness and vulnerability; I was mentally confined in an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, anxiety, and desperation of finding something, ANYTHING that could even remotely resemble the life I had before I experienced loss.

I tried to approach life with a Business as Usual mentality. I found myself working all the time and scheduling events within 15 minutes of each other, just so I could avoid being alone. I laughed as often as I could and I made the best of the moments I had. Or, so I thought. I was so busy trying to live in the moment and be tough, that I did not allow myself to really feel. I did not honor my body or mind in its desperate need to be sad. And, because of that, I did not process the extreme feelings I was obligated to feel in the early stages of my grief journey.

When asked, “How are you doing?”, I could reply with blanket responses like: “I’m fine” OR “This has been a tremendous learning experience for me”. I was able to effectively push the people I increasingly needed away with those words, a reassuring look and a smile. As the conversation moved away from questioning my mental status, or as it ended and they walked away,  I’d think to myself: “Whew! They bought it!”. Little did I know, and maybe still lack to see at times, people see right through that Tough Guy act, and I wasn’t fooling many people. But, generally, human nature will suggest not to push, so I was able to go on with the Business as Usual approach a little longer.

I began grieving in, what I now know to be, unhealthy ways. I effectively numbed my feelings with alcohol and counterfeit connections. I stayed so busy, I never had to face myself… The relationships I had with close friends changed. The other tough guys I knew were soon repelling from me as like ends of a magnet do. We found ourselves growing more distant from each other, and the friendships we once had were nearly destroyed because we were each too stubborn to let people see how void of tough we actually were.

The reason I am sharing this with you is because the relationships you have may change and evolve, or they may completely dissolve. Either is OK. This is a time to focus on yourself. Figure out what you need to process the experience you have had and what you are going through. You need the support of people that can listen to you with no judgement, and appreciate that this is your journey. A journey only you can take. Unhealthy grief will only increase the time it takes for you to learn about yourself, and may inhibit you from effectively moving forward in your life.

People may surprise you in their supportive strength, so do not be afraid to reach out to someone who has offered to be there for you. While I would not suggest running up to everyone that has offered and breaking down at their feet, I would suggest having a safe person, or group of people, that you know have your best interests in mind to go to. These people have to be able to help you through some of the weakest moments you will experience. So, be selective and choose wisely.

You don’t have to be a Tough Guy. In fact, showing your weaknesses and making yourself more vulnerable will give you the character you need to be a true Tough Guy. Your sadness, anger, frustration (whatever it is you are feeling) is yours and you ARE allowed to scream and cry; do whatever you need to do to release those painful feelings. Honor yourself; honor your body and your mind. Let it pass through you as it should. You need this time of weakness and vulnerability to be both physically and mentally healthy. Love yourself the way you deserve to be loved. Love yourself the way THEY loved you.

As long as I live you will live. As long as I live you will be remembered. As long as I live you will be loved.


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