NoMoreTomorrows

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For These I Mourn

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How do I mourn for a place I’ve never been, a structure I never saw, in a time I never lived? Those are the thoughts that have been on my mind the last three weeks. What does it mean to mourn the destruction of the temples? I am only at the beginning of my Torah journey and my understanding, but I’ve had a few thoughts about it.

Without a temple we are scattered. We can find community within our individual temples and synagogues. We can worship together with others. But when I thought of the destruction of the temples, I thought of the destruction of unity among all those with a soul for Torah. Where do we go to be unified? And we see that we are not. Not in thought, not in action, not in heart. I mourn for the inability for all of us to be together, in physical proximity, in the land that is ours.

There are mitzvot we can no longer do because they require the Temple and it is not there. It feels like praying without a minyan. Incomplete. G-d hears the prayers that I pray when alone. And He sees the mitzvahs we are able to do, and honors them. But just like the prayers we can’t pray without a minyan, so it feels when we are not able to do what G-d has commanded we do when there is nowhere to perform those acts.

The mourning of the three weeks is not just about mourning the temples. There are other things that happened against the Jewish people historically during these three weeks, and in the nine days of the month of Av. And there continues to be plenty to mourn for today. Look around you and I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to find something to mourn for. Recently as I listened to a teenager speak, I was reminded of all there is to mourn for. Generations that have come so far from their intended target. The lives we live so hollow and dishonoring to who we were created to be. We have strayed so far from holiness and have lowered our standards to nothingness. We are quick to hurt each other, and slow to love. Indeed, there is much to mourn for today.

The Sages taught, “Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times” (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a). And therefore, I mourn the destruction of the temple. I mourn that it hasn’t been rebuilt. And the words in the Amidah ring ever so strongly in my heart.

“May it be your will, Adonai our G-d, and the G-d of our forefathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt, speedily in our days. Grant us our share in Your Torah, and may we serve You there with reverence, as in days of old and in former years. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Adonai, as in days of old and in former years.”

 

For those reading this blog who are interested in a further explanation of Tisha B’Av, the three weeks, the nine days, and the history and significance of this time, you can find information here

 

Written by No More Tomorrows

August 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

Posted in Being Mindful, Grief

For the Mothers Who Are, But Aren’t

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My first Mother’s day was May 2008. At that point, and  prior, Mother’s day was a  whole other concept for me. It was about life, mothers who had given life to children, and celebrating those women. I might have thought about bereaved mothers fleetingly, but I never really considered what a difficult day it must have been for those mothers who could not see and hold their children. I thought of the mothers whose children sent them cards and made them dinner and  finger painted messy pictures and gave hugs and snotty kisses.

I was in my second trimester with my son. I anticipated a lifetime of all of those things. I looked forward to all of the years I would spend with my son. I was  a mom, and the following mother’s day I would raising a 6 month old.

That isn’t how it happened, and now, Mother’s day has a very different feeling for me. I still celebrate the wonderful mother I have, and the friends and  family I have that are wonderful mothers to their living children, but more so I think about the mothers who are often forgotten. The ones who question if they can still call  themselves a mother, the ones who look longingly as their friends and family receive gifts from their children, and are  acknowledged by the world as mothers, and who never question how to answer when someone asks them if they have children.

Mother’s day of  2009 approached and I dreaded it. I asked  for the day off work. I readied myself to have a flood of emotions come over me.  They never came. I was at  peace that I was still a mother.  I  think another part of me realized that even if my son had lived, at 6 months he wouldn’t have realized what the day was. For the next couple years Mother’s day wasn’t as difficult of a day to get through as I thought it would be.

But there’s something about this year that is beginning  to change. Perhaps it could be that I’m missing the  Mother’s day hug of  a 4 year old boy who is starting to understand holidays and wants to make his  mommy feel special. Perhaps it’s because I’m turning 30 this year and starting to wonder if I will ever again feel the flutters of this precious child I helped create coming to life and growing within me. Perhaps I am beginning to  feel like time is running out. Perhaps it’s the world continuing to turn and  friends continuing to welcome  home baby two and three and four…

Or perhaps it is the weight of sadness that too many women face alone each day, and especially on Mother’s day. The women who have tried for months or years and yearn to  see those two lines on a pregnancy test. The women who have seen those lines and yet weeks or  months later endure a heartbreaking miscarriage. The women who  have felt  life within and yet have held death in their arms. The women who have  no living children and not only doubt if they can call themselves mother, but start to doubt if they can even call themselves woman, after  so  much devastating loss and a body that has failed them on countless occasions.

So this Mother’s day, while I do celebrate with all of you who are terrific mothers, forgive me if my love and attention goes more  towards those like me, who  try to stifle our jealousy, congratulate our mother friends like it isn’t sometimes the  most difficult words to utter, and wonder if the day will ever come that we know what it is like to hear a child call us mommy.

Written by No More Tomorrows

May 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Baby Loss, Grief

Weighing in on the Duggars

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There has been a lot of talk about the Duggar family lately, from becoming pregnant with their 20th child, to Michelle’s miscarriage, and their decision to take photographs of their daughter.  Let me just tell you, I’m tired of all the talk. This family has put themselves in the public eye, and I realize that means it opens them up to be talked about. But once again I am reminded that people oftentimes don’t think before they speak, and that many people have no filter, no concept that a public figure they are speaking about is an actual real person with human feelings and emotions. I think that’s the first lesson we should remember; “Famous” people are still people.

My opinion of the Duggar family isn’t that extensive. I don’t watch the show. I don’t know much about them, and I tend to, as a rule, not make opinions about things I don’t know of. How I wish more people followed that rule in their own lives. The one thing I have thought, and stated on one page that referenced Michelle and her miscarriage, is that I worry about her health these days. I would hate for something to happen to Michelle and for her to miss the chance to see her children grow up and her grandchildren born. That would make me very sad for that family. I don’t know much about the family but it is my understanding that they believe God will give them as many kids as He wants and will stop them from conceiving when He decides it’s time. I don’t personally agree with that belief, and I think it’s a dangerous belief to have. But that’s as far as I go with my opinion.

But it seems that everyone else has so many more opinions about this family, about how many kids someone should have, about their miscarriage being for the best, and about their decision to take photographs and share the photographs. There’s a bunch of people talking who have never experienced the loss of a child, and I think it’s about time people keep their opinions to themselves.

I remember the bereavement counselor coming into my room during my labor and telling me about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

(Clicking the image will take you to the About Us page of their website. There are no images on that page. If you navigate the site, you will see examples of the photography they provide. If these images will be distressing to you, don’t navigate out of the About page)

 

I remember at the time being disturbed that they would ask if I wanted pictures of my dead son. Why would I want them?  Every day since that moment I am so thankful that I said yes. Once my son was born and I left the hospital, I had already started to forget his precious face. With the gift that my photographer Scott gave me, I will never forget Damien’s face. I can look and see he has my face. I can remember. NILDMTS provided a priceless gift for me. I could never thank them enough.

There are many people who have never walked this road, and I respect that they don’t know what it is to grieve such a huge loss. I know there would be questions about why certain choices are made. What I don’t understand is why people take it upon themselves to judge how others grieve. I don’t understand why people think it’s their place to say hurtful things. I know that nobody knows the right thing to say when a baby dies. Let me let you off the hook, there’s nothing you can say. There’s no magic words. There are, though, a lot of things you can say that aren’t helpful. Please don’t preach to the family. Don’t tell them it was God’s plan. Don’t say God needed another angel. Don’t philosophize about why it happened or guess that maybe it was best and that there could have been something “wrong” with the baby. I think I could safely say most if not all mothers would rather have a special needs child they can hold in their arms than a baby they never got to know.  Regardless of what your faith is and what theirs is, don’t try to answer for why this happened. Just don’t. It’s not helpful. If they bring it up, then that’s a different story, but don’t insert yourself into that place without their permission.

What can you say? You can say you are sorry for their loss. You can say I love you. You can say you miss the baby/or you’re sorry you never got to know the baby. And if, IF you really really mean it, you can say that if they ever need anything that they can call. But if you’re not okay with being woken up at 3 am to a crying friend, ridden with anxiety and grief, don’t say to call if they need anything. Only say it if you mean it.

I’m tired of people pretending they know. “Well it was only a miscarriage”. “Oh, so your son didn’t actually die, you just lost a pregnancy.” “It’s wrong to grieve that way.” “Wasn’t that a year ago? You’re still dealing with it? Should you talk to someone?” “It’s for the best.”

I’ve heard some of those things about the Duggars. I’ve heard some of those things about me and my son. I’ve heard those things said to others. It’s hurtful, no matter who it’s said to or about, it hurts me to know that people are willing to say such hurtful things.  I think we can all do a better job at being sensitive to others’ pain.

Written by others:

Why did the Duggars photograph a stillborn baby?

Precious Photographs: An Open Letter to Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

 

 

Written by No More Tomorrows

December 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

Posted in Baby Loss, Grief

A Fund for Jennie

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I discovered internet communities very early on in the internet age. I was in high school and had joined an online community for Christian teenagers. I “met” some pretty amazing people on that site. I understood kindred spirits, or Soul Friends. It wasn’t weird to me to be talking to people in a box that I never met face to face. I was able to connect with people, my age, going through similar things as I was, talking about things I liked. It seemed so natural. It never seemed odd.

The first time I crossed the internet veil into in-person meeting was my sophomore year of college. One of the guys from that site went to a college not far from mine and we decided to go to a movie. Nothing romantic, just something to do. It didn’t seem odd to meet him. It made me nervous, because I didn’t know how an online friendship would transcribe in person, but it wasn’t weird. We had had deep conversations, meaningful conversations. I felt like I knew him, and that he knew me. We had fun.

Since then I have wondered into various dimensions of online communities, more message boards, blogs, dating sites, etc and found people I connected with. Some I have met face to face, some are still just internet friends until the day we pass each other’s way and I hope to share coffee or such with them. There are people who I have been on the phone with at 2 am crying my eyes out, or vice versa with me being the listening ear. There are people all over the world with whom I am totally in love with as people and some of whom I’ve never seen face to face. To some that would be odd, but I know there are those of you who understand.

This very idea has been put into practice recently via Bloggers Without Borders. I recently discovered a new blogger when others that I had read mentioned a woman in the blogging community who had just suddenly lost her husband. I went to her site and have been reading it all the time since, with a heart that breaks everytime I do. She writes beautifully, and she captures her emotions in a way that only the best of writers can do. In Jennie’s Kitchen used to be a food blog. If you go back in her archives you will see plenty of drool-worthy eats. But now she shares about her husband, the last memories she has of him, and the road she is now forced to walk without him. Bloggers Without Borders has set up A Fund For Jennie. It was not only Jennie who was left without her husband, but her two young daughters were also left without their father. The blogging community has pulled together to raise money for the family.

It’s a beautiful thing to see what others will do for people they’ve never met. I cannot tell you how many times I find myself grateful that the internet exists and that I discovered the many wonderful people who live in my computer. In times where we see how many selfish people there are in the world, it’s beautiful to see the light of the compassionate, making a difference in others’ lives.

I’d also like to ask my readers to take a look and see what you can do to donate for Jennie and her girls. And thank you for being a part of my story and of my journey. Thank you for sharing life with me.

Written by No More Tomorrows

September 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm

All Over the Place

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It’s not that I have nothing to say right now, it’s that I have too much to say, and I can’t really make sense of the mess in my head. No worries, the mess isn’t bad, it’s just chaotic. Ideas and thoughts and all that jazz. Because I can’t really make sense of what’s in my own head, today is going to be full of a bunch of links to things I think everyone should read. I hope to provide you with enough to carry through the weekend in case I don’t get back to you before then. Tomorrow is my friday and then I’m headed back to Kansas for my 10 year high school reunion.

WHAT?! How has it been that long already? Seriously. When did we all become grown?

10 years. Hm.. that just got me thinking of a post idea.  Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, what follows is gonna be others’ posts who have inspired me, not all has to do with weightloss stuff, but just life in general and inspiration in different areas. Please check them out. There’s so many cool people I’ve found in the blogosphere, and because some of them are doing this for their career (which I hope to be someday, soon) visiting their pages and such helps support their livelihood, and I’m ALL about supporting small businesses/self-employed peeps.

Ben Does Life Video Journey – The Do Life Movement started from Ben’s journey. He was in Denver Sunday and that’s how I ended up doing my first 5K.  Pretty awesome. And really, that’s what it’s about, doing life. I want to lose 180 pounds, and get out of debt, and have positive people in my circle, and do the job I love to do, all because I believe life should be lived loudly, however that translates for you. We should be our best selves, not what others expect us to be, not what we settle for being, not stuck because we’re afraid to move, but extraordinary, because life is short, and we should soak it all up while we can.

This is What it Looks Like – A 26 part (short posts, easy reads) series on love. Jasmine Myers of Eat Move Write lets us in on her journey of discovering love, for the man who would eventually become her husband and, ultimately, for herself. It’s beautiful. Truly. Our ability to love anybody else only truly comes after we’ve fallen in love with ourselves.

Jasmine’s Top Posts – (More from Eat Move Write) All pretty awesome. In fact, you really should just go to her page and use her drop down menu to go back in time and read everything she has written, and then start following her regularly. She’s taking a short pause from her blog, so you have time to catch up. She’s pretty awesome. I find it to be a beautiful thing when your spirit connects to another’s even when you’ve not met that person. I know that not everyone connects with the same people, but I think some of you definitely will.

Running is for Crazy People – A Guest Blog at Healthy Tipping Point talking about what her “tipping point” was. Everybody has a moment where they decide that enough is enough and kick it into gear. This was hers. And I enjoyed the read.

30 Lessons My Parents Didn’t Teach Me – Just a freaking awesome post that E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y should read. Seriously.

Dear Mom, I would give it all back – Warning. It made me cry. Post from Jen, founder of Prior Fat Girl, who lost her mom during her journey, on the day of her 2 year anniversary of healthiness, when she planned on celebrating her 100 lbs lost.  Another one, My mom is dead talks a little more about her journey after losing her mom, with coming to the point of learning how to live without her mom, and realizing it was something she had to do. People wonder how you survive something like that, loss of a young parent, a spouse, or a child. The answer is this, you just do. You wake up, get out of bed, and put one foot in front of the other.

Rachel Wilkerson’s Fourth Rule – Thou Shalt Own It. I truly believe this. Do not every apologize for who you are. That is living a life that is authentic, and that is the greatest gift we can give others, our authentic selves. That doesn’t mean being a jerk for no reason and treating others poorly. It means accepting who you are and not apologizing if you don’t fit a perfect mold that someone else has created for you. Rachel is definitely someone I enjoy reading. She puts it out there. Doesn’t apologize, and makes me laugh, A LOT.  Check out her top posts and her recipes.

Okay, I hope that has given you enough to tide over for awhile. Link us to a favorite post(s) you’ve read recently. Or a favorite blogger. I’m always looking for new people to follow, to be inspired by, to laugh with.

And I promise I will be back with more posts of my own soon. I have a lot of ideas floating around, just need to organize them.  I have a list of “to be written” posts.

Written by No More Tomorrows

July 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Strength in All Things

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I have doubted myself and what I can accomplish and get through for a long time. I have thought I was weak for a long time. I still do. I think about losing 180 pounds and it seems like such a big task, something I am not strong enough for.

And then I remember what I survived.

“To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

This is…

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive”

Natalie Grant – “Held”

 

I was single, unmarried, working part time and struggling to pay my own bills and put food in my own mouth, let alone two mouths. He was a product of lust, not love, something I never planned to have happen. It wasn’t my dream. It wasn’t ideal. But from the moment I found out that this life lived inside of me, he is all I wanted. I knew I would struggle, that we wouldn’t have an easy life, but all that mattered was this baby. I knew that no matter what happened from then on out, he would always come first, and I would make whatever sacrifice necessary to provide him the best life I could. I also believed that his father would do his best also, and that although we wouldn’t raise him together, that we would both do our best to raise him well. I’ve come to find out I was right about that. Sometimes that makes the pain that much worse, to know there are so many children whose parents spend more time fighting each other than loving their children, and then to know my son would have had all the love in the world from two parents, that although they didn’t love each other, respected each other and would have provided a peaceful and respectful atmosphere for him to grow up in.

I had plans, and dreams, and hopes. I dreamt the biggest dreams for him, and for my life also. All of a sudden I realized I needed to be the best mom he could have. I made goals to be healthy, to finish school, to get a good job that could provide for him and be stable. I planned. I dreamt. I hoped.

And on the afternoon of Wednesday November 5, 2008, around 1:30 in the afternoon, they were murdered. And I felt like I died right along with them.  I heard the words that no woman ever wants to hear.

There’s no heartbeat.

I didn’t need to hear the words, at least not really. Maybe I needed them just so that what I already saw was real, but I saw the ultrasound, I saw my son not moving. I heard the silence. Over the 40 weeks I had gotten used to what his beating heart looked like on screen. I had learned the difference between the swooshing of the ultrasound or heart monitor and his heartbeat. I knew what I was seeing when I looked at the ultrasound screen and didn’t see the movement that looked like the flickering of a light. He was gone.

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? Been hit in the gut?  It was like that, only not. It was a million times worse. It’s something I can’t really describe to you in a way you’d understand unless it’s happened to you, and if it hasn’t, I pray it never does.  My world stopped. I remember bringing my hands to my face to try not to scream as tears built up and spilled over. I held my breath and cried quietly, my body shaking, gasping to breathe, but trying not to make noise. I had two doctors in with me, they handed me Kleenex. I held my hands and the Kleenex over my face. (Even in a moment like that I was still worried about being seen doing the ugly cry. I really hate crying in front of people.)

I’m so sorry. Carrie I’m sorry.

They just kept repeating it. I guess even doctors, who I’m sure have seen it happen before, don’t know what to say in a moment like that. I remember watching Dr. Montgomery on Grey’s Anatomy breaking down when she had to tell a couple that their baby was dead. As critical as I can often be of doctors and the medical field in general, they do have hearts, and no matter how many times you deliver bad news, I can’t imagine it’s ever easy.

They asked me who they could call and I couldn’t even focus enough to answer. They said that Stacy was listed as the person to call in my file and I nodded when they asked if that’s who I wanted to call. They both left and I got off the table to get my purse and get my phone. My legs shook and I sat in the chair. As if on autopilot I started making phone calls. I called my boss at the time, who was a friend also. She sent someone to be with me since she couldn’t. Stacy also showed up.

My mind raced. It was like I was in a daze, but the thoughts still came.  What do I do now? What do I do with the baby stuff? How do I deal with this?  I need to breathe.  But how?

November 7 I met my beautiful son, and just as quickly as I finally got to say hello, I had to say goodbye. It is the hardest thing that I have ever lived through. It is a road I travel every day, a little bit further, a little bit easier. I have learned to live in a world where my son never got to. I have survived what would probably be every parent’s greatest fear. I am strong.

So why do I forget that so often?

Written by No More Tomorrows

July 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Baby Loss, Fear, Grief, Stories

The (Ab)Normalcy of Grief

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(I have gone back and forth about whether I wanted this blog to strictly be about my journey to get healthy or if I wanted to do as I used to do and have a catchall type blog. I have decided on the latter.)

Almost 4 years ago, before I ever became pregnant, I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I think it was in season 3. A woman and her husband were brought into the hospital because she had been showering and had fallen. Because she hadn’t felt the baby move, she figured better to be safe than sorry, even though she was sure that everything was okay. Dr. Montgomery performed an ultrasound and determined that everything wasn’t okay.  After crying in the bathroom and confiding to Dr. Torres that not everything was okay, she went back to tell the couple.  The woman was induced and gave birth to her stillborn baby.

I remember watching that episode and thinking “That’s unimaginable. I could never survive that. How do you even make yourself push knowing all the work of labor is going to be for nothing?” My thoughts about never being strong enough to handle something like that may have also been a silent plea to never have to find out it I could handle that. But that’s the thing with life, things happen to us whether we want them to or not. That is the world we live in. None of us are immune to tragedy. And I did go through it. My son didn’t die because of a fall. I have never been given the definite reason, only the likely cause, but I still went through what I thought I could never survive. But I did survive. The human spirit is able to withstand so much more than we allow ourselves to believe. None of us would choose hardship or tragedy, but we can make it past.

Grief is a strange and difficult thing, thus my title. There are losses that happen to us that are unimaginable, they’re not normal; it defies the way we believe life should go.  Young children shouldn’t die. Parents shouldn’t bury their children. Grandparents shouldn’t have to say goodbye to their grandchildren. That’s not how the order of life should go. But it happens.

When somebody dies, people tend to surround those who are grieving to offer support.  Food, help around the house or with the kids, words of support and comfort are all ways that people try to help those that are grieving. Most help is gladly welcomed and appreciated. Sometimes though, people with all the good intentions in the world do the most damage by not understanding how to help those who are grieving. That typically comes in the way of words.

Through my own tragedy I have come to realize how uncomfortable everybody is with death, with talking about it, thinking about it, and reacting to it when it occurs. Because of this discomfort, and because what happens after death is ultimately a mystery, we gather all these beliefs about death and tie them up in a pretty bow so that we can explain to those grieving why it’s okay that their loved one is gone. Those words often have the power to hurt more than they do to heal. I think that not only are people uncomfortable with death, but also with the depth and the rawness of emotion that can be felt when the impossible happens. It’s easier to paint a pretty picture over a situation to detach ourselves than to allow those intense emotions to sit with us.  Many people set a timeline on other’s grief, or try to say what is normal and abnormal. But I have come to learn a few things about grief: 1) Grief looks different on all of us, and cannot be compared, even if the situations are identical; 2) Grief has no time table.  Some aspects of our grief will be with us forever; and 3) Grieving is normal, even in abnormal circumstances, and the only time grief is too much and needs intervention, is in the event it’s causing the bereaved to be in a state where they may hurt themselves or others.

My grief has taught me many things about myself. There are moments that I think may be painful that really aren’t. There are also moments where I can’t explain why, but I’m hit with the pain and I can’t stop crying.  Grief gets triggered.  This past Friday, April 22, my hometown experienced a tragic loss when a private plane, carrying a family of 4, crashed. There were no survivors. A young and beautiful family was gone just like that. Though I didn’t know that family, I was triggered in a very real and very painful way.  I’m thinking of the two sets of parents who now understand what it’s like to have their children go before them, magnified with losing their grandchildren also. I’m thinking of the people in my hometown who have lost their neighbors, their friends, their coworkers, their students. There are not many people in the community, if any, that were not touched in some way by this family. The community is broken. Many people who I love very much are hurting in ways beyond imagination. What happened is not normal, but I assure you, any and all feelings that those who grieve are feeling, are absolutely normal.   My hope is that they will all allow themselves to feel those emotions and to not try to explain them away. No matter what anybody believes about death and Heaven, loss still hurts, and I don’t believe it’s wrong to let it hurt. Grief doesn’t mean we have lost faith, it just means that we were created as emotional beings, and when death disrupts our life, it hurts.

I hear people say to take it a day at a time. When it comes to grief, I’ve learned that sometimes a day is far too long. Sometimes you have to take it minute by minute. Don’t grieve how you think you’re supposed to, or how you’re told to. Don’t put a timeline on it. Just feel what you’re feeling in that moment and deal with your moments how they come at you.  And if you’re one that’s supporting those who grieve, I’m telling you the best thing you can say is oftentimes nothing. A lot of people offered a lot of advice and words that they thought would be comforting when I lost my son. Truly though most things just hurt more, or made me angry. The best thing, the most honest thing, that anybody said to me was when my sister told me she didn’t know what to say, and that she loved me. That’s all I needed.

I hope to be someone that breaks down the fear surrounding grief and death and that helps erase the stigma around emotions. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore to be around those who are grieving. I’ve come to understand how strong my spirit is, and that I can be strong enough for someone else, to allow them freedom to grieve as they wish safely and without judgment or expectation. My hope is that more people will learn that, without the cost of tragedy that it took me.


Written by No More Tomorrows

April 27, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Fear, Grief, Inspiration