Everyone has their own kind of therapy when someone they love passes. Mine was tattoos. It was nice to sit in a room and feel a different kind of pain, a kind that I could control. Physical pain seems to be so much easier than mental pain. So over the course of six months I filled my entire left arm with different things that reminded me of Joey. At the top there's a lion that represents him. Then there is a gypsy woman who represents the fact that nothing is permanent. Under her is Peter Pan and Tiger Lily. This is one of my favorites because everyone thinks Peter Pan loved Wendy but he didn't. He loved Tiger Lily, the girl who was willing to drown for him. After that is a bouquet of flowers one for each child, myself, and Joey. On my inner arm is a portrait of Joey. And finally above that is a copy of his writing from a card he gave me that says, " I love you. Your husband Joey".
This is my story forever written on my arm. But with displaying your life in this manner comes questions. People want to know who the man is or what this represents. I often give them a short answer and move on. I realize that it is my own fault for displaying my life so visibly. But it's also to my discretion who I choose to share it with.
Saturday night while at work a man asked me about them. For whatever reason I was willing to share some of my story with him. I got told the same thing most people say when they hear the truth. "I don't know how you do it". And I gave him the answer that I normally tell people. "What is the other option".
Did you know "post-traumatic growth" is actually a thing? A friend mentioned the concept to me recently and I made note of it, thinking it was a clever concept invented by us grief sufferers, but when I typed it in a search online, a bunch of very real psychological studies came up.
Mike used to say, repeating an oft-used phrase, that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. After he died I rebelled against this well-meaning wisdom he often delivered with a smirk, preferring instead, in those early days, to be dead myself, as you might understand, thinking in no way could I ever want to be any stronger, the grief being so dire.
...is just one month away.
July 13th, 2011, is the day that rocked my world forever. That is the day that my dear, sweet husband died very suddenly of a massive heart-attack at age 46, after only 4.5 years of a beautiful and loving marriage together. In 2012, I started the first ever PAY IT FORWARD FOR DON SHEPHERD DAY. My husband was the most kind and selfless person I have ever met, and his love for all things music and animals was like nothing I have ever seen. He loved to take care of people and animals, and make sure they were safe, and his passion for all things music, especially guitar, was truly a beautiful thing, and was what originally brought us together. He was amazing.
Pay it Forward for Don Day not only helped me get through the horrors of reliving that awful day that he died, but it has also helped many other people, in his name. It is something I will do every single year, on July 13th, for the rest of my life. In the past 5 PIF events, over 150 people participated in this day each time, sharing their stories of kindness in words and pictures, all around the world.
Return to me…
Please come back…
Return to me, with your strong arms
That wrapped round me…
And made me feel safe and secure
No matter what was going on around us.Read more
“Share your memories! (3 years ago)” Yeah, that’s what Facebook likes to do to me every year on June 9th. It helpfully pops up a notification, showing me a picture I took on that date in 2014, that I might like to share with the world. It’s such a heartwarming gesture by the team at Facebook (or timehop, or Google Photos, or any other “assistant” service, really) to helpfully suggest that “Hey there, old buddy! Looks like you had a big moment 3 years ago that we’re so sure you remember that we’re going to assist you in making sure EVERYONE remembers it!”
It’s a picture of Megan, in a colorful gown.
Tomorrow marks the first day of the summer session for my eCourse that I am teaching now for the 3rd time. I create this class last year as a way to share much of what I had learned in my own grieving process about creativity. For four weeks, my students will be diving into lessons and creative prompts in writing, photography, and painting, with the purpose of expressing their grief and honoring their story and their loved ones.
Teaching is not a natural role for me, in fact it still makes me quite uncomfortable. I’m a writer, and that is where I feel most at home in sharing ideas. And while my course is mostly written, it does require interacting in a Facebook group and some video recordings. In other words - it requires me to be vulnerable too. Ugh!
So far, each time I run this course, there is a part of me that resists the call to be vulnerable. Maybe it’s that part of me that wishes she didn’t have all these lessons to share. The part of me that wants to just be “normal” and be doing work that is in no way related to grief. The part of me that is always a little bit scared to connect to others at first.
But then I get emails from women who want to sign up, but are nervous and need a little encouragement. Or from women who are in a bad spot financially and wondering if there is some way they can take the course still. Or women who have had major losses that were not loved ones, and wonder if the course will apply to them. They share a little of their stories with me before even beginning the class… and I am reminded of what an honor it is to be in the space of those who are grieving. I am reminded of how incredibly brave these people are - how much courage and strength and energy it takes to say “yes” to something like an eCourse when you are deep in your own pain. I am reminded that they are willing to be vulnerable with me… and suddenly I realize I have no choice but to be vulnerable with them too. Suddenly I am reminded of how precious it is to share that kind of true vulnerability with another person. Most of all, it reminds me of all the women I met the first time I went to Camp Widow - the ones that showed me the way and gave me hope. The ones that held a lantern along the dark and terrifying path of grief for me, so that I did not have to walk completely alone in the dark...Read more
Heartache she can feel not just in her bones but within every inch of herself. Pulsing through her like rapids over a fall. A heaviness that holds her heart with every thought of loss and of love and the thoughts can be so consuming. Love is glorious, beautiful and healing, to lose love is the painful part.
Memories, she replays. Sweet, soft and now stagnant in time. Images of thier smiles together, of comfort, peace, laughter, thrills and joy. Images of life, of love. Memories, that in the moment that they were made, showed a world of possibilities. A future that could have, would have and should have been. Those moments of love and life at one time filled her heart with hope, with expectations, with an idea that their life would be full of those moments.
because I really do want to know,
will there ever be a time,
when something goes wrong in my life,
when a relationship ends,
or someone else breaks my heart,
or I lose a job opportunity,
or something happens with my health,
or I continue to struggle financially,
or my parents get sick,
or my kitties die,
ANY ENDLESS NUMBER OF THINGS ........Read more
I saw my therapist today, for the first time in about two years, we figured. She was the one who first helped begin to lift me out of the fog in those early weeks and months after Mike's death. She knows my story, knows me. I had been thinking of her a lot this year, with all the issues and decisions I am facing, and low and behold, I literally ran into her on the sidewalk in our little town last week.
I figured, well, that's a sign. She had moved offices, and I couldn't find her after searching online. But she appeared anyway. So I made an appointment.
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a Love story…my Love story….a Love story that lasted for 24 earthly years.
My Love story taught me how to trust, it taught me how to love passionately while keeping my own identity, it taught me how to open myself to another person, how to ignite my passion, and how to knock down old walls that no longer served me.Read more