My heart aches for you and your family. I really dropped my bundle when I learned of Connie’s passing on Friday night. Today my sister Wendy would’ve turned 42. She died four years ago, aged 37, leaving behind two awesome daughters, a loving husband, and an army of friends and family. I feel your pain.
I’d like to tell you that the pain of grief gets easier, but grief is a different ride for everyone. I’ve never been good at hearing ‘stay strong’ or ‘she wouldn’t want you to feel this way.’ I don’t want to feel this way either, but my sister died and it hurts; she was awesome and now she’s not here and frankly it sucks a big one.
A couple of months after Wendy died, I saw my psychologist. She had seen me through my marriage ending, so I thought I should check in with her. The most valuable thing she told me was not to wait to feel better about my sister dying, but to instead make space in my heart for where that pain sits. I will never be OK with my 37 year old sister dying, so there was no point waiting to feel better about it. I cannot tell you the sense of relief that permission gave me. To this day those words sit with me. I feel the big stuff, and then get on with it. I might view life through a shattered lens, but I give it a red hot go. I enjoy life because I know how blessed I am to have it. I celebrate birthdays because getting older is a privilege not afforded to everyone.
How Samuel lives with so much sadness and spends his time being there for others dealing with cancer. Post continues below.
When Wendy was going through treatment, there were times she was in hospital for days on end, and couldn’t feel the sun or breathe fresh air. I remember sitting with her on a bench seat outside the hospital one day after one of these stints and she closed her eyes, tilted her head to the sky and felt the sun on her face. We sat in silence, feeling the sun, breathing the air. I do the same thing whenever I can, feeling it for the both of us.
I try to do some of her favourite things sometimes too, like eating mint choc-tops at the movies. She loved that. As a single mum, I don’t get to the movies often, but when I do, I get stuck into a mint choc-top for Wendy. Since today is her birthday, I’ll have a margarita and some turkish delight for her too. She didn’t drink much but she loved a good margarita. Truth be told, I don’t need it to be 9th September for a margarita!
I remember reading once about the wave of grief and how it is pretty continuous for a while, but then there becomes space between the waves before the next crash. It rang true for me. I don’t cry every day anymore, and sometimes now the memories make me smile instead of bawl. For at the least the first two years, when something major would happen, or something funny happened that I HAD to share with her, I still went to call her. I’ve bawled on many a street when it hit me that I couldn’t call her. Don’t feel crazy if that happens to you too, I hear it’s pretty common for those of us familiar with the grief train.