Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Sneak Attack

rain on mephoto © 2010 Andreas Firyn | more info (via: Wylio)

One thing I've noticed as time goes bye, is that I will be having a pretty good day and then smack, something happens to trigger a memory and the tears start to roll.  I call this the sneak attack.  These sneak attacks happen out of the clear blue.  The other day I was shopping at Target and my day had been tear free.  I get to the checkout line and the girl at the registers name is Erica.  Something simple like a name tag made me shed a few tears.

When dealing with grief I've noticed that everyone handles things differently.  The sneak attacks that bother me may have no affect on someone else.  I think it goes back to the relationship and circumstances surrounding your loved ones passing.  The difference with these two components may make grieving easier or harder for each person connected to an individual who's passed away. 

There is no magic formula to keep the sneak attacks at bay.  I imagine with time they will happen less frequently however, I doubt that they will completely stop.  My solution has been to find something positive and redirect my thoughts.  This too shall pass and tomorrow is another day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Blame Game

New Girls in the Morning Mistphoto © 2008 Amanda Slater | more info (via: Wylio)When someone you love passes away you may find yourself playing this game.  The blame game works like this:  If I had only called my Sister the day she died maybe I could tell by the sound of her voice that she didn't feel good and I could have prevented her death.  Now, I know that my Sister was smart, she was taking classes to be a nurse.  She realized something was wrong and called for an ambulance.  But my mind goes to this place of blame.

The reality is my Sister and I rarely called each other on the phone.  So why would I have called her on that day?  Maybe I feel that my intuition should have alerted me that something was wrong with Erica.  Here's another one:  If I would have gone home the weekend before to watch her daughter show her sheep maybe Erica would still be alive.  As if we would have had a conversation about the antibiotics she was taking and I would have told her to stop.  Yeah, that wouldn't have happened.  So why do I feel the need to blame myself?

My answer to my own question is this:  It's my need to feel in control.  I would like to think that somehow it would have made a difference.  In reality I was not in control.  Ultimately each of us has an influence and we steer our ways through life but we're not in the drivers seat.  We are passengers trying to live our lives the best we can until we reach our final destination. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thirty-Seven Nights

Blue Night Skyphoto © 2009 Flavio | more info (via: Wylio)It has been thirty-seven nights since Erica passed away.  The days are filled with work and responsibilities.  But when I stop moving and rest my head on the pillow, thoughts of Erica enter my mind.  Last night I was picturing the last time I saw her.  What she was wearing, the smile on her face, and where we were.  Naturally I start to cry.

Each week a little healing occurs.  But each night continues to be a struggle.  It's been said that time is a great healer.  I don't believe we are truly ever "healed" from a loss of a loved one.  I believe we may come to terms with it, accept it, and have faith that everything will be okay.  But some hurt will still be there. 

As each night passes I will grow a little stronger.  When the sun rises I will be grateful for what the day will bring.  Each of us are blessed we had Erica in our lives.  If only for a little while. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nothing Prepares You

White Roses in the Rainphoto © 2009 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)My life has not been pain or loss free. Almost all my grandparents have passed away, along with other family members and a few friends. One might think that with each loss you gain some strength to deal with the next. I wish that were true. Each relationship and circumstances surrounding your loved ones will be different. My Dad's Mother died of cancer. We watched as she suffered and physically became frail. I remember feeling a sense of relief when she passed, because she was no longer suffering. We had time to prepare for her departure. That still didn't make it easy, but the circumstances in her life were different.

When my Mother's Father passed away it happened suddenly. He went in for an angioplasty procedure and was in the recovery room when a blood clot went to his heart and killed him. I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotion, uncontrollable tears and I almost couldn't breathe. When my Mom called me about Erica, you can multiply my emotions to my grandfathers death by about six times. I would classify it as hysterical. Nothing prepares you for the news of losing a loved one. Before Erica's passing if I would have tried to image how I would feel if she passed away, I wouldn't have even come close. The circumstances surrounding her death seem so senseless and completely unexpected. I could not have prepared for this. The what ifs, whys, and regrets are almost too much.

Will I emerge as a stronger person from this experience? I hope so. Will it prepare me for the next time I lose a loved one? Doubtful.

Quote: The soul would have no rainbow, had the eyes no tears.
                              ~John Vance Cheney

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Lesson Learned

Hearts (Explored!)photo © 2008 QThomas Bower | more info (via: Wylio)In my blog titled, The Nights are Hard, I mentioned how some lessons in life are learned the hard way.  I want to share with you one of the lessons I've learned through Erica's passing.  Shortly after Erica gave birth to her first daughter, Erica was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve of the heart.  From that point forward Erica saw a Cardiologist every couple of years.  At some point in her life there was a possibility she would have to have the valve replaced.  She was having it monitored and her prognosis was good. 

My parents knew what the complications of her condition could be, and one was an aorta aneurysm.  Their worst nightmare became that they could lose Erica suddenly without warning.  I guess I was living in my positive, Erica will be fine world.  Because I didn't realize how severe it could be.  I figured at some point she would need heart surgery, but she could live to be fifty before that happened.  I never prepared myself that Erica could die suddenly.  Especially from something not heart related (as far as we know at this point). 

 It is safe to say that after Erica's diagnosis her approach to life changed.  She was more spontaneous and she lived for the here and now.  She did what she wanted to do.  I know she worried about dying at a young age.  This brings me to the lesson I've learned:

Sometimes we get so busy worrying about the things we can't change that we forget to focus on the things we can. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Loss of Control

Faithphoto © 2010 runran | more info (via: Wylio)By nature I'm a planner.  I like to know what I'm going to do in advance.  Spontaneity is not my style.  I usually have a back-up plan, if plan A falls through I go with plan B.  So I can tell you, the stark reality that everything is not in my control is hard. 

After my great-grandfathers funeral, I told myself I needed to spend more time with my sister and my family.  Then not even two weeks later my sister is gone FOREVER.  How can this be?  I didn't plan for this, I have no plan B.  My security that life will continue on as I had planned, is gone.

One of my husbands co-workers loaned me a book to read.  The book, Where Is God When It Hurts? by: Phillip Yancey, made a great point.  Situations are what they are; what matters is how we respond to them.  The idea that we can figure out the whys of Erica's death is not what we should focus on.  The focus needs to be on what we do from this point forward.  I'm going to start with placing more faith in the plan God has for me.     

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Order of Things

Tea Mountain: Pathphoto © 2007 Jakob Montrasio | more info (via: Wylio)
As the oldest sibling in my family there were certain things I expected to do first.  Get married, have children, the typical things girls think about.  Well, I should have told Erica.  She, being the middle child, also wanted to do things first, and she did.  She got married before me, had two children before me, and it seems, her last act of defiance was dying before me.  I can tell you there was a time when I harbored some resentment.  But now it seems petty and I see it from a different perspective.  She didn't take anything from me.  Her path was shorter than mine, so she got a head start.  If she had waited on me to have children we wouldn't have her two beautiful daughters.  So, things were as they were meant to be.  Each of us has a path to follow.  Erica followed her own path and made her mark on this world.  I miss you!