“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
This month's blog feature was going to be all about our family mini-vacation and how incredible it was. It certainly was a special time that I spent with my husband, Dad, children, cousins, and Aunt. However, it is still undeniable how the sting of sickness and death can impact you.
Last week Friday on our way to our family retreat we received the devastating news that my husband's first cousin (they are the same age… just tragic) fell asleep in death. We lost our cousin, children lost their father, a sister lost her brother, and a mother lost her son.
We decided we weren't going to back out of our trip because we were already too far gone. We opted to continue to take the time to rest and pause. Did it eliminate the knots in our bellies? No…but it allowed us to re-center on the present and what our family needed the most….time focused on loving each other.
Unfortunately, I was to receive news that same weekend that my mother's last remaining sister and her best friend (they seriously look like twins) was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with terminal cancer. As the quote from Vicki Harrison reveals, grief can sometimes come in overwhelm. At this time, I am overwhelmed with grief. Grief in the loss of time, dreams, and the people from my childhood who you never envision being in a weakened state let alone one day sleeping in death. Even after five years, I am still grieving the loss of my mother and this past weekend brought all of my feelings to the forefront.
Here is where I value the growth I've had in the last few years. Trust me, I wanted to wallow in my own misery because when I go there…I REALLY go there.
Instead we chose to swim, re-center, and focus on the fact that our family needed a break and this much needed rejuvenation. We spent time together, laughed, rested, tried new things, walked, slept some more, and documented our love for one another in timeless photos taken by Kate Greenawalt Photography (sneak peek above, more photos will be posted on my Facebook page).
This week I've kept my obligations for teaching at the Baltimore City Department of Social Services where I volunteered my time as a Maryland State ACES Master Presenter. I left feeling inspired and motivated by my time spent with angels who help support our youth or adolescents in social services, juvenile services, and foster care. We discussed trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACES), epigenetics, ACEs relation to susceptibility to disease or at-risk-behavior, and what we each can do to build the narrative of hope and resiliency for all. It was uplifting and inspirational to co-facilitate this discussion with Amie Myrick, MS, LCSW, the Director of Education and Training with the Family and Children Services.
Today, I am heading with my whole family in tow to Luzerne College to speak Friday to over 340 dental professionals about Diversity and Substance Use Disorder. Helping professionals make greater impacts in the most vulnerable communities in which they may serve is a gift and honor to me. Essentially without them knowing they are truly helping me. Helping me to move through my grief and keep focused on what matters. Mindfully choosing what's important, helps us remain determined that we will never allow grief to paralyze our family or stop us from loving on those who still very much need us in the present and to support those who need it the most.
This weekend, this month, this year, and as long as I have breathe in my body, I will always, always keeping pushing through, keep swimming and taking the necessary pauses in our lives. My struggles with grief, depression, or anxiety are conquerable.
Make memories with the people whom matter…
Never give up…
Carry on their legacy…
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