Tag Archives: loss

What the death of my father-in-law taught me…


popsIt was a year ago today, I was working the evening shift at a job I absolutely hated. At about 6:00 p.m. I became violently ill and had to leave.  Before leaving work I returned to my desk, and saw I had 2 missed messages from Jason, but I didn’t response to them until I got  to my vehicle.   That’s when I got the frantic message from Jason to “GET HOME NOW!”

I tried calling his cell phone a couple of times, but he didn’t pick up.  So I called the house, where my oldest son answered the phone.  He said Jason was on his was to his parent’s house and had left the baby at home with him.  At that point I knew something bad had happened.  Jason’s step father, Joe had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 2 months prior and he had been traveling to Boston for treatments and doing well. I was 15 minutes into my 40 minute drive home, when Jason finally called me and told me that Joe had passed away.  I was in shock.  How could this amazing man so full of life, be gone?  We had just been at their house 2 days before putting up the Christmas tree.  We had family plans, he had grandchildren to play with and spoil, golf games to play, and so much more life to live.

This year has been a struggle and a blessing.  So many things have changed, I have experienced so much growth and Joe’s passing taught me some important lessons. Most importantly :

1.) Life is truly a gift.  In our every day life, there are so many struggles, from juggling work, home, kids, bills, and so many other responsibilities.  We forget how precious it is and the abundance of magic that surrounds us.  I now treasure the chaos and craziness of it all.  I love that my house is messy and there are dishes in the sink, laundry piling up, when before I would stress about it all.  Now a feel blessed that we have toys all over the floor which means I have a healthy active 2 year old using his imagination.  The dishes in the sink means I have the money to fill the belly’s of my family, and the 10 loads of laundry means the ability to be able to provide clothes for all of us.  And also that I have 13 year old daughter who needs a new outfit for every hour.

2.)The present moment is where life occurs.  I use to spend so much time, thinking of the past, the mistakes I had made, how or what I would do to fix them, and being full of regrets. The reality is, I could never go back or do anything to fix them.  This would only leave me feeling inadequate and depressed.  When I began living in the moment, I enjoyed being a mom even more, I felt connected to Jason, life was sweeter and less stressful.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days, loose my temper, or get sad.  That is what living in the moment is all about.  Just allowing the experience to happen and be with your feelings, good or bad. This is what makes you grow as a person.

3.) Allowing yourself to feel.  We live in a society where we are so quick to take a pill to numb the pain, or throw ourselves into work or other vices to distract  from what we really feel.  No one can ever heal this way.  We need to accept that it’s ok to feel sad, angry and alone when someone we love passes.  And that 3 day of bereavement time is NOT enough time to “get over” a loss.  I admit that it is scary to sit with your emotions and just allow yourself to feel the loss of someone you love.  Sometimes the pain can be so overwhelming.  But if you just sit with it and breathe through it, that’s when the real healing begins and you can release the pain.  I don’t think that feeling of loss ever goes away, but it becomes bearable.  Instead of being overcome with the pain, a shift  takes place and your are able to honor their memory by remembering the wonderful times you shared and what they offered the world.

4.) Being Fearless. No one is promised tomorrow! You can make excuses of why you can’t or don’t want to do things you KNOW will make you happy, or continue to not to participate in life, but where does that lead you?  To an unhappy, unfulfilled, lonely space and full of regret.  I wouldn’t do a lot of things by myself, because I was afraid to put myself out there.  I became very isolated and shut off from the world.  This year I began making myself attend workshops and events that I found interesting.  It was uncomfortable for me at first, but it changed my life.  I have created some magical friendships, I am now excited  to go places and do things I have never done before, and my confidence has grown. Life is too short to be unhappy, and to beautiful not to experience it.  Don’t let fear take it away from you.

So tonight I honor Joseph “Popo” Graham and thank him for touching my life and accepting me as part of your family.  Thank you for sharing your light and kindness with the world and with me.  I love and miss you…

honoring joe