2 Years…

I’ve learned a lot since May 30, 2019.

I’ve learned that grief cannot be rushed, that you don’t wake up one day healed.

I’ve learned healing and closure are myths. Loss forces new adjustments to life.

I’ve learned it’s okay to put myself first and I’m not responsible for the feelings—or lack thereof—of others about MY loss.

I’ve learned it’s okay to say no… to everyone.

I’ve learned doctors don’t know everything, or when it comes to grief, anything at all.

I’ve learned who my true friends are.

I’ve learned I don’t have to feel guilty about laughing and enjoying myself.

I’ve learned loss doesn’t change the person I am.

I’ve learned it’s okay to laugh and cry at the same time.

I’ve been reminded how amazing my three children are.

And I’ve learned my grief journey can only be taken one day at a time, one breath at a time… even when it hurts.

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Happy Heavenly Birthday!

Where would I be without my children? They make everything better! ❤

Remembering their dad today on his birthday with another cake themed on his favorite show, “Archer” made by our always amazing friend and cake-boss, Elyse Martinez. (The red cake is from 2017 and he loved it! The flowers are from my sis, Melissa.)

Continue to rest in peace, babe. You are missed every day. ❤❤


Behind Every Cloud

silver lining

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Without a plan, outline, and most days, a clue, I’ve completed my first AtoZ Challenge! *Trumpet fanfare*

Taking it one letter at a time, and many deep breaths, I shared some of the feelings I’ve experienced since losing my husband and my mom in 2019.

Participating in the challenge gave me a measure of clarity and freed me of more anxiety than I thought possible.

But it also did something else.

It had me in front of my laptop writing! *The crowd gasps*

With more than a few sequels and wips in progress, I’ve accomplished nothing in the last two years.

But grief didn’t suddenly strip me of the desire to write.

Den and Mom were my two biggest cheerleaders, and the last thing they would want is for me to stop writing.

However, slowly over time, the ability to write left me like a slow leak until I was empty.

I tried, with no success.

So I was little more than a house plant that read books.

Then, fellow blogger/author, Marquessa, hosted a March Writing Challenge and I joined AND completed it.

For very personal reasons, I was motivated to join and complete the AtoZ Challenge, which as of today, gives me SIXTY-TWO consecutive days of writing! *And the crowd goes wild!*

Not a biggie for some, but HUUUUGE for me at this point!

What will I write about tomorrow?

I have NO idea!

But there will be writing!

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PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge Z is For Zero

zero

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There are zero days left in April.

There are zero days left in the challenge… that I never intended on entering!

And I have zero regrets about any of it.

I’m not going to lie, It wasn’t easy.

There were days when I wanted to close the laptop and hide.

But I’d quit enough times. It was time to see a project through to its completion.

And  I did.

I won’t say things like, “It healed me,” or “I had a life-changing revelation,” or “The heavens opened to a choirs of angels singing.” But sharing my grief journey this month has helped.

Den’s birthday and the second anniversary of his death are both in May. They haven’t been easy days in the past, and may not be easy this year, but I’ll face them both with a sense of gratitude and hope for the future instead of heartbreak and hopelessness.

I hope blog visitors on their own grief journeys found some solace here, and those who aren’t perhaps found some understanding.

If you have an #AtoZChallenge I missed, please leave a link in the comments and I’ll stop by.

🙂

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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#AtoZChallenge Y is For Yesterday

photo album

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It’s been twenty-three months since Den died.

Sometimes it feels like an eternity.

Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

It feels like yesterday I was making enchiladas for Den’s favorite day, Taco Tuesday, while he sang a rendition of Luther Vandross’ Here and Now that so was bad, it made Max howl.

I seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the mortuary conference room, barely able to breathe, making Den’s final arrangements.

Both of those days happened in the same week.

I remember the yesterdays that hold the births of our three children, birthdays, anniversaries, school events, family get-togethers, medical issues, arguments, disagreements, and wacky in-laws that fill more than thirty-five years of marriage.

There are times it hurts to remember yesterdays, but I’m grateful for those times too.

They remind me to cherish each day and make a new memory with those I love so we’ll have more happy yesterdays.

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge X is For Xenas

strong woman

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Okay, this isn’t a post about Xena, Warrior Princess! 😀

But then again…

A xenas is a strong, confident woman, so maybe we can take something from Xena.

Though my parents raised my sisters and me to be strong, confident women, the day I lost Den, I lost my strength too.

I was easily confused, would lose my train of thought, and couldn’t make a decision to save my life.

I doubted and second-guessed myself on things as simple as monthly bills, and began to avoid situations where I’d have to make decisions.

When I could no longer put off the dreaded trip to Social Security, I made an appointment, slipped Den’s death certificate into my bag and braced myself.

It turned out to be one of the brightest moments I’d had since Den died.

Mr. L wasn’t simply an overworked, underpaid paper shuffler.

He was a kind, compassionate professional who obviously had empathy for the dozens of people he helped every day.

Mr. L didn’t stare at a document or his computer screen. He’d printed out the documents he’d need for my appointment, positioned them so we could both see them, and what I believed would be a ten-minute, stressful ordeal was instead an uplifting experience which lasted almost an hour.

When I lost Den I also lost more than half my monthly income, and from the past experiences of family and friends, I knew Social Security wasn’t always female-friendly to married women (or widows). My mom was the only female I knew of who’d actually come out on the plus-side.

So, I steeled myself, ready to eat meat only on days with R’s in them, beans on days with S’s in them and buy store brand toilet paper. 😀

However, after Mr. L explained it all to me, I saw I was going to be okay, with no drastic changes even though I hadn’t reached retirement age. I wouldn’t have to choose the store brand toilet paper. YAAY!

(DISCLAIMER: I had NO idea hoarding toilet paper was on the horizon.)

I came away from the appointment feeling lighter, a burden lifted off my shoulders.

Simply because a kind man treated me with respect and dignity, and like an adult.

Because I AM an adult!

DUH, Felicia!

Months of soft voices asking childlike questions came crashing back. I was about to get heated in the parking lot.

How dare anyone treat me like-…

Then I realized how I’d been acting.

But no more!

Den always said one of the things that first attracted him to me was that I was take no prisoners ballsy!

I still consider it a compliment.

This grief journey is not just about learning to navigate life alone with a broken heart.

It’s also about not allowing grief to change or define me.

I am a strong, confident woman, regardless of what life tosses at me… a xenas.

Maybe the Warrior Princess and I do have something in common.

And I love her boots! 🙂

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge W is For Wound

wounded

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A longtime friend checks in on me frequently and always greets me with, “How are ya’ healing?”

I appreciate his time, and the fact he acknowledges my grief from the beginning, allowing me to guide the conversation.

His greeting got me to thinking one day.

How AM I healing?

Am I 10% healed? 23%? 47%? Will I ever be fully recovered?

Of course not.

I  believe healing is an ongoing process.

I’ll never get over losing Den, but the wounds to my heart and soul will heal on the surface, and leave scars that protect my inner wounds… and remind me of the love we shared.

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by Shad0wfall from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge V is For Victory

victory

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In life you have to claim your victories where you can.

That goes doubly so after the loss of a loved one.

Make it through an entire day without crying? Win!

You can look at their empty chair at the dining room table without losing your appetite? Win!

You can face a birthday/anniversary/holiday without having a complete emotional breakdown? Double win!

Personally, I counted it a win after I could open the closet where Den’s clothes still hang… and not smell them.

Like I said. Claim your victories where you can.

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by Shad0wfall from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge U is For Useless

useless

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If you’ve been following my journey from the beginning, you’ll remember I mentioned irrational feelings after suffering a loss.

Well, feelings of uselessness are close to the top!

From the moment Den was pronounced by the paramedics, I felt like I should be doing something else.

Weird, right?

As the living room filled with people, family members told me I was trying to offer every one coffee, only to be led back to the recliner.

I now know I was in shock that day. However, those feelings still rear their head.

Most of my regular day included doing something for Den.

With those tasks taken from me, I felt lost, not knowing what to do. Useless.

I don’t have those days as often, but now I see them for what they are, and I take deep breaths… breathing through the moment.

I know I’m not useless or worthless.

I’m a widow.

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge T is For Time

pocket watch

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A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Time Heals All Wounds

Time Will Reveal

Wasting Time

Behind the Times

The Time is Now

We share many cute little idioms about time, and we feel like we’ve said something very wise.

But we’re still in a hurry to get to the next thing.

Pandemic aside, Americans stress themselves out with too many self-imposed deadlines.

We pack our planners, and schedule meetings on weekends.

We take our families to the Grand Canyon or Disney World once a year, then come back home and start all over again.

As children grow and leave home, we want their childhoods back.

We lose parents, and want to kick ourselves for choosing Netflix over calling mom.

We lose a spouse or partner and are heartbroken over all the things we’d planned to do one day.

There are two truths about time. It passes, and you can never get it back.

Slow down and look around at what you’re missing.

Reorganize your priorities so you’re giving your loved ones quality time, not whatever time you have left.

Only then can you learn to appreciate time.

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

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