Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Personal Thumbprints....

I’ve been thinking a lot about the act of grieving. Oh, I know. Big surprise. As the month of December moves closer to the 29th, the one year anniversary of Jillian’s death, I’m thinking about those who are dealing with loss.  Especially this time of year. As others are making joyous preparations for the holidays, there are just as many that don’t feel like participating in festive activities because they're grieving.

 The loss and grief may be that of a loved one who won’t be joining them this year for Christmas. It may be grief from a cancer diagnosis as they deal with the loss of innocence in the knowledge that life will never be the same.  Maybe it’s the loss of a job, or it could be the loss of a relationship, the breakup of a marriage. 

Mourning. It’s a pretty big deal! Stop for a minute and think about it. For years there have been customs and traditions surrounding the bereaved. There is something to this thing, and our society feels the need to rush the process. Why is that? I don't know, but I don't like it. 

In the United Kingdom widows were expected to wear special clothes to indicate they were in mourning for up to four years after the death.

In areas of Russia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain, widows will wear black for the rest of their lives. The immediate family members of the deceased will wear black for an extended period of time. 

Some cultures require wearing black for at least two years. Other cultures hang black wreaths on their doors.  

There are many different ways people move through the grieving and mourning process. None of them are wrong. Grieving is as individual as your own thumbprint.

I've been like a sponge these past few months. I'm trying to soak in all  the memories of Jillian that I can. The good and the bad as I'm reminded of what took place at this time a year ago. Its a part of Jillian and her journey and demands remembering. 

There are some that may think I should try and push those difficult memories aside and focus on the happy ones. NO. For me, I'm doing it this way to honor and respect Jillian. It helps me to remember her fight and to reflect on how she loved and lived her life to the fullest. I'm doing the work now but that doesn't mean it's right. It doesn't mean it's wrong either. But its my way, and its right for me.

So if you know of someone suffering from loss this Holiday Season, the best thing you can do for them is to tell them you're thinking about them. Be gentle with your words. Give a simple hug. Ask a question or two about their loved one. I can assure you, it is their favorite topic.

Please don't tell them what they need to do, or what not to do.. Don't tell them where you think they need to be in their grieving process. Don't suggest that it's time to move on.You may end up with Eggnog on your lap. Your intentions may be admirable but it isn't what they need to hear.

You probably haven't seen that black wreath hanging on their door either, but it's there. My guess is that they are too wounded to point it out to you.   

As I was watching the snow fall gently to the ground today I felt "Joy". It's these moments I'm not taking for granted. I haven't forgotten what Joy feels like. I'll get there, promise. One snowflake at a time.



  1. Susan, I think about you every single day. Your posts touch more lives than you can imagine, more people than you will ever meet. You show us your strengths and your vulnerabilities. Thank you for words of wisdom as we travel this road.

    Pat Douglas

  2. Thank you for writing your thoughts so beautifully. They are always on point but this post in particular touched me deeply. I lost my brother this past March to Leukemia and your words ring true for my every-day struggle with grief and trying to find joy and peace.

    Peace to you and all who grieve this holiday season and always.