Promises to Keep



My Grief Journey

I know death and dying are a part of life and in 2005 when my father, Edward passed I was prepared. He had been ill for a long time and although I missed him his death ended his suffering and it made it easier to accept.  In 2010, though when my brother Tom passed from a brief illness I began to realize the true meaning of grief. He was my younger brother and I just assumed he would always be around. It was difficult but before I could catch my breath in 2011 my daughter Krista who was 8 months pregnant was told by her doctor that her baby had died in her womb.

Heartbroken my family and I went to the hospital where she was set to deliver and during the process the doctors came out and told us our daughter was very ill. The diagnosis AML leukemia and they did not expect her to survive the delivery. Our little Anthony was born, perfect in every way, he had passed on and now Krista was in the fight for her life. Because she was so sick my husband and I had to plan the funeral arrangements for Anthony and all I can say is that it was surreal. Thanks to many miracles along the way including a bone marrow transplant Krista survived and is doing well. In 2012, my mother Filomena passed. Still reeling from the loss of Tom and Anthony it was like I just couldn’t compute what was happening.

Christmas time 2013 and my husband, Den as I called him, hadn’t been feeling well. He went to the doctor’s and got a dire diagnosis. Lung cancer stage 4. I am going to admit here and now I went into denial. Our doctor was optimistic and my husband was as well but I knew just like I had intuitively known Krista would make it that Den would not. Again we had blessings as Den survived longer than the statistics said he would but in October of 2016 he died.

This was the biggest blow to me. I met him at the age of 15 and we had been married 45 years. I loved him and Den was my best friend. When he died I felt like a piece of me was missing. The first year I was in shock and much of it is a blur. I focused on his businesses and my daughters putting my needs as a last priority. I started doing some writing on Facebook about what I was experiencing and found that many people out there were going through similar experiences. I began to formulate a plan, a GPS for my journey that would guide me on the days that I was depressed, overwhelmed, angry or frankly just didn’t want to get out of bed. I found weekends were especially hard for me because Den and I would always have date nights and it was our time to be together. I had friends who wanted to keep me busy but I was most comfortable doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it and not be forced into anything else.

I admit there were times I became a bit of a hermit and I knew my loved ones who passed would not be pleased. That was my motivation to do something. I came up with a list of little promises I made to myself to do things that would get me out and enjoy myself. I started with those lonely weekends. At first it felt odd to be alone at the movies or a restaurant but little by little I began to enjoy it. I discovered other self-care niceties I could do as well. When I realized these were helping me I wanted to share them and Grief Reliefs was born. I am still using these ideas or “promises to myself” I like to call them. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a “little help from my friends” and although they’re geared for a grief journey I use them whenever I need to focus on me.
May Grief Reliefs help you on your unique grief journey as they have helped me.