Honoring My Grief

Something changed March 31st.

I didn’t think much of it at first until it was April 5 and I was still ‘down’ (exhausted, weak, unable to think clearly or make a decision) I’ve had those symptoms happen before. I struggle with them periodically, but I felt like I was doing better.

And then I wasn’t.

And I haven’t been all month.

I’ve done the things I have to do. I take an extra dose of the meds I need to manage ‘stress’ (that’s what you do when you have Addison’s disease, because my body doesn’t do that anymore.) I muster up enough energy to speak or teach or coach or write-

and then I sleep. A lot.

Being the question-asker that I am, I have tried to determine why I am ‘down’ and why for so long. I attributed it to some new meds I’m taking, or the weather change or … I have a rather long list of things I could mention here.

But then my husband says, “Kathy, it’s April.”

My friend says, “Kathy, it’s April”

My daughter says, “Mom, you do this every April.”

Do I? I began to think back. Yes, this started March 31st. Yes, I remember last year, struggling as well, though I spent a great deal of time in Texas last year after my father-in-law passed away. I felt a plethora of emotions, but …I didn’t realize that I have struggled with my energy, health, emotions, every April for at least 12 years.

Ah! There it is! 12 years ago was the first April I/we celebrated Leisha’s birthday without her.

For the first few years, I knew it would be hard. I expected it, planned for it, gave myself the grace I needed to experience it.

artwork by Brie 4 28 09

artwork by Brie 4 28 09

But this year… This year is 12 years later. I’m doing stuff - good stuff like speaking and sharing her story pointing people to hope. I’m writing my 2nd book to help women- just like me, embrace the hard stuff and learn from it and then break through to the other side of who they are with confidence.

I’ve done all the things I’m telling my ‘reader ‘ to do, but I’ve just not been able to bust free.

Can it be that 12 years later, my body, mind, heart, and spirit stills grieves acutely even though I am not aware of of my grief?

I know, “yes” ! The answer is YES!

In the 12 years that I have been mourning our daughter’s death, my body has revealed the grief even before my mind or heart knew what was going on.

I can try to ‘break through’ the grief, but it won’t happen until I embrace it, and allow my heart, mind, spirit and body to feel what is real.

Yes, it’s been 12 years. But my heart can remember it like yesterday.

Yes, I’ve done a lot of grief work. I’ve processed the emotions. I’ve even written a book to share what I’ve learned. But my WHOLE BEING remembers the precious girl, and longs for the laughter, the music, the words that she brought into our lives.

Twelve years, or twelve minutes…I miss her.

So … I sleep! I cry! I do the essential and let the rest go!

For now!

I celebrate the birth of my baby girl and I honor the emotions that I feel because of her absence.

Please don’t feel like you need to make me feel better. I need you to just allow me (or your grieving friend) space to be - whatever we need to be in this moment.

Please don’t say ‘you should be past this by now.” Grief doesn’t work that way. Don’t expect ‘better by now’. Just recognize that loss is hard, no matter the loss. And we all struggle differently.

Be willing to be present in the moment, to love us as we are.

I’m learning to be present and love myself just as I am.

I never want to forget!

Leisha was born, she lived, she changed my life— and maybe yours.

Happy Earth birthday baby girl!

April 28