THERE ISN'T A RIGHT WAY TO MOURN

This past year has been… well… not what I expected.

Today is one year since my grandfather passed away. He passed away June 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm EST.

I remember sitting in my bed at home waiting for the call. He was in the hospital in Ohio ( where his Doctors were ) and I knew that he wasn’t doing well. He had fallen a few days prior, he had Leukemia and a couple of other rare health complications that I won’t get into.

It literally feels like yesterday.

You know how you go into a new year and you’re like, this year is going to be MY year!

This wasn’t “my year,” although I went into it thinking it would be…

When my grandfather passed away, I had never actually experienced loss. I mean, I lost my great grandparents and remember their funeral, but I’m talking about as an adult.

  1. The effect that it has on you.

  2. And then actually dealing with the grief.

I have been fortunate that I had never dealt with losing someone so close to me that I spent SO much time with.

Taking a turn for the worst…

I then lost my cousin to cancer and my dog, Cooper.

All within the last year.

They were all amazing people ( and yes… we consider Cooper a person ).

If you know me, then you know that I’ve really been struggling.

  • I’m angry.

  • I’m sad.

  • I cry all the time.

  • My temper is at an all time high.

  • I have panic attacks every night.

  • I can’t sit in a restaurant because I feel like I’m going to faint.

  • My throat feels like it’s closing at night.

  • I’ve isolated myself.

  • I’ve focused purely on work.

  • I’ve become extremely spacey.

  • A bit careless.

  • I think about them all day long.

I’m going to be super real in this post ( as I do with all of my posts ), but this one especially because this is a relatable topic and something that we all face in our lives.

So, I went into this “depression” and “shock” after my grandfather passed away. I’m not one to show or want to feel emotions. I pushed them away as much as I could. One of the reasons was…

BECAUSE I ALSO FELT AN EXTREME AMOUNT OF GUILT.

This is something that only my parents know, but I want to share it with you because I’ve really struggled with this.

I was very close with my Papa. I drove up to Boca all the time to see him. To have breakfast, lunch or even spend the night. He was always there for me and we had so much fun together. We laughed, joked around and were never bored.

A few months before he passed away ( April to be exact ), I knew something was off, but didn’t want to accept it or see it. It was Passover and he didn’t invite me. My family was coming in ( Aunts + Uncle & cousins ), and he even spoke about it in front of me…

That wasn’t like him.

However, I felt so beyond hurt. I took it personally. I distanced myself. I refused to accept what my parents told me. That something was going on with him. That he wasn’t feeling well. I thought it was an excuse.

How could someone you are SO close with not invite you to a holiday dinner when you are just 45 minutes away?

It was unusual and the first time it had ever happened.

My mom brought it up to him and he reached out immediately and didn’t realize that he had never mentioned it. I never replied to his texts or calls. I was still hurt.

After about a few weeks, I replied.

Then, he started getting sick. He was going for tests. He was in and out of the hospital.

And of course, I was there for him. Calling him to see how he was doing and I saw him about a couple weeks before he passed.

Knowing that I handled the situation in such a selfish manner has left me with loads of guilt, terrible feelings and a huge life lesson. Communication.

There is nothing more that I wish I could do than tell him how much I love him and apologize. I did eventually speak to him about it, but the fact that I went a couple of weeks without saying anything just kills me.

Then when my cousin passed away just a few months later, I remember sitting at the funeral holding onto my seat because I felt like I was going to have a break down.

…and then when Cooper passed away on my birthday…

That’s when it all went downhill.

So much loss in such a short amount of time.

I had no idea how to handle it.

All that I knew was that my work was suffering, my relationships were suffering and my mental health is still suffering.

After Cooper, I really got back into journaling. That’s when I got strict with my morning routine and self care rituals.

I KNEW that death was part of life and I KNEW that I had to grieve in order to move forward.

This is what I started doing:

  1. Journaling morning + night

  2. Really using calming essential oils again

  3. I started getting into “zen” and took advantage of my himalayan salt lamps

  4. Sounds became part of my routine. I listened to calming music morning + night

  5. I began meditating

  6. Taking breaks during the day just to walk and reflect

TBH, each day kind of felt like it was getting worse DESPITE these positive external factors that I put in place.

These routines were bringing out so many emotions ( and as I mentioned, I don’t like to feel )

These routines were only going to work if I allowed myself to FEEL

As I sit here today writing this emotional post, I’ve realized that there isn’t a “right” way to mourn. There isn’t a “right” way to move forward with your life. There isn’t a “right” way to grieve.

Everyone does so in their own time, you know?

In their own way.

What’s important to me is that you feel.

Actually, I learned this at my therapist yesterday. Yes, I went to a therapist and actually encourage anyone who is struggling to see one. It is a luxury and nothing to be ashamed of, got it?

Here is some free therapy for anyone in need:

WHAT I TOOK AWAY FROM MY SESSION

  • Instead of pushing away what I feel and diving into work to keep my mind busy, I need to identify what that feeling is and understand that it is OK to feel that feeling.

  • Then, I need to actually FEEL that feeling. Sit with it.

  • She also mentioned that we don’t need to “move on” after someone passes. We need to “move forward” WITH THEM.

It’s all about perspective.

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you know the pain. But, you have the memories. I honestly don’t know how to “move forward” with them and that term is taking me time to comprehend.

What I took away from this session though is that moving forward means moving forward with their memories and with them still in my heart.

They might physically be gone. But they are still very present in my heart.

So, no matter what it is that I do in life, their presence will still be with me.

My therapist also shared a new journaling technique.

When I journal, I tend to write about a situation or my day. Or anything that comes to my mind, you know? I talk about journaling ALL THE TIME.

But when I went in for my session yesterday, I told her that I was angry.

Rewind to one of my struggles in the past year… anger!

  • She recommended journaling about a specific emotion. This will help you to feel the emotion, but also get to the root of it to be able to “move forward.”

This mindset shift and other journaling techniques can take time. Nothing changes overnight. But, if you are struggling, this is a good tip to try.

Just saved you $150 ;)

As I reflect on the past year today, I choose to be grateful for my amazing memories.

I will write a dedicated post about loss with my cousin and my dog, Cooper as those dates come. Today is about my Papa.

Papa was awesome.

The best word to describe him!

  • He was hilarious. Had the sickest sense of humor.

  • We wore matching aviator glasses.

  • He was dedicated to his family, friends and career.

  • He was the most loyal man you’d ever meet.

  • He loved what he did EVERY DAY.

  • He didn’t play tennis, but of course, showed up in the neighborhood tennis photo LOL

  • He was positive.

  • We both loved watching COPS ( the TV show )

  • He was obsessed with Ralph Lauren and had about 100 of the same shirts.

  • He loved to walk, but more specifically, take laps around the pool.

I am so grateful that I moved to Florida. Papa lived in Toledo, Ohio during the Summer and Florida during the rest of the year.

The amount of time that I got to spend with him was priceless.

FUNNY STORY

After his funeral, we went back to his house in Toledo. I wanted to grab a sweatshirt from his closet.

When I walked in, I noticed that everything was color coordinated and perfectly organized.

Then I thought about my closet. Color coordinated and perfectly organized.

Every time I walk into my closet, I think of my Papa because we obviously had some OCD in common, but I mean… who doesn’t love a close that look like a store?

I know he’d agree.

Last weekend, my cousin’s girlfriend, who also happens to be my business partner, was in town. She told me that when she met my grandfather a few years ago, he told her how proud he was of me.

I started crying.

He was such a supportive, loving, kind, nonjudgmental ( except when it came down to how “literal” I was ) grandfather.

The lessons that I learned from him are endless.

  1. Be honest in everything you do.

  2. Be loyal to everyone around you.

  3. Family is everything.

  4. Treat everyone you love ( friends, clients, employees ) like family.

  5. Do what needs to be done.

  6. Always do things on time.

  7. If you commit, follow through.

  8. Show up on time.

  9. Wear black ( he thought it was more flattering on me LOL )

  10. Switch the clock in your car after day light savings.

You know… the usual haha but not the usual because it was Papa.

Today, I am going to take a few laps around a pool, watch Cops and go through old photos.

This is how I choose to mourn. In my own way. In my own time.

There isn’t a “right” way to mourn. I hope you found this post valuable and clarity in anything you might be going through in life!

XO,

Sydney

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