April 24, 2024

U - Use + YOU

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


I have two entries for U.

First up, Use.

Not only did I use my mom's perfume, but I used other items, too.


Rings:

The first thing I did was put my mom's high school graduation ring and the ring she left me in her will (a golden ring with a garnet stone in it that belonged to my paternal grandmother, which was gifted to my mom) on a necklace so I could have them with me day and night, everywhere I went, over my heart.


Earrings:

While going through my mom's things, I came across a pair of earrings I had bought her in November 2022. They were a cheap pair from Claire's online. She had wanted cute, small earrings she could start wearing. Before all of the PET scans, MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans, she wore earrings daily, but countless scans forced her to take them out and forget about putting them back in.

She wanted to reacquaint her ears to earrings, so I bought her Leo horoscope earrings. She wore them once before misplacing them. We thought they were in her room somewhere and couldn't find them. We even thought they had fallen on the floor somehow.

Turns out, she had put them in her bathroom...in a macaron-shaped jewelry box where she'd stored all of her earrings. *forehead smack*

April 23, 2024

T - Tauren Wells "Joy in the Morning"

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


I've listened to the Christian Music Radio Station Z88.3 FM for many years now. I like the uplifting music they play, and I know people who don't even identify as Christian who use this station as a primary source for listening when they're in their car. That's how awesome the music is.

Anyway, at a Grief Share meeting, the hosts like to play a song to start each session. They've played songs I knew, and songs that were newer, such as the one below. I had heard it maybe once or twice before, but I hadn't paid attention to the lyrics. I did this time, also thanks to captions. And damn! Tauren Wells is an amazing singer. So incredibly talented, and his song "Joy in the Morning," is full of hope and joy and power. It's impossible not to sing it.

After I heard it at the meeting, I shared it on Facebook. Then, days later, when I had to drive past the hospital where my mom passed away, I was holding back tears. A minute or two after I drove past the hospital, this song came on, and I truly felt like it was a sign, a gift. I thanked my mom for sending it to me right in the exact moment I needed it.

April 22, 2024

S - Sammy the Teddy Bear

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Sammy the Teddy Bear is the physical manifestation of Sammy the Teddy Bear in my mom's children's books A Gregory Green Adventure Series. I bought him for my mom in 2017 to have fun with my mom and to promote her children's books.

My mom and I had a ton of fun with Sammy. He’s badass. See for yourself:


Sammy went to book events.


He has his own Wookie backpack.

April 20, 2024

R - Removing and Redecorating

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


One thing you'll hear is to take your time. Don't rush. Don't change things too soon.

And there is wisdom in that. Taking your time ensures that you're ready for the next steps and don't do something or get rid of something that you'll later regret.

However, not everyone grieves the same way. And for some, waiting might be the painful part.


REMOVING:

The day my mom passed away, I started to get rid of all her medical supplies. Yes, I was sobbing while removing the blood pressure cuff, forehead thermometer, pulse oximeter, bathroom scale, and bedside commode from her bedroom, but there was a sense of urgency inside me. I HAD to get rid of the damn medical supplies that filled up her room the least year of her life. Over the next few days, I removed the labels from her medications and brought them to a prescription drop-off at CVS and took out the equipment from her bathroom. Doing those things wasn't easy, but it was necessary.


REDECORATING

April 19, 2024

Q - Quiet (Reading) Time


Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom’s Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder


A month and a half after my mom passed away, I read a book called Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom’s Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder. Some people would say I shouldn’t have read it so soon, but it helped me in a few ways.

1) In the beginning, while the author remembered her mom before the diagnosis, I remembered some things about my mom and wrote them down in a new journal that I’ll be using specifically for that purpose, to preserve memories.

Side Note: If you're keeping track, I was writing in a family keepsake journal, memory journal about my mom, grief journal, and even had a prayer prompt journal. That's four different journals.

2) I became fortunate that, while my mom had declined, she still looked like herself (aside from a few extra accessories like a nasal cannula, port under her skin, a pleurx catheter, and bruises on her arms) and that she’d still had her mind. She was still clever and funny and creative. I’m also grateful that the cancer hadn’t had a chance to progress, which would’ve changed all of that.

3) It made me feel less alone. There was so much I could relate to.

April 18, 2024

P - Playlist + Photo Collages

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


I had introduced my mom to the YouTube and Spotify apps on her TV in 2020. She spent a lot of time saving songs and playlists she had found and enjoyed to her Spotify account, as well as videos to her YouTube account.

On her YouTube, she’d discovered cute digital Christmas towns and adorable snowy settings with animals created by Tim Janis, that are paired with popular Christmas carols. She loved to play these in the evening when she read. I would always go into her room for a while before bed and had a lot of fun watching those cute videos, too. Sadly, the ones she had saved (that were the best) were marked as private by the creator.

Here’s one, though, to give you an idea:

April 17, 2024

O - Our Story (Keepsake Journal)


Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


MY MOM'S MEMORY JOURNAL: 

April 8th, one month and three days after my mom passed away, I found a journal my mom was using to write down her life's memories. I had been looking for a keepsake journal that I knew she had, but I never found it. She must've gotten rid of it because she didn't care for the prompts but rather wanted to write whatever came to her mind instead.

The journal is almost half full of memories.



On the inside of the journal, she'd written:

"I am writing this journal to record any memory of my life when I remember some event.

"I hope this journal will be good reading someday."

April 16, 2024

N - Nature

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey



The week after my mom passed away, I went to Erna Nixon Park, a nature park with a nice, boarded pathway. I walked it with my dad and stepmom as a distraction, to get out of the house, and to be in nature.

Before I left, I sat down on a bench in a little tree nook and spoke out loud to my mom. I don't remember what I said. Maybe I apologized for my what I regretted and felt guilty about, as I had times before then and times after that. I might've just told her I loved her and missed her. Or I did a combination of all of that. Either way, what I said wasn't really important. What was important was that I spoke to her because I needed that.

I also took a bunch of pictures and posted a few photo dumps on Instagram. 


Like these:

April 15, 2024

M - Miracle Moments

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Miracle Moments are those times after someone passes away, when in the midst of your grief, something happens to bring you peace or happiness or calm, that can make you feel connected to your loved one and give you hope, and even make guilt and regret vanish.


FIRST MIRACLE MOMENT:

I experienced my first miracle moment on March 16th (13 days after my mom had passed away). I was having a really hard time. I was in my mom's bedroom, lying on her bed, hugging myself and sobbing.

Since my mom had passed away, I'd been stepping into her room occasionally to clear out the medical supplies and to find things that my mom wanted to leave to my siblings. Each time I went in there, I couldn't find my mom's Bible, which was odd, because it had been in the same place for months--close to her recliner, beneath her childhood vanity. But every time I looked for it there, I couldn't see it.

In the middle of sobbing on my mom's bed, I looked over and there it was, right where I had known it should've been, as if it had been hiding in plain sight until that moment.

I got up, sat down on her recliner, and opened it. On the dedication page I found an old, aged yellow piece of newspaper my mom had taped to it. It was a poem...the "Immortality" poem by Clare H. 

I recognized it immediately and started sobbing anew. 

It was like a message from my mom telling me not to cry (anymore), that she was okay and that I'm okay, that she is with me still...everywhere.

April 13, 2024

L - Ladybug Rocks #LadyBugRocksFL

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


A few weeks after my mom passed away last year (2023), I found a small bucket of stones my mom had hand-painted to look like ladybugs. She had wanted to use them as swag at book events. Either as is or to turn them into magnets. I decided to leave them in random places for strangers to find, hoping they’d bring a smile to someone’s face. Or bring others a little luck. I think she would’ve liked the idea of her ladybug stones decorating the city for people to discover by chance, like treasure left behind by fairies. (I’m the fairy.) 

There were 63 ladybug rocks total. I still have a handful left for special occasions.



These are the ladybug rocks.

April 12, 2024

K - Kitchen Time

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


One of the first things I did after my mom passed away was go through her recipes. I was looking for her best recipes as well as things I could make myself. The recipes that I did not keep—which were just magazine recipes or recipes she jotted down from cookbooks—I gave to my siblings to go through and take what they wanted. I made copies of all of my mom's special recipes and gave them to my siblings.

The first meal I made myself was a cottage pie recipe that calls for beer (I used non-alcoholic beer because that’s what I had). It was yummy.

Then I made salmon with a brown sugar and hoisin sauce glaze.

I also made my grandma’s sloppy joe recipe that calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup.

Then came a creamy chicken recipe and another salmon recipe with mustard, brown sugar, and dill.

And so on and so forth.

April 11, 2024

J - Job (New Job)

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


I started a full-time job in June, three months after my mom passed away. Before then, I was a stay-at-home writer, fully disabled under the law. However, living on my own required me to get a job in order to survive.

I applied to more jobs than I can tell you and interviewed for a few that ended up not being right for my needs. The job I landed was actually advertised in a local Facebook group my sister is a member of. She sent me the post. I contacted the person who advertised the job, got an interview with the owner, vice president and general manager, and got confirmation two hours later that the job was mine. 

Although I will not say where I work for obvious Internet safety reasons, I will say that I am in an administrative role. I really like my job. It's easy, but there's still challenges to keep it from being boring. At the same time, there's lulls where I get to write.

April 10, 2024

I - Imari

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


When my mom passed away, I finally realized why people become so attached to their loved one's clothes (and it’s because we live our lives in our clothes, memories are attached to them, and our scent clings to them). I had a hard time dealing with my mom’s clothes because I could picture her wearing them, and then there was the fact that they still smelled like her. Not her perfume, but her.

Although her clothes and her room didn’t smell like her signature perfume—because she had been out of her signature perfume for over a year—I found myself wanting to smell it for comfort and to remember my mom.

Our sense of smell is powerful. We can catch the whiff of something and be brought back to a time when we were children. We can pass by a stranger in a store, catch the scent they are wearing and recall our mom or dad or teacher or [fill-in-the-blank] using that same scent.

For me, AVON scents hold powerful memories. 

My mom sold AVON for years.

I even sold AVON for years.

My mom’s favorite perfume is Imari by AVON.

She also loved Haiku by AVON.

Another perfume she loved, although not by AVON, was Shishado.

April 09, 2024

H - Haiku Poetry

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


My mom used to pen Haikus for fun, and she did it her way most of the time. She didn’t often pay attention to how many syllables each line had, which made them even more special and cute.

 

Here are a few of my mom's Haikus:


Flooding waters

lapping at the door

catfish swimming by

(She wrote that one after Hurricane Fay hit Florida. If you read Seismic Crimes, this is the catfish that inspired the catfish in a scene in the beginning of the book.)

April 08, 2024

G - Grief Share


Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Grief Share are meetings you can attend with other grieving individuals that are typically held at churches. The lessons and the workbook are Christian-related, but even people who aren't Christian can benefit from being around and talking to other people who understand, in some way, what you're feeling and going through. And if you're not Christian, you can just ignore what doesn't work for you or your faith.

There are other meetings you can attend other than Grief Share, but I'm talking about Grief Share because those are the meetings I'd found close to me and attended.

The first meeting I attended, I came in at Week 9 of 13.

During a 2-month break when the session ended, I used GriefShare.org/my to access the weeks I'd missed so I'd continue to have a lifeline during that 2-month break, which I badly needed considering my grief was fresh (just a month old).

April 06, 2024

F - Facebook Posts

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Sharing my grief and my grief journey on Facebook helped me a lot, especially in the beginning. I didn't think I'd want to share something so personal, but I felt called to because I was lonely and also because I knew others could relate. I'm glad that I shared these things; the responses and love I received made me feel less alone...for a moment. Having a community really matters.


TEXT READS:

I was having a hard time a moment ago. Thoughts…grief…regrets…guilt… I went into my mom’s room, laid down on her bed, and cried…hard. I spoke out loud to her all those thoughts and regrets and guilt. My cheeks are sticky from tears.

After some time passed, I looked over and saw her Bible. It was right where I knew it should’ve been, but I hadn’t seen it there before now, as if it had been hiding. I opened it and saw this poem that she’d taped onto the page where you can write whom the Bible was presented to and from whom. (She’d bought it herself when she was 19 with her confirmation money. Says so on that very page.) The old, folded up piece of paper taped to the page contains the poem “Immortality” by Clare Harner.

I love that poem. I’ve used it in an unpublished story. The instant I read that first line and recognized the poem, I started sobbing all over again. To find it in that moment, after I’d been struggling with grief and talking to her, it felt like a message from her telling me not to cry, it’s okay, and that she’s everywhere.

April 05, 2024

E - Epistle (Letter from Heaven)


Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Scroll down for the captions to each image post.


TEXT READS:

Thank you to everyone for your heartfelt comments recently, especially yesterday/today. ❤️

Last week at my Grief Share meeting, someone read this Letter From Heaven. I know if my mom could, she’d want to tell me these things, especially the fourth paragraph. For anyone who has ever lost a loved one, I know they’d also want you to hear these things, too, so I’m sharing the letter for everyone who could use it. Make sure you have a hanky ready.

Hi,

     It's me.  I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know I'm OK.  The strangest part about my passing is I don't feel gone from you and I am working to let you know that I am still there with you. I do hear you talk to me and I'm just trying to get you to feel my presence. I am sending you signs, as many as I can, so please be patient if they don't come when you want them to, I promise they will come when you need to know I'm there.

     Please laugh and have fun again.  When you laugh I feel your energy and I laugh with you and when you celebrate life I am right there alongside of you doing the same.

     I need you to understand that feelings like guilt, anger, regret, and immense sadness sometimes builds a barrier between us.  I understand your grief and I wish I could help you to feel better but please understand that grief is a natural part of my passing for you and I honor how you grieve.  However, I would love for you to try harder to replace your grief, little by little, with all the happy memories of our times together.

April 04, 2024

D - Donating

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


For some, going through their loved one's belongings and figuring out what to do with them too soon can hurt them even more, but delaying the task too long can delay your grief and healing. Neither way is the right way. The only right way is your way.

I ended up going through my mom's things very early on in the grieving process for a couple of reasons. 

One, a sibling kept asking about this item and that item, and because of that I decided to gather up everything my mom left to her family or what I thought they'd like/want, which meant going through things. 

Two, I had to do SOMETHING. During the first two or three weeks, I really relied on being busy. Busy work and distractions are helpful but, again, can delay grief and healing.

Three, I didn't like having these tasks left to do, going through my mom's belongings. I didn't think that waiting would particularly make it easier, as some say, so I did it early, and because I couldn't get help, I did it all by myself.

Yes, there were a couple of moments when I got emotional, which I share in the upcoming F - Facebook Posts, but time wouldn't have made me less emotional, and I was okay afterward.

Anyway...

April 03, 2024

C - Church

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


Growing up, my family went to church occasionally. I mainly remember going on Christmas Eve, which was always special. My mom, however, grew up going to church.

I've always been spiritual. I believe in many things. Things that people would find conflicting. Many would wag their finger at me and say that I can't believe in Jesus and also celebrate pagan holidays like Ostara (Spring Equinox), Beltane, Litha (Summer Solstice), Lammas, Mabon (Autumn Equinox), and Samhain/Halloween.

Well...phooey on them! 

Last January(2023), I got the urge to start bringing my mom to church. I thought it would be something she'd enjoy and would get her out of the house, and I would've loved to share that with her.

April 02, 2024

B - Beach

 

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


The week after my mom passed away, a great friend brought me to the beach. I hadn't been to the beach in maybe 8 or 7 years. It's crazy how quickly time can go by, and I live in Florida! I hadn't realized that much time had gone by since I'd been to the beach until that occasion. I wish I could've brought my mom again, at least once during that 8-year time span. Alas, that was not in the cards. But...I believe she's enjoying the most spectacular beaches right now.

My mom loved the beach, so it felt right to go there to have a little fun, feel a little peace, and get a little sun.

Whenever my mom and I used to go to the beach, we would collect shells. It was her thing...my thing...our thing. At the beach that day, I filled up a bag. It had been a really good shell day.

April 01, 2024

A - ASMR

Theme: Grief Work and Healing Journey


What is ASMR?

It stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. 

Check out the Wikipedia page here.


Basically, it's sounds (whispering, certain whispered words like "purple," tapping, mike brushing, page flipping, keyboard clicking, even eating, and a bunch of other stuff) and visuals ("plucking" and Reiki, light visuals also called light triggers) that give you brain/scalp tingles, which is calming and relaxing. 

People watch and listen to ASMR to de-stress at any time of the day, but most people (like me) watch and listen to ASMR before bed. It can help with insomnia to make you sleepy.

I knew about ASMR before I stumbled across my first ASMRtist (like 'artist' but tailored for ASMR creators...ASMRtist) on TikTok in 2022. That happened during one of my mom's hospital stays when I was at home and opened up the TikTok app. TikTok likes to show you random videos from people you don't even follow when you open the app, and that's how I discovered the joy of ASMR.