Death is such an ugly scary word. Death is sad. Death is painful. Death plain out sucks.
I have had 4 people close to me pass away already and I am just 29 years old. My two grandfathers have passed away and also two of my siblings. My older brother, Jonathan, passed away 5 years ago on August 24, 2010. My other older brother, Steven, was terribly shot and killed last year on January 29, 2015. I have seen grief that comes from losing a loved one nearly tear our family apart. Dealing with intense grief is hard. Our family has walked through all the stages of grief many times now. Even as I write this, my heart THROBS, because I miss them so.
Not only do I cry because I miss my family members, but I cry because I see the pain in my children’s eyes. My brothers were the best uncles a child could ever dream of. My brother Steven was living with us at the time and had been for a year. Their Uncle Steven was simply the best, he was their superhero, their everything! One day I am watching them climb all over him and the next day I am sitting down with them explaining to them that their best buddy has not only died, but been killed. Yes I know that sounds so extreme to talk about to a child, but we had no choice. Trust me we did not want to. Our home was filled with police and detectives that we needed them to hear it from us first because they were going to hear it. My brothers were the world to me, they were my protectors, my best friends, the ones I shared childhood memories with, and now they are gone.
I have seen my children sob, I have seen them withdraw and I have seen them act out because they just did not know how to handle their emotions. I have watched myself withdraw and act in ways I shouldn’t because I just did not know how to deal with this pain. I did not want to deal with it, no one wanted to. But I am here to tell you that there is Joy that comes in the morning, I promise you! I do not know when that morning is for you, but I promise you, your morning will come. Our family has learned at deeper levels how to grieve, to forgive, to support, to have sympathy, to care, to love……I want to share a few things that I have learned over the years.
- Everyone grieves in different ways, so please do not judge them.
- Do not rush yourself, some days you may be only surviving moment to moment.
- People really do mean well when they say the dumbest things.
- Time does not heal and time does not make things better. Time simply just allows for us to learn how to live this new life again with that small hole now in our heart.
- Joining a Grief Share group helped my mom and I out tremendously. I highly recommend getting this book that we got from them called Through a Season of Grief. I attached a photo below.
- Don’t hide your emotions from your kids, invite them in so that they too can let down their walls. Teach your children it is okay to cry and be sad. I know we want to protect them from grief, but since we can’t, teaching them how to grieve in a healthy way is good!
- Do everything you can not to push away those closest to you.
- Choosing to be thankful for the time I did have, is way better! One day I thought to myself what if God said to me Krista, would you rather me have given you your brother for the 28 years I did, or me to have not given him to you at all. I decided then that when I find myself really sad and mourning for them, I would try my best to be ever thankful for all my moments with them!
- God is FAITHFUL and God is GOOD and even when I turned my back on him, he NEVER turned his back on me. If it was not for God’s unending grace and unconditional love, I am not sure where I would be today.
All this is part of the reason we decided to slow down and live a much more simple life, spending more moments with each other. Life can be way too short. One of the things we have always told our kids is that anytime they are sad and want to talk to us to please come to us, day or night. We are always showing them photos and videos of their loved ones and letting them know it is OKAY to smile again when we remember. Our son Keenan asked me one day if we can always travel with our labtop just in case he is sad, he can look at old photos! Absolutely we can 🙂 Our kids look forward to celebrating our loved ones birthdays and anniversaries of their passing because we make it super special! Yes it is an extremely sad day filled with lots of tears, but we focus on celebrating the life we had with them! We always go to their favorite restaurant, get balloons to release and the kids will either write a letter or draw a picture to send up to Heaven! I feel this is very important for the kid’s to feel this connection with them. I can see it warm their soul by the smiles on their faces as they let go of their balloons! My heart smiles as well 🙂
I would love for your to share your advice and helpful tips for dealing with a loved one’s passing and also how you celebrate as well. I am terribly sorry for those of you who read this with aching hearts. Please know that I extend all my love to you. I am here to listen to you and offer encouragement in any way I can. Life is easier when we go with it together.
In memory of my sweet brother Steven Mark Ricker
In memory of my sweet brother Jonathan Mark Ricker