Activity: Get a pad of paper, a blank journal, or simply a notebook. (I’ve found that writing in a beautiful journal can be inspiring – but some people would rather use an inexpensive notebook.)Buy a pen you love to use – something that writes smoothly and effortlessly. It’s time to start chronicling your experiences. One reason grief disrupts so many aspects of your life is because your loss is not isolated – now is the time to reflect on the other losses in your life. In so doing, each will become an opportunity to experience grief, and release it.
"This helps you put things in perspective, honor your place in the process, and care for your body and mind in some other way. To help you “push the clouds away”, a bit at a time."List all the beings (animal companions, childhood friends, lovers, or partners) and all the places you’ve lost. Take a moment to honor each loss, perhaps closing the ritual by lighting a candle – a time-honored action of reverence. What you’ll learn from this exercise is the recognition of your resiliency – you are strong, and you will survive this latest loss. Embrace the process, don’t resist it.
When I finished my list, I indeed saw I had been through a lot. It made me realize that I was a strong woman, dammit! And that I would continue to live and thrive.
- Roger, 1994-1996. I can't quite remember the date, but an acquaintance of mine, a person I partied with back in my younger days, passed away after being involved in a car accident. It was weird. I just remember thinking I should feel bad but I really had no feeling other than holy hell, I knew that guy.
- Oscar, 1996. Everyone knew Oscar. He was the nicest guy and talked to everyone. He played football and I knew him through my cousin, Adrian, who played against him in a rival school. He, too, was in a car accident. This one floored the whole school. It was a my first real hit at a loss. What I remember most about him is his smile.
- Baby Snell, December 1999. This was my first pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. I never got to know my first child, and that loss was hardcore. I was disillusioned with my body and life itself. My child would have been 15 had they lived.
- Carl Raffensperger, 7/23/06. He passed away during a lung biopsy. This was my ex's step-grandfather. We never made the distinction of step/half or any of that. He was a wonderful great-grandfather to my children. He retired from his own printing company that printed children's books. I remember what a proud man he was, and how we would come over and he'd be in a cranky mood, but the babies running around would have him smiling in no time.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi Graham, 2007. Epilepsy complications. Our first dog, a black lab. My son used to climb out of his crib, go downstairs, and curl up with Obi in his dog cage. We would find him many mornings under a blanket down there. He was scary looking, but such a sweet dog. He would run out of the house when the kids got off the bus to greet them.
- Ellie Raffensperger, 01/07/10. She passed away from complications with pneumonia. My ex's grandmother. She was absolutely enamored with my daughter, Maya. They had this connection that I can't explain. She was a strong woman who outlived 2 husbands. Kind, but took no shit from anyone. I loved her for being who she was: a stubborn, loving woman.
- Joe Rush, 03/13/10. Stroke. Mr. Joe, as he was fondly called, was a co-worker of mine. He loved his family and was always kind to my children when they came by to visit the call center. One time in particular, he gave my children lollipops and told them he worked for Santa. My kids ate that up!
- Jorge Chavez Duron, 07/18/10. Left in a ditch with multiple gunshot wounds, in the line of duty, in Mexico. Koki, my cousin, left behind a 2 year old little girl. He was gunned down a week after my grandfather died. This was a huge loss for the Duron Family. I remember playing with Koki as a kid and running around and getting into shit. Good times.
- Denisse Robles, 02/11/11. Suicide. Denisse was my middle school friend. I remember her crying because kids would make fun of her for not having a dad. I listened to her a lot. This one hit me pretty hard. I lost track of her until 2010 and then she called me out of the blue to catch up and thank me for being a kind soul. I didn't realize those were goodbye calls she was making. She left behind 2 little girls.
- Richard Graham, 08/12/12. Heart attack. My father-in-law at that time. He knew it was coming. He walked down to the park, sat on a bench, and died. I fully believe he did that so he wouldn't be found in the house. I loved that man. Poppy, as my kids called him, was always honest. He was sarcastic, loved to do puzzles, and every Xmas morning he would make English muffin sandwiches. He is missed very much.
- Leo Saavedra, 04/13/13. Asthma complications. My cousin's 5 year-old son. I never met him in person, but any child that passes leaves a hole. He had such a big smile and was always laughing.
- Arthur Guise, 07/02/15. Murder/Suicide. Too raw. For now I'll just write down bouncy balls, candles, and prom as my reminders.
- Victor Duron, 09/25/15. Stroke. My grandfather's brother. I remember wishing he was my grandfather instead. He would take me out as a kid with him to the horse races and let me pick horses for him to win. He called me his lucky charm. He would try to get me to call him "Uncle Beautiful" because he said he was gorgeous, except I couldn't say it so it came out more like "Uncle Bofo" - much to everyone's amusement. His kindness is what I'll remember the most.
- Sarah. My first neighbor in the boonies. She offered me my first cigarette, which I declined. My first friend that wasn't a relation. She moved away when I was in grade school.
- Johnny, my high school BFF. When I left to join the army, I didn't know at the time I was never coming back. I miss having my friend down the street.
- My dad. Being estranged is hard.
- Fernando, my first love. Oh, how puppy love hurts. Part of the reason I joined the army was to separate myself from him. Crazy!
- Diego, my cat. Asshole ran away.
- My marriage. I can't even write down the amount of hurt I've gone through this one.
- My car, my home, my cat, my dog: I hope repossession, eviction, and loss of pets are things no one ever experiences, along with divorce. When you are blindsided with these things during these proceedings, it breaks a lot of trust.