Thursday, April 5, 2012


Julie ~ Happy Birthday
The word anniversary takes on new meaning after the death of a loved one.  This coming Sunday, Easter Sunday, which falls on April 8th this year, will mark what would have been my Julie's 36th birthday.  

I have always associated her with spring, and with Easter.  Her first birthday cake was a bunny cake.  Her birthday has often fallen on, or near, Easter Day.  I realized quite some time ago that this year, her actual birthdate would fall on Easter.  

I do believe I started seeing Easter bunnies, furry Easter toys, and assorted chocolate eggs and bunnies on the shelves of the discount stores in early February.  Was Valentine's Day even over with?  An innocent walk down an aisle in WalMart caused me to let out a little cry to my husband while I said, "I have to get out of this aisle.  They already have Easter items on display."  I wondered how I would ever face Easter this year.

Two years ago, April of 2010, on that same aisle in WalMart,  my husband and I had giddily loaded up our shopping cart with enough candy to treat an entire kindergarten class or two.  We were getting ready to have Easter at our house, and we had to make sure we had enough candy.  That Easter Celebration held at our home to celebrate both Easter and Julie's birthday would be the last time I saw her alive. 

Keicha, Julie, & Amy
Easter 2010 

Needless to say, this week has been a very rough one for me and for my family.  I wasn't sure I would even decorate for Easter this year. Finally, just before we left on our Spring Break, I realized that I would feel better if I got out all those small little things that always were on display for Easter.  I needed to see those cute little bunnies after all.  

I needed to put out my collection of daffodils, my favorite flower, that has traditionally been a part of my home decor every Easter.  I needed to remember that to me the daffodil represents the resurrection.   I had daffodils carved into Julie's headstone.  I needed to celebrate the true meaning of Easter and keep hope alive in my heart.

Grief cannot be denied.  At times, it just must be expressed.  I have cried a great deal this week.  Crying is good.  It releases the sorrow that begins to weigh down the heart.  It is cleansing to cry. 

I am learning the great wisdom of these words:  Lean into the grief. You can't go around it, over it, or under it. You have to go through it to survive. It is important to face the full force of the pain. Be careful   not to get stuck at some phase. Keep working on your grief.  

These words come from a list of "Suggestions for helping yourself survive" found on the website entitled, The Fierce Goodbye, Living in the Shadow of Suicide. (click to read the entire list and find other resources.)

I have chosen to lean into my grief because I do not wish to become stuck in one phase of grief.  I am working on my grief by trying to express it in healthy ways.  I know the toll Julie's death has taken on me and on my family, but I also know that I am a survivor.  Julie would want me to remember her by living my life in the most healthy way I can.  

My plan is to celebrate Easter by going to church and remember the hope that I have because of my faith.  

I will remember my sweet baby girl's smile, the one she gave me the first time our eyes ever locked just after she was born 36 years ago.  I will remember the love she gave me and joy she brought me.  

After church, my husband and I plan on having Amy join us for brunch at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs.  

For me,  I hope anniversaries associated with Julie don't just remind me that we lost our sweet Jules, but instead, I hope to focus on remembering the beautiful life we as a family had with us for a treasured time.   Anniversaries mean that I hope we will remember to keep on living, and loving, and laughing,  and celebrating the lives of those who remain as we create new memories to treasure.  


Jackie said...

Your love for Julie is a forever love...
I hug you, my friend.

Rita said...

I hope so, too. Remember the wonderful things and have a happy Easter. If you need to lean once in a while--lean. Best to you and yours. :)

Linda Myers said...

Thinking of you with your daffodils this week.

Leana said...

Beautifully written Sally. My mom already told me she bought me some daffodils this year. She always buys me flowers for Easter. I will both mourn and rejoice in thinking of Julie. It does feel good to let out all those tears, bitter as they are. All my love to you and your family. xoxo

Thisisme. said...

Such a beautiful post today in loving memory of Julie. I am so full of admiration for you, and the way that you are trying to cope with this tragedy that occurred in your family. My prayers will be with you over this Easter weekend my friend. Looking at that photo of Julie with her sisters, and looking at her lovely smile, who would have thought that something so sad was about to happen. I think your last paragraph was so true. Focus on the happy family times you all had together and just try to hang on to that. Blessings and hugs being sent to you.

lyndagrace said...

My son passed away 4 months ago yesterday. He would have been 37 years old on April 4. This has been a rough week for us also. My pain and grief are reminders of my son. I am afraid to let go of those feelings for fear of forgetting him for one minute. In other words it is my way of holding on to him. I accept that he is no longer here, but I can't accept that he is no longer here, if that makes any sense.
Thank you for sharing the wisdom of the words... Leaninto the grief...
I share in your sorrow. Your post is encouraging.
I am just not there yet.

KathyA said...

You are so very brave. Embrace that grief and hold it tightly to you.

Olga said...

You have been on quite the journey these past two years. Your love for your family has kept you going and your ability to express all this so openly is a gift. Peace to you and yours.

DJan said...

Anniversaries, and birthdays, never ever stop being moments of pain and precious remembrance. This year will mark ten years since my son died, and just yesterday I spent the entire day thinking of him.

Writing about it, remembering, and being thankful that one day we will be reunited, all brings me peace. Sending you virtual hugs on Good Friday.

Jeanie said...

I will think of you and your Julie when I see the beautiful blooming daffodils this weekend. I know she will be a sweet memory in your heart as you are making new Easter memories.

Beth said...

Such a beautiful tribute for your beloved Julie. April 8 is also the birthday of my son. I will hold you all in my thoughts and prayers on Sunday.

Rose said...

Your last paragraph is wonderful advice for anyone who has lost such a precious loved one. My best friend lost her daughter--my godchild--six years ago, and there are certain days, such as her birthday that are particularly hard for her. Yet each year there are fewer tears and more smiles as we remember the happy memories of her. I will you think of you and your lovely daughter as I look at the daffodils this weekend.

Sending hugs your way,


Wren said...

Such a lovely and beautiful tribute...sending you hugs across the miles.

Friko said...

Dear Sally, I know it must be very hard, but at some memorial services around here we celebrate the life of the departed, not the death.

Not having lost a child myself I wouldn't presume to say 'I know how you feel', I just hope that life will become bearable and even joyful again.

Best wishes.

Facing50.Blog said...

A beautiful post Sally and dreadfully poignant.
If you don't mind I am going to show it to my friend who lost her son when he was 38. I think it will really help her.
I shall think of you all over Easter as I look out of the window at my own daffodils.
Sincerest wishes

Jean said...

This post is humbling, but it is also hopeful. Keep working your way through the grief.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

You always express heartfelt sorrow along with hard-won wisdom. I admire the way you plan occasions like this, knowing what you will need in order to both remember and move forward. Thank you for sharing your grief with your readers.

rosaria williams said...

We are in a special club, forever grieving and forever missing the person we love(d).
brian's birthday is at the end of this month, and I do not know what I will go through. I do know that I have to work through the pain and concentrate on the beautiful moments I remember.
Peace to you.

Linda Reeder said...

There will be daffodils on my table because they are my favorite flower too, and now they will also remind me of you. Peace be with you.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I am so glad, Sally, to see you 'leaning into your grief'... You are doing GREAT and I am proud of you. I know people who just can't get beyond the pain of grief --and they cannot move on.. They somehow feel as if 'they' don't deserve happiness themselves... But --they (and you) do... Julie would want you to 'celebrate' her life --and not stop living because she died. I am so very very proud of you.

God Bless You --and have a JOYFUL Easter.

Grandmother said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and sharing survival strategies for others who may not have discovered them yet. Wishing you courage and peace.

Sandi said...

Dear Sally,
As I read this beautifully written, poignant post, through my tears I saw the bright yellow of the multitudes of daffodils I have surrounding me. My yard is profuse with them, and I gleefully cut and refresh and have daffodils in every room of my house at this time of the year.
I send you hugs and love as you lean into the double grief of your loss and the celebration of Julies birth. Someone earlier mentioned we belong to the same sad club, of losing a child. Ironically, my son took his life just a few days after his birthday, and that was also the last day I saw him alive.
I love you, and am praying for you, through the days to come. I know that your faith sustains you, and allows you to lean into the grief, knowing that Julie's life was a true blessing.
God bless you and keep you, and bring you peace, dear friend.

troutbirder said...

Exactly. For us it's the Christmas holiday season. My eldest sons gifts were already under the Christmas tree awaiting his and our daughter in laws arrival....

Stafford Ray said...

Reading through this post then the comments, I am reminded how natural and normal is that intense grief parents suffer at the loss of a child. You seem to be on track and healing. Good!

Chatty Crone said...

I am so sorry about the death of your young daughter. My parents lost my brother at age 51 and it is so hard to lose a child. God Bless. sandie

Joanne said...

This was such a beautiful post. and yes there is no avoiding grief. I did everything I could to avoid it after my Dad died...It didn't work.Even after all this time it creeps up and it is very very painful. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child suddenly. All I know is that you are probably helping so many that are going through the very same thing.
God Bless you Sally and comfort your heart
Blessings, Joanne

Mare said...

The sadness of losing a loved one is so hard. Glod bless you and all of your family.

LC said...

I am so inspired by what you have shared about your journey through this unfathomable grief. It encourages me in my own journey that you planned a conscious celebration of Easter and that you hold fast to precious memories of Julie and write of those memories.

Thoughts and prayers continue from here for you and your dear husband and family.

Vagabonde said...

I have been reading the posts I missed. Your grandfather was a handsome man. It is good you can keep the pictures somehow – I don’t know what aps are, really. It is also so great that you still have high school friends. In France we don’t have high school reunions, high school meetings, etc. I don’t know a single high school friend and wished I did.
Your Easter post is so beautiful. Anniversaries of lost ones are difficult. I wish you peace.

Cape Cod Kitty said...

This is such a beautiful post in so many ways. The anniversaries are hard, and I am so inspired to read your words about "leaning in to grief" as that is the only way I have survived many sad events in my life. I am certain your words will bring a great deal of insight, comfort and direction to many.
I hope your Easter dinner at Cheyenne Mtn was lovely!

Wondering if we can still arrange to meet when I am in CO.

Isabelle said...

Everyone else has said it all but my thoughts and sympathy are with you too.

Barb said...

So hard to even imagine your pain and your family's grief, Sally. I see that your spirit and resolve are strong even as you (wisely) allow yourself to grieve. I often think of you and what you have managed to survive these past 2 years. Hugs to you.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Though I truly have no experience in your kind of grief, I'm so glad you can share your heart here in this blog. I'm shedding a few tears for you, friend. (((HUGS))) as you heal.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It must be so very painful for you and it's difficult to know what to say in these circumstances. Loved ones never truly leave us; there is always something there, every single day, that will make us think about something they once did or liked.

Hugs to you.
CJ x

Mage said...

We really care.

Liz said...

Can there be anything harder than to lose a child? A lovely post and I'm glad you brought out your Easter bunnies.

Nezzy said...

What a wonderful tribute to your beautiful baby girl. I'm so sorry, this is something a parent should never have to face. I'm she lights up the heavens dancin' with Jesus!

Grief is a strange animal and can hit ya at the strangest times. Ya gotta embrace it to get through it.
My heart and prayers are with ya sweetie.

God bless ya and have a beautiful weekend my friend!!! :o)

Bossy Betty said...

Stopping by to thank you for leaving such wonderful words on my blog the other day, and then I am moved to tears by this post. Yow. So much pain, but so beautifully expressed here.

Arkansas Patti said...

Anniversaries of a loss are so very painful. My heart goes out to you and I pray your pain eases and you can focus on the beautiful life you had with Julie before it was stolen from you.
Hugs and prayers.

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Dear One, I am so glad that reading a post in my blog, was a happy thing for you. And I hope that you stop back, now and then, and perhaps get a giggle out of my often silliness. :-)

I am so sorry, that you have such sadness in your heart... At this time of year, and all year long. But you sound as if you are handling it in the very best way you can.

Many good wishes to you, as you continue this journey through the stages of grief.

Gentle hugs,
“Hath the pearl less whiteness Because of its birth?
Hath the violet less brightness For growing near earth?”

~Thomas Moore

Heidrun Khokhar said...

April is the month of my brother's birthday. I miss him still. He was killed in an accident just after his 30th BD and a week after my 32nd. Having both lost our dad in our teens it seemed death just wanted to take my world from me.
Buddy was just 5 at the time and I wondered why he was alive with his disability that would always be there. But my brother who was so bright had to go. I felt I was cheated by our creator.
Today I understand those feelings better and am much wiser. Buddy is actually very bright and reminds me of both of them! And we talk about how he is like them and he just smiles the best smile ever. He takes pride in being a part of the family past and present. What a blessing.
I hope that some of your daughter's traits will appear in your grand kids and bring you joy.
May you get over your pain and grief more and more so that those around you can enjoy time with you and also feel important around you. It 's hard to move forward but it's also important for those closest to you.

Terri Tiffany said...

You are getting there. Just writing this post and expressing your grief and making the decision to cry and that it's ok and celebrate Easter is a step. I am so sorry for you and your family but you sound so wise and strong that I know you will find a way to make your grief count for others as well.

Maggie May said...

This was a very poignant post and I think it will have a tremendous healing effect writing it.
Easter must be a constant reminder & I think you are very brave and strong to cope the way you do.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Kay said...

You've said it all so beautifully, Sally. I hope that spring with it's colors and days of rebirth and hope will add a measure of calm to your days. Of course... Julie would want that.