I’ve thought for a while what I would say on this day. And now that it’s here I got nothing. And just like so many other times this year, someone helped. I didn’t have to ask. I don’t even think she knew this was something lurking in my mind (even though we talk about everything). So thanks to my sister for writing today’s blog post. And thanks to everyone who stepped up when I was too afraid to ask for help or didn’t know I needed it.
What Mark’s Death Taught Me About Life
I know you didn’t ask me to write a guest post for your blog, but as your older sister I am used to just bardging right in. So if you would like to share this on your blog…feel free.
I began to think about the impact Mark’s death has had over the past year on my life. His death has taught me an abundance of things about life and living life. It’s ironic, huh? The lessons of death aren’t about dying but about really living. While we all know the clichés associated with death (i.e. don’t take others for granted), there are deeper truths that I’ve been grappling with this year.
Don’t be afraid to feel what you feel and let it come out when it needs to come out. I have cried more over the past year than I have in my entire life. While the reality of Mark’s death was public so is my pain and the pain that all of us have felt. And public pain is OK. Most people aren’t judging you, they are supporting you. And if they are judging you, they are just assholes (hey, it’s my blog post). When I have had hysterical crying moments at work, my colleagues have supported me. They have loved me and not judged me. They have hugged me. They have picked up where I couldn’t. They have covered for me. When I cried at the t-shirt store when I saw a shirt that reminded me of Mark, the nice lady behind the counter handed me a tissue. Crying doesn’t make you weak, allowing others to see your pain means you are really strong.
Support comes from the places you least expect it. When Mark died, I didn’t know who to turn to. I didn’t know who I could talk to or seek out for help. Because all of us were grieving together, I felt like a burden to others. But that didn’t stop you from supporting me in my grief. Here you were in your darkest moment, supporting me. Talking to me about my feelings. Grabbing the tissue box for me. It felt wrong, but on some level it was also right. Some people I thought would be there for me, were not. But an amazing thing happened, there were also new people who picked up right where others walked off. The right people are there for you if you let them be.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is the shield of the strong. When I began to ask for what I needed to others, would fulfill my request and then some. Practicing asking others for what I need was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. “Can you please come and be my friend?” “Can I talk to you about how I am struggling?” These questions were SO HARD FOR ME. I would have to practice in my head. I would be about to ask the person and then I would chicken out. For me, I had to be so strong inside to ask for what I needed on the outside. A hug. A conversation. A cup of coffee. A babysitter. Most people weren’t put off by my request; they were glad I asked them. People will help you and not resent you. And if they do, you will know. My friend told me, I want to help you. It really is a privilege for me.
Most people have scars, you just can’t see them. When you are open about your deep pain, others open up to you. I didn’t know that so many people have lived and survived so much pain. I honestly didn’t know. Prior to Mark’s death I was naïve. I portrayed a great life, great kids, and well, pretty much a GREAT life. Why in the world would someone want to share life’s struggles with someone who is so, well, GREAT? Mark’s death has made my life more real. Being open about my pain has allowed others to open up. They have showed me their scars without shame. They have showed me that they have been able to heal. I, too, have scars…these days, you can pretty much see them everyday. But I know it won’t always be like that. One day, my scars will be hidden and I will show them to others when they need help.
Even though you are my little sister, I feel like I have been chasing you and your good example as a sister (and a person) my entire life. I want to be more like you, and Mark’s death has allowed us to be even closer than we already were. Mark’s death has taught me more about our family than I ever realized. The first few weeks after Mark died, remember how we holed ourselves us at our other sister’s house? We moved the couches together in the living room so we could be physically REALLY REALLY close. We laughed and cried and cried some more. We let the kids be kids and work out their grief through slumber parties for two weeks straight and popcorn in their beds. I think we ate gas station doughnuts everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, too. Oh and Skinny Pop…bags and bags of Skinny Pop.
Through Mark’s death I learned that family will always be there for each other thoughout each other’s lives…and it’s important to keep it that way.
I love you sister!