Friday, February 28, 2014

60 Postcards

When I need a daily dose of celebrity gossip, I tend to stop mid-morning at the Daily Mail's website. Packed full of photos and strange stories of movie stars going about their business, this site isn't one that I'd associate with a heartfelt, true life story of a woman desperately missing her mum. But today I found such an article. 

Rachael Chadwick is a 30-year-old Londoner who lost her mum two years ago. In the Daily Mail piece, she spoke of how some individuals can have problems dealing with other people's grief, and I couldn't help but nod wildly in agreement. As I've mentioned here on my own blog, I've seen my address book change in ways that I never imagined. People who I thought would be there for me, disappeared - and are still AWOL, sadly - while others impressed me with their caring words and actions. People, also don't know what to say, and often what they do say can be hurtful. I lost my mum three years ago, and the anniversary of the fourth year without her is fast approaching. I'm also facing the first anniversary of my dad's death, so this time of year isn't one that I'm completely comfortable with anymore. But reading of Rachael's experience and the new path she's taken made me feel not so alone. It also left me hoping that people will read her story and realize that grieving is not something that you get over, or heal from. It's an ongoing process and weeks, months, even years later, the griever still feels the effects. It becomes part of you. 

Rachael's story doesn't end here. Following her mum's death, she went to Paris to scatter 60 postcards in her memory. The hope was that the people who discovered her postcards would send her an email, so that she would know that her cards had been found. She set up a blog to track the progress, and what happened next is incredible. Not only did she hear back from plenty of Parisians, but she also landed a book deal in the process. Her book, 60 Postcards, was just published this week. It's inspiring that an act of remembrance and love resulted in such wonderful feedback, and a book that will help many other people who are currently grieving. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

7 Ways to Cope with the Holidays After the Loss of a Loved One

I must apologize for my prolonged absence on my blog. 2013 has been a truly difficult year. My father passed away in the spring after a short battle with the same cancer that claimed my mother's life. 

Becoming 'orphaned' as an adult is a fear that I always carried with me, but it doesn't matter how much you worry about the notion, you're never prepared for when it actually happens. 

And here we are… it's the holiday season, a time of family, memories and a renewed sense of loss for some of us. 

I recently wrote an article for Canadian Living magazine's website about how to deal with your grief during the Christmas holiday season. This subject is one that's very close to my heart. I wish that I had found an article like this one for the first Christmas that I spent without my mum. For my research this autumn, I spoke to a wonderful grief counsellor from Montreal - Dawn Cruchet. She offered some invaluable advice that I took to heart this year. I can only hope that my article will help others like me who are continuing to struggle with the death of someone special. Click here to read 7 ways to cope with the holidays after the loss of a loved one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Must Visit Website

The 3rd anniversary of my mum's passing is only a few weeks away, and despite the ever-growing gulf between my previous world that I enjoyed with my mum, and the quieter, more lonely one that I'm experiencing now, I'm still comforted by new websites and books that cross my path.

I have no idea how I missed This wonderful site belongs to author David Kessler. His book "Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms" was one of the books that I leaned on in the months following mum's death. I still refer to it when I'm having a wobble and I need some support.

His website mirrors his books. It provides a safe haven for those of us who have lost a loved one, and still feel the emptiness that their absence brings.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Eve

Mother's Day is celebrated here in Canada and the United States tomorrow. I've always loved this day as it's the 'official' opportunity to tell the world how much you love and respect your mother. It's important. Mums do the most difficult job in the world and they cannot be thanked enough for it. Some people might need the little push that Mother's Day provides to tell their mum how much they love them, but I never fell into that category. 

My mum was my favourite person on the planet. We would get together at least once a week and we spoke every day. Each night, after dinner when we both would have just sat down, fresh from washing the dishes and before we got tucked into whatever was on TV that night, we'd have a chat. Chances are, I would have spoken to my mum earlier that day too, but regardless of how frequent we spoke, I never let one of our conversations wrap up without telling her that I loved her. I didn't say it because I felt like I had to, or because she said it first. I said it because I felt it deep in my heart and I couldn't bear to have her hang up the phone without hearing those four little words: "I love you, mum."

I know many people think that occasions such as Mother's Day are just greedy opportunities for greeting card manufacturers and florists to make a killing on sad saps who need to make a grand statement. To those people I say, what's wrong with letting someone know - even if it is once a year - that you care about them? The world needs more love, not less. And if one day helps someone take pause and tell the people closest to them that they care, is that so bad? No, I don't think so either. It's amazing how a bunch of flowers or a glittery card can make someone feel loved and important. 

I've always been a fan of Mother's Day. But the last two years, my relationship with it has been strained. Marking the occasion without your mum here - to hug, to spoil, to love - is incredibly cruel and painful. I miss going through the motions on this day and every day. I feel like I can no longer take part as intended, that I'm standing on the sidelines watching all the other 'kids' of all ages, doting on their mums. The ache doesn't lessen two years on. It changes a bit, but it's still there and becomes part of you in a strange way. 

If you are fortunate to still have your mum a phone call away, do me a favour and tell her that you love her. But don't just tell her on Mother's Day. Tell her on her birthday. At Christmas. When the flowers in your garden bloom for the first time in Spring. Tell her every time you can - just because you *can*. You can't tell her enough, trust me... because when she's gone, you'll wish more than anything that you could tell more time. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Mom, Style Icon

When your mum served as not only a parental figure, but a best friend, it's impossible to turn off the sensor that screams "cool mom-related stuff". Even with Mum gone, I seek out books, movies... anything really... that celebrates how special mothers are. 

Case in point, I found a blurb for this wonderful new book in a recent issue of Easy Living magazine. 'My Mom, Style Icon' by Piper Weiss is the spin-off from the hugely popular website, The book and its blog celebrate the fashionable fabulousness of our moms. While growing up, we're all too busy with our own issues to realize that once upon a time, our moms had their own social lives and amazing closets stuffed with wickedly fashionable clothes. 'My Mom, Style Icon' celebrates these incredible women, their clothes and the love that bonds us. As a daughter of a truly fashionable Mum, I find this project incredible endearing. 

Here's a wonderful clip from YouTube that showcases the book and the heartwarming process that brought it to fruition.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Year Past

It's hard to imagine that I have experienced one full year since my Mum died. 

The first Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday. Despite the year being only the passage of twelve months it seems to feel like it's been much longer. I hate the thought of this distance. Sometimes it feels like my Mum has been gone for much longer. It worries me that I will begin to forget her voice, her touch and her laugh. The longer that I am away from her, the more faint she becomes. 

The journey of making my way in a Mum-less world didn't end when the calendar flipped to the year mark. If anything, I'm finding a new perspective on my situation as each day passes. The pain of missing her hasn't faded. If anything, I seem to miss her more on regular days than I do during holidays. She was part of my daily routine. Phone calls, visits... we didn't wait for holidays, or special occasions to get in touch. We spoke every day. Sometimes multiple times. The daily grind is truly that... a grind - but with each day, I try to move forward just as my Mum would have wanted me to. 

I wanted to start this blog as a way for me to express my feelings during the worst spells of my life. I do feel that the writing process helped. Keeping feelings bottled up inside is never advisable. 

So what's next? 

For now, I plan to keep this blog active. My journey is still on-going and I'm not sure where I'll end up. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stumbling Towards the Inevitable

Is it human nature to find yourself tracking back to where you were a year ago? I'm assuming that it is, especially when a major anniversary is fast on the approach. The desire to compare and contrast where you stand today with where you were twelve months back is one that is at times overpowering, and somewhat inescapable. 

Since last year when I lost my Mum during its watch, March has lost its claims on being a kind, happy corner of the calendar. While I don't want the third month to be all doom and gloom -- especially as there are loved ones birthdays tossed in the March mix -- it generally feels like a cold, black hole. It's a strange feeling.

March for me, used to be that month when the NHL season was winding down. I'd be obsessed with my team's drive towards a playoff berth. The weather would often be teasing us with the first appearance of Spring. Robins would return, and the dirty snowbanks would be in mid-retreat. The first steps back into what felt like a renewed life with plenty of sunshine, warmer temperatures and budding trees was knocking at my door. Possibilities were right around the corner. 

March this year casts a different shadow. It feels...gray. Not just outside my window, but inside as well. Every day I find myself falling back into this time last year, and I get lost in my thoughts. I remember quite clearly what was going on, how everyone was. I wonder if there was anything that I should have done differently. Why didn't I fully realize the signs of what was to come? I try to make myself feel better by stating the obvious - it's so simple to question the past. At the time, we were too busy coping, struggling through daily events to analyze every single thing. Yet, this explanation still provides little comfort. 

The inevitable awaits me in a few weeks time. To say that I dread the occasion is an ignorant understatement. As my Mum would wish, I'm trying to be brave in the face of the worst anniversary imaginable. But like a magnet, drawing its prey ever closer, I cannot escape its pull. I will have to confront this milestone whether I want to, or not. I cannot hide, run away or pretend it isn't happening. Soon it will be here. Just another day for most, but for me it's one that will forever leave its mark on my heart. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Never Let Me Go

In the past year as I dealt with the constant storm of swirling emotions, I've tried my best to avoid movies that would leave me in a puddle of tears. Normally I'm no stranger to touching films - I love them, and a good cry prompted by a heartwarming (or wrenching) movie is often most welcome. But this year, I've tried to steer clear. I've managed to be selective about watching certain scenes in 'Forrest Gump', and I was lucky to avoid 'The Family Stone' completely. There will come a time when I want to watch 'One Week' again - it's one of my absolute favourites, but it tends to do a number on me. It's best attempted with plenty of Kleenex on hand, and on a day when you don't have to go anywhere - so you can get tear-induced puffy eyes to relax, and shrink back to normal size. 

Recently with nothing on television one night, we decided to dive into the pay-per-view realm and take a chance on some spur-of-the-moment entertainment. Our choice? The new Kiera Knightley, Carey Mulligan film, 'Never Let Me Go.' I don't want to give the plot away but it's a very poignant movie. It's billed as a quasi-alternate universe-sci fi thing, but in truth, none of this labelling mattered; it's as moving as any of the aforementioned films, and I still find myself thinking about it.

The story offers several messages, but one in particular I took to heart - how none of us have enough time in life to be with the ones we hold close and love dearly. Some of us live long lives, others short... but we all share the common desire to have more time, more memories, more love with the people who mean the most to us. 

'Never Let Me Go' brings this hope home. It's a wonderful movie, one that I recommend for all to see. Just be prepared for the onslaught of puffy peepers - a temporary ailment that's well worth it in my eyes.