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Author Topic: death anniverseries - want to talk about it?
Alice
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Today is the 14th year anniversary of the death of my youngest sister. I'll be 20 next month, so I guess that means she'd be 14 now. I was (almost) 6 when she died, and she was just a baby.

Also, the 7th anniversary of the death of one of my best friends is just around the corner. Also my grandma's, too.

Between now and December is always a depressing time for me. Last year I had a newborn, I barely noticed and I slept a lot. In the past few years I didn't cope with this well at all. I did dangerous and illegal things, analyzing it now I could say maybe I was trying to defy death, or feel alive.

Anyway, does anyone have coping strategies for this kind of thing to share?

Also, guilt seems to be a common topic in death. I feel guilty for the relief I've felt that she didn't survive - 3 kids 6 years old and under was enough to make my mom crack, I can't imagine what a 4th would have done. I am also grieving the loss of my childhood, that was the year I had to step up and be the glue that held my family together. It feels selfish and silly to be feeling this way.

Does anyone want to share on this topic? I lit a candle for my sister tonight. And I am watching my 13 month old son breathe.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You know, Dia de Los Muertos is coming up soon, and it's one of my favorite holidays, and one that I always celebrate, despite the fact that it's not really part of my familial culture.

I always appreciate having at least one day a year to build a really beautiful altar with photos and objects of people I have cherished who aren't here anymore, and having a night to basically sit down with them and reflect on them, tell stories about them out loud, raise a glass to them, and greive if I need to.

But too, however you feel isn't selfish or silly. death impacts people in a lot of different ways, as does how people manage death -- the fact that the way your family managed the death of your sister put you in a spot that really stole something from you is something to feel grief over, and something totally valid.

Big love to you, Alice.

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Djuna
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I don't know if you're religious or spiritual in any way, Alice (if I may call you Alice - I guess I don't know you to well), but I find that's something that helps me. Well, I'm not sure if I call myself religious these days (although I believe in God and so forth), but I am spiritual.
And my grandfather - he died about five years ago, five years this January. I was really cut up for a while, but I got past it more or less. I was still sad he wasn't here and all, but I'd come to terms with it.
Anyway, a few weeks ago was a reunion for my father's old Scout troop, of which my grandfather was leader. I spent most of the night flicking through the various albums there, looking for photos of him.
When the time came for dinner, and the various toasts that preceded it, an old man, the oldest there, stood up and said (and I remember the words clearly), 'There are many of us who, in the old Scouting parlance, have 'gone home'. Looking around the room, I can think of at least a dozen... good chaps, who could be relied on. To absent friends.'
At this I got quite choked up, and had to leave the room. All of a sudden I missed him quite powerfully. I struggled to get through the rest of the evening.
That night, I had a dream. I don't dream much, but when I do, it's very real, so that I believe it's happening. Just a dream of a normal day with him.
And in the morning, it really did seem so bad, because I got to see him again, for an hour or so.

I remember also, a couple of years ago, I had a supply teacher who was the spitting image of him, and his personality was identical too. I believe I was allowed to see him then too (although I didn't mention anything to him - awkward conversation...)

The main thing that helps me to cope is finding these things around me that let me feel that I've been with him again. And that he's still around.
I feel for you a lot, Alice - and I hope that one day you can look back, and just smile.

As for guilt... I'd prefer to look at that situation and think that those were the days your sister was given, and if some happiness could come from the fact that she had to go, if that meant that good things would happen that might not have if she'd still been alive, that can only be a good thing. My grandfather's death meant that I got closer to my father when I needed him, since me and him drove to London (about 100 miles) every Friday to see him in hospital.

[Smile]

PS Heather, what and when is Dia de los Muertos? I've heard of it, but it's not celebrated in the UK as far as I'm aware (unless it's November 2, which we call All Souls). It seems a wonderful idea.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Gumdrop Girl
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Yes, Día de los Muertos is more like Halloween/All Saints Day. However, while Anglican tradition dictates the celebration of saints, Spanish and Hispanic traditions celebrate hose who have passed from this life. It's a big thing here because we have a lot of Mexicans.

In my culture, we observe the anniversaries of the passing of our relatives. My grandfather died when I was a baby and my grandmother died in May of 1993. We go to temple every spring to observe their passing. We perform rites, make merit (we're Buddhists) and then we go home. It's not particularly introspective, just traditional.

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Alice
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Thank you all for your input. I vaguely remember hearing about Dia De Los Muertos a few years ago when I was taking Spanish at school. Tonight I'm going to research that a little more, thanks.

And about the loss of my childhood - I am feeling this ever much more this season because I and my son have been staying at my mom's house... I'm feeling about 9 years old, and handling the daily crisis'. Managing everyone else's grief here this week has been exhausting. And it's strange, because it isn't talked about in my family. My partner and I refer to it as the Baby Unspeakable. I know that my mom is blamed for it, and I only have a few ideas of why. I know far too much about the details already, my grandma took it upon herself to share with me when I was 7 years old some grisly, heartbreaking details.

And then there's this intertwine of something similar, only worse, with my mom's youngest brother when they were kids. So, it's been tough here. This post right here that I'm writing is probably the most I've worked it out ever.

smileyjoseph- that's interesting, I had a similar experience with my friend. A year later I met my my brother-in-law's sister who could have been her identical twin.

(Also, you can totally call me that, I just changed my handle in a panic a few months back because I started talking about abuse, but I'm okay with that now and maybe I'll even change it back)

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September
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I always feel sort of awkward trying to deal with grief, as everyone I know deals with it in a religious way, which doesn't work for me (I'm an atheist).

Thankfully, there hasn't been too much death around me. The deaths that have touched me the most were my grandmother (who died twelve years ago) and my grandfather (who died nine years ago). I was never really close with my grandmother, but her death was fairly traumatizing for me. She died of a brain tumour, was at home the last few weeks of her life, and since my mother was caring for her I was there daily and pretty much watched her die. I'm still trying not to think about that too much, and I don't think I've ever really grieved for her.

My grandfather was another story. We were really close and I had a serious case of hero-worship for him. I was devestated when he died, and I worked through my grief by paying tribute to him. I wrote a paper about him a year after his death, when we were asked to write about people who inspired us. And I still always remember him when I play chess, because he taught me how to play. I now have one of his paintings in my room (he was an artist) and sometimes I just sit and look at it and think of him.

Still, I don't think I have any set rituals for dealing with that. Whenever I visit the graves, I just stand there and don't know what to say or think or do. But I cope in my own way, by remembering things I shared with the people I lost.


Big *hugs* to you, Alice. Do you think you can bring up the death of your sister with your mother? Maybe talking about it would help you come to terms with what happened.

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Djuna
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Alice, what was your username beforehand? Do I, in fact, know you? So confused. [Big Grin]
And Joey, I have a friend who's atheist as well, and in that sense I find it difficult to relate to her, I guess. Anyway, if like her, you believe there isn't anything after this life (quite a valid opinion, I mean, who's to say?), then I guess the thing that helps me (it's along the lines of having the memories like you talked about), is to think in terms of (dear lord) physics. It teaches that time is another dimension like up and down... which would mean that back in some point in time, say 1995, or in the forties, that person will always exist. Not that you can go there, but I just find the thought comforting.

That glamorous love lasts where you sparkle and waltz and laugh before you were mine. - Carol Ann Duffy

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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