Monthly Archives: October 2012

Guardian Angels and Quarters

I’ve always believed in heaven and hell. I never really thought about it a lot until my younger brother died. He was not only my brother but my best friend. When we were younger we did a lot together. He was the outgoing one. The one who made and kept friends easily. I was the shy one, the one who was much more content watching than participating in things.

When my brother died I was devastated. He was only 44 years old but cancer doesn’t care about that. Cancer doesn’t care that he had so much to live for. That was over nine years ago, at the time I didn’t, couldn’t believe it when everyone said time heals. It does, or at least it makes the pain less.

My real belief in angels started on the day of my brother’s funeral. Through, what I suppose was a technical mistake, my name was left off of all the funeral notices. Normally that wouldn’t have bothered me much. I like staying in the background, but this was my brother. It hurt, a lot to be left out. During the funeral when they read the names of the surviving family members and I wasn’t mentioned, all around me the rest of family whispered that I had been left out. That didn’t help. I picked up a few local papers on the way home from the funeral, curiosity  I needed to know if I had been listed in those notices. I hadn’t. It was too much, when I got home I thrust the papers at my older brother and fled upstairs to cry my eyes out. He was so upset he ran back to get our mother. She was still at the church talking to friends. It took us weeks to find those papers. He didn’t want me upset so he hid them under a cushion in a chair.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my younger brother was there, he was watching out for me. Even though I was really upset leaving the church I noticed a quarter on the sidewalk. Not to extraordinary, but I picked it up. After I glanced through the papers and noticed my missing name, I found another quarter on the road. I picked it up. Walking the two blocks from the church to our house I found several more quarters. I picked them up also.

Rushing up the driveway, I found four more quarters, all in a row waiting for me. I didn’t think about them. I picked them up and put them in my pocket with the other quarters.

Much later I was watching something on TV about how loved ones keep in contact once they had passed on. One of the things they mentioned was coins. They like to leave us coins. My brother leaves me quarters. Over the years there have been less quarters in my path, but he still leaves them for me. When I have those days when I really miss him or need to talk to him, I find a quarter.

A friend recently lost her father to cancer. She had known my brother in school. She was having a really difficult time facing the reality that her father was dying. I was walking to the gym, we went to the same one but not usually at the same time. Occasionally we’d see each other there, but not often. Then one day on my way there I found a quarter. They just seem to be there when I need them. It doesn’t matter how many people have passed that way before me, when I look down there it is. I picked it up knowing instinctively that it was for our friend. My brother wanted her to know that everything would be okay.

I explained to her about the quarters, gave her the one I found. Later she said it got her through some rough times. It helps to know that those we love still watch over us and know what we are going through.

The quarters don’t hurt either. I always put my brother’s quarters in a special bank. Every year to raise money for the cancer fund they have an all night event where you can buy white paper bags and decorate them in memory of your lost ones or in honor of cancer survivors  They light candles in the bag and line the walkway for people to read them. I use the quarters to buy a bag for my brother and my sister each year. We lost them eight months apart to cancer.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a guardian angel who leaves quarters. That is when he isn’t too busy playing hockey among the clouds and teaching the little angels how to play cloud baseball and hockey.

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How do you handle grief?

Grief  is the hardest emotion to handle, at least it is for me. Grief isn’t just one emotion it is all emotions. Sorrow, pain, anger, confusion, guilt, every emotion you have ever felt is in grief. It leaves you drained, physical and emotionally.  For me grief is the worst emotion to go through. After dealing with grief everything else is easy.

For me, grief is grief! It doesn’t matter if I’m grieving the death of a loved family member or the death of a loved pet.

To anyone who has never loved a pet this might seem stupid. Anyone who has loved  and lost a pet will totally understand. I can’t live without a pet. I am a basically a dog person although I do love my cat. Possibly because this cat thinks she’s a dog, she’s shaped like a dachshund and acts like a German Shepherd. Anyway to me the grief for a pet isn’t all that much different from the grief I felt losing my brother and sister.

Ten years ago my youngest brother died of cancer, it was the worst time of my life. He was my brother, my best friend and my main supporter. He cheered me on in everything I did. I did the same for him also. When he was diagnosed with cancer it was devastating. He fought the cancer for three months before losing the battle.  I made it through with a ton of tears and a ton of poetry. I write poetry whenever I’m faced with things I can’t handle. Poetry has gotten me through life. I only write it when I can’t express or deal with my emotions any other way. Eight months after my brother died, my oldest sister was diagnosed with cancer. She died after a three month fight.  Once again we were plunged into deep grief.

Losing both of them so close together was terrible, the worst possible time. Then my eleven year old dog died, she died of old age but it didn’t make it any easier. I turned back to the poetry. A month later I got a new dog, a two year old golden retriever. I had him for two years and then he died of cancer. A year later my 20 year old cat died of old age. Death! It was all I was writing about, occasionally I would slip in a poem about what they all meant to me, but mostly I was writing about how I felt losing them. My grief was just as deep, just as hard to deal with for the dogs and cat as it was for my family members.  For a three year period I was emotionally numb. There was just too much death around me. Death has never scared me, the way I die does. I don’t want a long painful death, but then no one ever does. After those three years of losing so many loved ones, human and animal, grief and death finally turned into peaceful memories. It became easier to tell the stories about them again. Life continued. I can’t forget any of those I’ve lost, but the losing them has eased. I know they are no longer suffering and hopefully are in a much better place. I do believe in heaven for both humans and pets.

Thankfully we pass through the grief and in time we only remember the good happier times we had with them. What brought this up today was yesterday my sister lost her three year old lab to a freak accident. He was a very typical lab, loved playing ball. She threw the ball for him as she had done thousands of time. He ran after it and somehow broke his back. He had to be euthanized immediately. Obviously she is devastated but he died doing what he lived for. He loved playing ball and running.

Grief is such a hard emotion. No one really knows what to say to you or even do when faced with the grief of others. After the funeral is over you are basically left alone to deal with all the pain and emotion. It’s even worse when you lose a pet, no one comes to help you through those first few days. You bury your loved pet alone or with a few family members.

Sometime I think its easier to hide out until the grief has run its course and you can move back into life with just the memories of your loved one or loved pet. Unfortunately life usually won’t let you hide until your emotions are ready to face people again.

Life is never easy and death isn’t comfortable for anyone to talk about or deal with. I handle it by writing poetry. It’s how I handle death, it’s how I handle most problems.  My intentions with this blog wasn’t to bring anyone down, its just that death is always a part of life. You can’t get away from it, sooner or later everyone loses someone they love and I was just wondering how others dealt with death and grief. They are the most intense emotions we ever have to deal with. They are never easy but they are a part of us. I write, I write about them, to them, for them. I keep their memories alive by writing poetry. Most of my poetry will never be read but that’s okay. I write for myself and those who I’ve lost. What do you do to ease your pain of grief and death?

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