Personal Journey to Mourning

I have written about grief before, but it now seems much more relevant than it had previously. So here we go down the rabbit hole.

2018 was a rough year for my family. It started with the death of my great-grandmother, “Grandma Rosey”, (my mother’s grandma). There was a lot of drama surrounding her declining health after she had a stroke several years ago which lead to my grandmother, “Grandma Ginny” (mom’s mom) not attending her own mother’s funeral. We all tried to convince her to go because we know she will regret it, but it was to no avail. I had just arrived to work when I received a message that Grandma Rosey had passed. I was set to go to the funeral, but at the last minute, I stayed home because a nurse I worked with made me feel full of guilt for planning to be out of work. This wasn’t one of my proudest moments.

Next my father’s dad, “Grandpa Fink”, was in the I.C.U. In my family’s fashion, I received a call at work telling me that he was on life support and that they were letting him die the following morning. I was a mess of guilt and sorrow. My dad’s family hasn’t been a part of my life for a long time because of an argument my father and I had ten years ago. When I went to visit him in the hospital, he was unable to communicate and seemed confused. He wasn’t actually on life support (confusion runs in the family I suppose), but he was in bad condition. He’s now in a nursing home instead of being at home taking care of my grandmother (his wife) who is unable to care for herself properly.

Then my Grandpa Pauly (mom’s dad) was admitted to the hospital for organ failure. An infection was taking over his body and he was dying. Luckily, after dozens of tests, procedures, and treatments (and a week in the hospital), he was discharged in stable condition. My Grandpa Pauly is someone I have always connected with and that was a really scary time for me.

After that, my Great-Grandma Burns (Dad’s grandmother) got sick while in the nursing home with Dementia. She is refusing medication treatments and is not well.

Her husband, my Great-Grandpa Burns, can no longer walk independently and uses a wheelchair often. My dad thinks that his time with us is limited too.

Lastly, my Step-Grandma Pat (my mom’s mother-in-law), passed away on the last day of the year. In her last days, she was but a hollow shell of the woman she once was.

This year has taught me so much about myself, but it has also taught me a lot about the people around me. How we perceive things and how we grieve are both very personal experiences. Some people grow stronger in times of stress. They throw aside their fears and do their best to hold up those around them. They take charge of the situation and work diligently to make those around them comforted. Others watch in silence. They disconnect themselves from the situation and view things from the outside – they shut down. Some people use humor as a coping mechanism. They will find comfort in making the people around them smile in the darkest moments. Others become angry at the world around them. They refuse to accept the situation that has been set in front of them.

There is no one “right way” to deal with death and dying. Over the past year I have felt strength, silence, humor, and anger in vulnerable situations. And that is okay.

Allow yourself and those around you to mourn in their own way. We each have our own path to take in the journey of healing.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Gifts for that Tricky Giftee

Do you have a list of people to shop for that are tricky to buy for? I want to help you this year by listing some gift ideas that will hopefully spark inspiration for you (and me).

  • Teachers: They are the people who mold the minds of our country’s future leaders – they deserve some pampering and goodies for their hard work.
    • Manicure Bundle: Place a luxurious hand lotion, nail polish, pair of comfy gloves, emery board, and peppermints into a cute little box (without the cap – you can find one at the Dollar Tree) and wrap it in cellophane with some cute curly ribbon.
    • Pampering Bundle: Use a medium sized glass vase and add a face mask, small candle, cute sleep mask, candy canes and/or chocolates, and an ornament before wrapping in cellophane and tying with ribbon.
    • Coffee Run Bundle: Add a small bag of freshly ground coffee to a cute mug, wrap it in cellophane and tie a Starbucks (or other coffee shop) gift care at the top with ribbon. You could also do this with tea!
  • Coworkers: Yes, I am talking about Secret Santa.
    • Movie night bundle: Place a few bags of instant popcorn, a couple boxes of candy, popcorn seasoning, and a local movie theater gift card in a reusable plastic popcorn bag (you can buy them on Amazon). Wrap the gift in cellophane and tie with ribbon.
    • Game night bundle: Place a deck of cards (or UNO) , left-right-center game, board game, snacks (trail mix, dried fruit, chips) into a cute box wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon.
    • Baking bundle: Set an oven mitt, kitchen towel, wooden spoon, and cookbook into a brownie pan wrapped in cellophane (and tie with ribbon – you get the idea).
  • Neighbors: If you like your neighbors, that is.
    • Cookie Platter: Bake a bunch of different kinds of cookies, put a few of each in a cute tin lined with parchment paper, add a bow and tah-dah!
    • Baking Jar: Make brownies in a jar or another recipe in a jar, attach a small wooden spoon (and the recipe/directions) with ribbon and deliver them to your neighbors.
  • Significant other: Focus on their passions, what they spend the most time doing, and what would make their life easier.
    • My husband enjoys learning about brewing beer and trying new drinks from local companies. One of the first holidays we had together (before he started brewing his own beer) I got him a beer bottle holder in the shape of the U.S. It was a good excuse for us to try new companies’ products to fill up spots on the board.
    • We both love traveling, so another gift I bought my husband is a scratch off world map. When we travel to a new state or country, we scratch off that area. It’s a satisfying gift that will entice us to continue traveling.
    • Amazon devices are great gifts too. We have an Echo, a dot and just bought a second dot (they are on sale for only $20 right now!) I also have a Kindle Paperwhite (for reading) which was a favorite gift of mine and is on sale right now too. With the Echo and dots we can communicate from different rooms, stream music, Google search, enjoy audio books, play games, and so much more. The Paperwhite gives me access to hundreds of books with only a couple of clicks (I have the Kindle unlimited subscription, so I don’t have to buy books individually, I just pay a small fee monthly for however many books in their library that I would like to read).
    • Subscriptions are great too! Like I said, I have the Kindle Unlimited subscription and I love it. It’s great for any avid reader with an Amazon Kindle device. If someone loves listening to audio books or loves to read, but doesn’t have a ton of free time to sit and enjoy a book, services like Audible are a great option! You could also buy them a year of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu or other great services.
    • Handmade gifts are an awesome idea. One of my favorite gifts ever is this small wooden canvas that my husband used a wood-burner to engrave roses and a message to me. It’s sitting on our bedside table and I love looking at it every day.
    • I think the best gifts are experiences. Tickets to a concert, a trampoline park, a Broadway show, a hockey game…are all great options for a gift. These kinds of presents are perfect for a person who already has everything – they don’t take up much space, build memories, and give you an excuse to do something new together. Honestly, spending quality with the people we love is the best present anyone could ask for.
  • Parents:
    • Family photo session (gift certificate or already planned). You could also do a session of all of their children (and grandchildren if there are any), print out a group photo as a canvas, and give it to them as their gift.
    • Put together a date night for your parents! Include a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, a bottle of wine, and some fancy chocolates. This gives them an excuse to go out together and have a good time (not that they need an excuse)!
    • Surprise family gathering: Do you have a sibling who lives far away and doesn’t get to visit often? Surprise your parents by helping your sibling travel home for the holidays. Having their kids work as a team to get the family together for Christmas (or any holiday that you celebrate) would be a great gift for your parents!
  • Friends:
    • Something that reminds you of time you spend together: If you and your friend drive around country roads on the weekends, maybe you should buy her a crystal charm to hang from her rear-view mirror. If you guys like to cook or bake together, maybe you should look at kitchen supplies such as a personalized wooden cutting board.
    • Something that you created yourself: If you enjoy crocheting, make your friend a scarf or blanket with their favorite colored yarn. If you enjoy photography, make a “gift certificate” for a photo session that they can use for themselves, as a couples/family session, or with their pet! If you enjoy calligraphy, you can personalize a stained wooden canvas with a saying or their last name. You can find a ton of inspiration for this on Pinterest! These are great gift ideas if you are on a strict budget this year, but they are also super heartfelt.
    • Something that will pamper them: Face masks, bath bombs, nail polish, body scrubs, soft sweaters, pajama pants, fluff socks, and other skin care products are awesome gifts to put together or gift separately.

 

I hope that this list of gift ideas helped to get your creativity flowing. Gift giving can be tricky, but you can do it! Don’t break the bank this holiday season – give gifts that are meaningful and affordable.

Love Always,

Elizabeth