Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Today marks the one year anniversary of my 18 yr old nephew Dane’s passing, and I couldn’t help but feeling the need to sit in stillness and reflect on the events that have happened over the last year. While reflecting it became clear to me how we got through that first year of grieving once again.
As today starts with a crazy record setting blizzard here in Denver, it couldn’t be more fitting as it describes exactly how this last year has been for all of us. If you have ever lost anyone close to you, you’ll understand exactly what I am talking about.
The first year after loss is crazy, there is no other way to explain it.
So many trials, tribulations, questions, and tears all along with such incredible growth. They say that in your darkest moments is when you grow the most, and I couldn’t agree more! When have don’t have answers and you don’t know how to move forward, is when you have to dig the deepest and you begin to find your way.
When you suffer such a loss, everything changes in your life. Every single aspect is different, and you have to pave the path to find your “new normal”, and that is exactly what I have done.
In this past year we lost Dane to a motorcycle accident, and we lost a good friend due to complications of surgery at just 23 years old. Two beautiful young men with amazing personalities and lives in front of them. Such tragic events and such devastation left behind.
My nephew Dane in the white shirt and gray shorts, and Jordan in the middle with the cowboy hat and white shirt. This was taken in July 2017.
The first year is hard, incredibly hard. There are so many things that you need to know, but unfortunately, until you are in this position of grieving you just won’t know!
Over this past 12 years we have suffered many tragedies, one being the death of my 21 year old brother. His passing started me on self discovery journey like no other. You can read my story here https://www.thegigglinglife.com/how-to-overcome-questions-guilt-judging-when-grieving-a-loss-from-suicide/ .
What were the hardest parts of the first year after loss?
I would love to be real with you right now and share with you some things that I really struggled with this last year.
Not being in control of my emotions. Never knowing what was coming or being able to be consistent with my emotions.
Not being able to find consistent happiness within my day. I have always been able to find happiness and when that is missing from your life it is a terrible void.
Not being able to take the pain and sadness away from my children, my brother, my niece, and my parents. It is such a helpless feeling when you are not able to help someone in that deep pain. The thing that you want the most is to lift that heaviness from their shoulders, let them be able to breathe and escape the pain.
Not knowing when the pain would end. When would life become bearable and somewhat normal again? When would you be able to get out of bed feeling great again? Not having that heavy burden on your shoulders?
Not being able to be that super positive person that you normally are. This is a conflict within your mind. It was for me anyway. You know how you want to be, and you are so desperate to be there again. Being patient to find it again is very, very hard.
Not being able to finish things that you have started. For some reason, consistency in any area of your life is missing, for me anyway. You literally live one day at a time, and moment to moment. It is frustrating to say the least! Having to put your passions on hold and once again, learn patience!
Not being able to protect my family and loved ones from pain and suffering.
Not having answers on why things like this happen. Not being able to solve problems or answer my questions or my children’s questions regarding this subject is so hard.
Not knowing what to do next. We all think we know what to do when something like this happens, however, you don’t. Each loss is different, each loss is uncharted territory.
Not being in control. Wow. This is so hard for me. When everyone is suffering so deeply, everyone becomes a wild card. As you just think you are getting something under control, something changes…it truly is so day to day.
Knowing that the grieving journey is one that you have to take on your own. One step at a time, one day at a time. It is so frustrating because so many people are there to help you get through your grief, but unfortunately, they cannot lift the pain and heaviness from you. You have to do it by yourself, and knowing that you are responsible for this journey is very scary.
With that all being said, you learn something different from each struggle. I honestly wish we could skip all of the struggles and lessons, but if we did we sure wouldn’t get the opportunity to grow would we?
So as much as I didn’t want to learn any more lessons, I sure did and I want share a few of them with you!
What I have learned from grieving over this past year?
During this last year of picking up the pieces, we have not only grown closer as a family, but our roots have been rooted a little deeper into the ground. As a family, we have dug deeper and been able to celebrate each step in moving forward in this process. we have yet again, learned to be grateful for every moment that we get with one another and that we have to live in the present.
If you or anyone else that you know have lost someone or something, I hope that everything I have learned over this last 11 years of grieving and growing can be helpful to you.
Some things that I have learned over this last year of loss. I hope that you may find comfort in them.
Be grateful. You have heard this a million times, right? It is much easier said than done, I know, BUT you must find GRATITUDE in order to move on! Trust me, I have had so much loss in my life…I know it takes a lot of work in the beginning, but each day find one thing to be grateful for, then continue to add on to that list daily. Don’t judge yourself if you are grateful for something small, over time it will get easier. Just make sure to take that first step, I promise it will be worth it.
Live in the moment. Right? What could be more important than being grateful to be able to live in the moment. We have to be present. We have to enjoy what we have right now, and enjoy who is in our lives right now. Embrace each moment, which we have all heard, but we must actually do it. We have all learned that there are no guarantees about what the future holds.
I have learned to breathe. Sounds crazy, I know? Some days the pain is unbearable and all you can do is focus on taking one breath at a time. For me, the pain that is most unbearable is watching my kids, niece, and brother suffer so much. They were so close to Dane, and it kills me to watch them cry and grieve every day. I missed their smiles and laughter. This is when I had to learn to take a deep breath and know that this too shall pass.
I learned to not expect too much. Grieving is a very long process. You have to know that everything takes time and that each day is a new journey. A journey of healing, learning to live in a different way. You must be patient with yourself and know that each little step is a step in the right direction. You have to settle in, and await this long grieving process. Breathe and be patient.
I have learned to give myself a break. This was a serious struggle for me for many reasons. I have worked so hard in the last 12 years (since my brother died) to keep positive, be aware of my thoughts, and live life with gratitude. I have been building my business, my blog, writing my books, etc. and had so many great expectations for the year. Once Dane died, everything turned upside down. Literally. I found it so hard to get motivated to be that positive person and continue on with my goals. Each day was a battle for our entire family and it certainly took a toll on my business and I. One day was really good, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the next was terrible! One step forward, 20 steps back! This just killed me…as all I wanted was to be consistent, one way or another! So, I had to give in and realize I just had to get through this, one day at a time.
I have learned to give myself time and learn to follow my heart. This step has lead me to a whole new life, which I will explain to you a little later. If something makes you feel good, or gives you hope, or relief from the heaviness of grieving (as long as it is not drugs or alcohol) then follow it. You will see later, how it has changed my whole life already.
These truly are the most important lessons that I have learned through grieving. They are hard lessons and seem so simple, right? But….they truly are survival skills and are exactly what has helped us all to start rebuilding our lives.
Even though those lessons were incredibly hard, the hardest part of the year were all of the daily things that you had to go though. Again, those of you who have lost someone know exactly what I am talking about!
The biggest lesson of them all.
As I am reflecting and writing this post, the biggest lesson I learned continues to become more clear!
During this last year the sadness was overwhelming but I knew more than anything I needed to continue to be strong. Strong for my family, my brother, my niece, and my parents. Even though I was hurting so bad, I knew it just had to be that way. Which meant I had to dig deeper than I had ever dug before. As everybody needed me to be strong.
What I became aware of was the need to find comfort from somewhere. Somewhere that I could feel safe, somewhere that I could cry, be angry, whatever I needed to be, and not be judged.
Where could that place be? Did it even exist?
Then one day it was brought right before me. I have ALWAYS been an animal person. I find animals to be so incredible comforting, and I have so many animals here. Dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, ponies, rabbits, chickens, and ducks!
Who has that many animals? Apparently I do!
One day, a good friend asked me to give her daughter riding lessons. I loved being out with my animals, but had not taken the time to do so much since Dane died. When she asked, I thought it would do me good to get outside and spend some time with her daughter and my horses.
That turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Spending time out there became so incredibly healing for me. I found quickly that it was a major source of healing for me as well as everyone around me.
There has always been something about horses that connects with my soul. It became a perfect match for what I needed to gain strength, not be judged, and start that healing process.
As I became more in tune with my horses and animals, I found a passion that started stirring within me. I knew that I had to find a way to take action and pursue this new passion. If it had been my connection to healing and gaining strength, I knew it could be for others as well.
I was finally able to rally breathe and it felt amazing.
In September, my husband put some pressure on me to pursue my passion. He was looking out for me and knew not only could this become something amazing, but it could continue to heal my wounds as well.
So…he asked me to write down my dream business, what it looked like, felt like, the entire plan. So I did just that!
This is where Equine Assisted Therapy and the extension of The Giggling Life Care Farm all came to life. This all happened from becoming aware of what was healing to me during my grief, as well as watching the animals help to heal my children.
Grieving is painful, there is no way around that. The only thing that you can do is take it hour by hour and day by day.
However, by reading through this post, I am hoping that you were able to relate to a few of the items that I had mentioned. I only share my experiences with you all, because that is what I had promised to do when I started this blog.
Unfortunately, I had no idea what was coming our way. All that I can do is hope that in some small way you or someone you know will relate to this and help them to start the healing process.
In my experience, I was able to take listen to my heart while I was grieving and truly connect with my passion, and I hope that you will too.
I encourage you to step out a little and really listen to heart. Start doing the things that bring you comfort, happiness and joy. Take a leap of faith…you are worth it, and it helps you in starting that healing journey.
Although we all have a very long way to go, I am grateful to have found something that lights a fire underneath me to continue to heal and to help others on their journeys too! I appreciate you all so much, thank you for your support along this journey!
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I am excited to start this journey of Equine Assisted Therapy with you all! Thank you again for your understanding, compassion, and patience throughout this year…..it is good to be back with you all!
Thanks so stopping by! Much love to you all!