Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prepare for a long, picture heavy post...

In honor of National Scrapbooking Day over on, they are hosting a challenge to complete a mini-album about yourself. It could be any topic, as long as it pertained to YOU. I struggled a lot with this idea. One, I suck at mini-albums. I don't know why they are so challenging for me. You'd think I'd see it as a bunch of card faces put together, but I just have the hardest time with them. Two, I couldn't pick a topic. I was so wishy-washy about it. Not like me at all. Usually, I'm pretty decisive. Three, I didn't have much time this week. It was a crazy busy week, with Robby's wedding, dinner plans with a friend, taking my car to the dealership for it's 50,000 mile check-up, work, etc.

I don't know when the idea came to me to do an album about my grieving process. Originally, I was going to do one about how losing Rick has changed both me and my life. My outlook on life is totally different now; I'm not the same person I was 19 months ago, that's for sure. I was struggling with the journaling when I met a new widow. I met her through my job. She had just lost her husband the day before, totally unexpectedly. I offered my condolences and we got to talking. I told her about my grieving process. I know that talking to other widows helped me, and I was hoping to help her in some small way. We talked for a long time. Then her sisters showed up and I talked to them, too. As I was leaving, she told me that I had helped her more than anyone. It got me thinking and the idea popped into my head to do a lessons learned mini album. So, that's what I did. Grief is definitely a monster. Now, here come all of the pictures. The journaling was a piece of cake, but I had the hardest time with page design. Oh, well.

Here is what the journaling says:
There are so many things I’ve learned about myself as I’ve journeyed through grief. It’s crazy how one experience can change you and your life so profoundly. You never really know just how much it will until it happens to you. Some things I’ve learned:

It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.

It’s okay to ask for what you need.

It’s okay to demand what you need.

Saying “no, thanks” doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful.

Tears are not a sign of weakness.

On a similar note, refusing to cry in front of others is not uptight or wrong.

Lack of tears is not about strength; sometimes, tears just don’t feel adequate.

The shower is a great place to cry.

If you don’t have the energy to deal with something, find someone to do it for you.

If you want to do it yourself, it’s okay to take your time.

Some things will wait. For those that won’t, don’t sweat it. Just do what you can.

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for grieving in your own way and on your own timetable.

Don’t get rid of personal effects until you are ready, and don’t let anyone rush you into giving them something.
Every loss is different. You may have all lost the same person, but that loss will affect you all in different ways, and take something different from each of you. Have patience with others, they’re trying to find their way through the path of grief, too.

Grief is like an ocean. Some killer waves will knock you on your ass. Quiet waters will make you feel complacent until that next killer wave knocks you on your ass again. It’s okay. Ride the waves, because the quiet waters come back eventually.

Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect that you’ll be fine in no time. Don’t get mad at yourself when you are not fine or when things don’t go like you expect. After all, nobody really expects what grief does. It’s not only an ocean, it’s a monster and it might take multiple battles to kick it down. Fight hard and rest between battles.

Time does not heal all wounds. It just makes them smart a little less.

Memories will pop up at unexpected times. Don’t push them away. Let them comfort you.

To paraphrase a book that really helped me, you CAN go on living when someone you love dies. You are stronger than you think, and you can pull through. Every person we meet puts their footprint on our soul and it’s our job to carry that footprint on its next journey. Live your life; it’s the best gift you can give your deceased loved one.

I warned you it'd be a long post! If you read all of that, you are a more patient person than I am!!! (oh, and thanks for doing it!)


Sara I. said...

I think thats the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I just love the idea and love all your lo's in the book. You've inspired me to do one for myself..thank you from the bottom of my heart. ~hugs

Trina said...

I read it all and think you've put together a perfect book of advise! I'm going to share this with my bf who recently lost his grandma...

Barb said...

Thanks for the brave sharing, may your journey be filled with many happy times and new blessings.

ms.schwiet said...

Looks like you were productive. It also looks therapeutic. I agree crying in the shower is great so is shouting angerly at the world while mowing grasss cause no one hears you over the sound of the mower.

Charlene said...

OMG Gina...that is the most incredible "book" that I have ever read. I clicked on each picture and read through it, and was so touched by everything that you had to say. It is definitely a "must read" for anyone that has lost someone and is going through the grieving process. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful album with us. Hugs and prayers sent to you that you will start to have more calm seas than rough ones.

Kim Kelley said...

Well you can add author to your long list of accomplishments! That is beautiful and you should think of copying it for hospital rooms. What you have written are perfect words for not just grieving processes but for having a hard time in life. Your words inspire, heal and give hope! I am so glad that I "met" you and you are in my life.

Brenda said...

Gosh Gina, as I was reading your journaling and looking at all your lovely pages I was thinking how you should write a book. Have it published and share your wisdom with all the other widows out there. you have an amazing way with words. And your pages are beautiful. I am blessed to call you friend!!
love and hugs, Brenda

Dana said...

Wow Gina!! This is truly a work of heart/art!! We lost my dad last year and your words hit home so much! Each of us have all dealt with it in a different way and in varying degrees. Your book shows very eloquently how grief is definitely a journey! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and providing us with such wonderful words of wisdom!

Guylou said...

You need to publish this!!! Wonderfully written and uplifting!!! Beautiful work!!

Izzyb said...

Gina, this is so sweet and touching. I loved your journaling. I clicked on each page to open it. Really beautiful work and great words of wisdom for anyone with a loss. Hugs to you.