It’s Never Too Late to Grieve

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How do I make peace and forgiveness with myself for not grieving and mourning my sisters Margie and Jane for 30 years? It is more the regrets, of years lost, of memories forgotten, of a soul missing, of dreams shattered, of a hole in my heart. Was the the pain too hard? I got used to being so alone and having no one to share my grief or my sisters with. I had no one to walk with me on a path so complex and confusing I did not know how to navigate. I also lacked understanding of being my own advocate and my own voice.

In our 20s, our lives are so precarious, evolving our own course of growth. In 1981, at age 25, I had been thrown a tidal wave of loss. What do you do? How do you know what you need or how to ask for help?

I can remember there would be times driving in the car and a tsunami of sobs overcame me for no reason. I cried uncontrollably. I guess a part of me did not believe or did not want to believe Jane and Margie’s deaths were real. I felt completely crushed. Is this my life? How could this have happened?

My memories are fragmented at best and one stands out vividly. One of my mother’s friends said to me to not be upset because you will forget what your sisters look like and not recall their voices. That always horrified me. I never wanted to forget. Suppressing the grief for 30 years impacted this nightmare.

As I began the process of remembering and reached out to Margie and Jane’s friends, my heart warmed that after so many years, Margie and Jane are not forgotten. Their friends share stories that I am now ready to hear. I only wish I reached out to them earlier. The funny, the sad, the hard, the challenging, all of it, no more secrets, encompassing the sum of my beautiful sisters and part of me. I need the entire picture to feel whole.

Jane’s friend told me how they used to go through my room and how adamant Jane was that they put everything back just how they found it. I find this so funny as I always thought Jane did not think of me cool enough for her and her friends. A friend of Margie’s shared with me with how Margie took her to an event that changed her life and career in a positive way. Other stories not so colorful and enchanting but still part of the total package about who my treasured sisters were.

A part of me is distressed that I cannot recall what were my sisters’ favorite colors? What did we fight about? Laugh about? What were their favorite foods? Their favorite games? Our best kept secrets? Now as I look at pictures memories are beginning to return. The small details really are not important, what is important is who my sisters were and how much love we shared.

Thirty years is a long time. My daughters are about that age, longer than my sisters lived, half of my life, but never too late to grieve. Will I ever make peace and forgive myself? I am working on it. The process is incredibly difficult. I think a piece of me will never forgive myself. I do need to have compassion for a young woman who at age 25 and 33 faced tragedies and challenges alone yet preserved her life as best she could.

My life forever changed. I changed. My relationships changed. Is this what I dreamed of, of course not. This is me, my life, who I am. Change can define a new outlook, new beginnings, reconnections, and a deeper empathy and compassion for self and definitely for others.

 

 

Judy Lipson

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I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. I lost my younger beloved sister Jane died at age 22 in an automobile accident in 1981, and my older beloved sister Margie passed away at age 35 after a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia in 1990. I am the sole surviving sibling. As the Founder and Chair of “Celebration of Sisters,” this annual ice skating fundraiser honors and commemorates the lives and memories of my beloved sisters to benefit The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. The event is scheduled the first Sunday in November as Jane’s birthday was November 6th and Margie’s November 8th. We celebrate all lost siblings, their legacies as they live on in all of us. Since the inception of Celebration of Sisters in 2011, I have embarked on the journey to mourn the losses of my beloved sisters that had been suppressed for 30 years. The process unmistakably the greatest challenging time in my life proved to be the most empowering, enlightening and freeing. Now that I am allowing my sisters and their memories to return to my heart where they truly belong, I am re-discovering myself, happier and more at peace. I share my love of ice-skating as a skating instructor in the learn to skate programs at the Babson Skating School and Bay State Skating School, and as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Therapeutic Skating Program at The Skating Club of Boston. I live in Boston and am the mother of two grown daughters. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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