Gratitude While Grieving

I do not believe in making New Year’s resolutions, but believe in stating what I am grateful for. After all that we have lost, how are we different today than a year ago? How has our perspective on things changed? And what are we grateful for?

In December, we welcomed grandson number two who arrived five weeks early. So grateful he is in good health, home, thriving and has the love of family around him.

I recall the birth of grandson number one and how my emotions bubbled up, the contrast of extreme feelings of joy to the contrast of raw sadness when I lost my sisters. Where there is grief, there is love.

As a mother, my heart overflowed watching my daughter hold her child. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I stood and watched the two in awe, the baby’s nose a carbon copy of his mother’s. She sat so naturally, beaming, glowing, her husband holding her hand. The two loving  parents navigated this journey with strength and courage.

Grateful for Family

At five weeks, we celebrated him with the Bris ceremony, a traditional Jewish tradition. I felt grateful to have my entire family gathered together–my mother, two daughters, two sons-in-laws and two grandsons. Four generations joined to mark this milestone.

Why did I spend the following days in tears? It was a joyous occasion filled with immense love. But there was a hole missing where my beloved sisters Margie and Jane should have been. Seeing my daughters together as sisters, and my grandsons as cousins, I missed the gift of my sisters.

What I am grateful for is that I am allowing myself to feel these emotions and acknowledging that grief is part of me. I can feel both joy and grief with love surrounding both.

Grateful for Grief

The other piece of the day I am grateful for is a conversation I had with my ninety-one-year-old mother after forty-one years. For the first time, we had an honest talk about grief. She never talked about my sisters with me because of her own grief and trying to protect me.

I told her how alone I felt. I had no one to share my grief and I felt I had to take care of my parents. As I say it is never too late to grieve, and now I would add it is never too late to have conversations with family about how you different you handle your grief. What an emotional roller coaster it has been!

My daughters filled a void and brought sunshine to my parents after losing my beloved sisters. Grandchildren remind us of a new life, a new focus, an innocence, and a new joy. We never forget what we lost, they are forever with us, part of us. Our legacy continues. We can meld our past with our future generations.

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Judy Lipson

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 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. Ice skating is a sport shared by me and my sisters and a chord throughout my life. It has brought me full circle to pay tribute to my sisters and bring me joy, peace, healing and the recipient of the US Figure Skating 2020 Get Up Award. My memoir Celebration of Sisters: It is Never Too Late To Grieve will be published in December 2021. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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