Grief Does Not Define Me

When my daughter told me that grief defined me, I felt like I had been punched in my gut. After years of presenting a happy persona, and not talking about my beloved sisters Margie and Jane, I learned that my acting skills would not win an Oscar. Her words forced me to switch the narrative from grief does not define me to grief is a part of me.

Losing my two sisters forty-two and thirty-three years ago forever changed my life. This is my life, my story, and embracing this truth has lifted a burden of aloneness. I have found that Margie and Jane’s friends wanted to talk about them.

I’m often asked: How many siblings do you have? Today I say, “I am Judy Lipson, the middle of three who sadly lost both her sisters.” This statement and mantra took me decades to speak. For decades I said, “It’s just me.” So I held back, unable to relay my truth because of my own uncertainty.

Grief Will Always be Part of Me

I have come to realize that the loss of Margie and Jane will always be part of me. For years I put up walls, unable to talk about Margie and Jane, horrified by the memories lost.

I miss three Lipson sisters, dressed in matching denim dresses singing, “Side by Side,” at a camp talent show. Margie, the oldest insisted being center and closest to the microphone. I relished the three of us taking up most of the carpool that drove us to camp. I loved the time we got dressed up on a Sunday (with our party dresses, lace ankle socks and Mary Janes) for an excursion into downtown Boston. We ate a special dinner and fed the birds in the Boston Common. Our distinct personalities were clear in our stance and in how we approach the birds.

Today, I cling to the memories, sharing stories, the brightest smiles of Margie and Jane. I envision the two giggling or teasing me, Judy, the shy middle sister, skating in ice shows she never dreamed possible.

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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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