Why is grief still such an uncomfortable word for so many? It is a conversation that makes some people cringe. They do not have the tools to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t understand, please enlighten me.” I hope that by initiating more openness and discussions, the pattern will change. My message to others is practice self-compassion when grieving.

For me, the path took thirty years to mourn my beloved sisters Margie and Jane. When ready to commence, break down the walls, an entire breadth and depth of my life ensued. There will always be a hole in my heart, but today I can remember Margie and Jane with the very deepest love and smile. The journey to complete the manuscript of my new book, Celebration of Sisters, proved to be empowering, challenging, healing and could not have completed without the aid of wonderful people throughout the process.

Siblings are the forgotten mourners and a category of mourners there is so little written.

Siblings take on the role of caretakers of our parents, our children, or other family members. Our grief takes a back seat not allowing us to mourn on our time. Whenever we do, losing a sibling is a bond we forever share. Our siblings who we thought would share our past, present and future are no longer writing the history with us. Who are we without our siblings?

Numerous siblings have had the courage to share their stories and written wonderful books that I read and provided me comfort knowing others shared my path and validated my feelings no one else understood.

The debut of my book is significant and meaningful. It will coincide with the decade of the annual ice skating fundraiser Celebration of Sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital, the fortieth anniversary of the death of my sister Jane, and I will turn sixty-five.

All of these milestones always held a cloud. I needed a shift the direction to ease the immense pain the days annually presented. My birthday always held a cloud. The last time I saw my sister Jane was to celebrate my twenty fifth birthday. Celebration of Sisters is in November to ease the focus around Margie and Jane’s birthdays on November 6 and 8. It was self-compassion while I grieved.

Due to the pandemic, Celebration of Sisters 2020 was postponed.  Skating is my passion, my joy, my mediation, and where I feel connected to my sisters. Margie had the true talent and Jane and I skated recreationally. Throughout my life I skated and it remained the chord that pulled me to my sisters and after thirty years came full circle to honor them.

With the COVID-19 restrictions this past year, my time on the ice sporadic and infrequent definitely impacted me emotionally. The ice a strong connection to Margie and Jane. On the ice I feel a lightness, and remember the shy insecure girl who skating provided the confidence to be me, share my sisters in Celebration of Sisters, and remember three sisters giggling and racing to be first on the ice. I realize that every time I am on the ice during the pandemic is a gift and relish every moment.

In 2018, I suffered a concussion on the ice and was advised by doctors to end my skating. The thought of not performing in Celebration of Sisters to honor my sisters daunted me. I proved them wrong, gave a performance (albeit not my strongest) and continued to ice skate. That year, I began diligently working on my memoir. In my mind constantly is the US Figure Skating platform We Get Up applicable on the ice and off.

I hope in sharing my story, another individual will practice self-compassion in their grieving.

Purchase Judy Lipson’s latest book at Amazon.com: Celebration of Sisters: It’s Never Too Late to Grieve (9781608082674): Lipson, Judy: Books.

Read more of Judy Lipson’s articles here.

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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