It will soon be two years since my dear sister was murdered.  Two years. Sometimes it seems like forever, yet most days, it seems like only yesterday. 
Over the last two years, I have worked very hard on myself.  I have learned patience. I have learned to really not sweat the small stuff.  I have learned to let go of things I cannot control.  I have learned to make changes, healthy changes for myself.  It is a process, a journey that we travel after losing a loved one.
It took me some time, but the first thing I had to do was Decide. Decide what I could do to help myself.  Decide what was important, what was not.  I made lists, I talked to myself, I talked to my departed sister. I decided what I wanted and needed to do. 
The decisions I made led me to the second D. De-clutter.  I looked around my home and saw stuff. Just stuff. Losing my sister really drove home the fact that stuff is just that, stuff.  I have a few cherished possessions that I would never want to lose, but for the most part as I look around my home, most everything here is replaceable.  So I de clutter. It’s an ongoing process. I clean out my closet only to go back a month later and clean it out again. 
My rule is if I haven’t worn it or used it for a year, it’s donated or given away.  De cluttering makes me feel better.  Lighter.  At my age, I have everything I need and there is very little that I want.  I am finally past that “I want this or that” stage.  I really want nothing I can buy. I want what is important. I want good health. I want to spend time with my family. I want to spoil my grandson with love and wonderful moments together.  I want to make my elderly Mother as comfortable as I can.  Other than paying for the good health, everything else just takes me, being me. 
The third D came from my doctor. For well over a year, she has been telling me I need to de-stress my life.  I always thought, yeah right, and how do I do that?  I have a very stressful job, or at least I allow it to be stressful.  I have to work, right?  My sister’s murder trial has yet to happen. It’s stressful, the waiting, the wondering, the speculating.  I can’t control that trial, that situation, so I have to live with a little of the stress it brings. 
My job on the other hand, I don’t have to live with.  As difficult as it is to change jobs at my age, let alone finding a new job, I thought I was stuck with the job I have.  It took a complete meltdown at work to make me realize I had to change something.   I took a few days and thought long and hard about my options.  Again, I made lists, I talked to myself and I talked to my sister.  I made the decision.  I demoted myself.  I talked to the higher ups about it and although shocked, they accepted my decision. 
With the demotion comes a little less pay, which is doable for me.  The demotion also decreases my work week from 60-65 hours a week to a mere 50 hours a week!  What will I do with those extra hours each week?  Spend time with my Mother, my children, my grandson, my family.  Spend time writing, something I love to do.  Spend time de-cluttering. Spend time doing whatever I decide to do.  The demotion also brings less responsibility which equates to less stress. I already feel the relief. I feel lighter, I breath deeper, I even slept soundly last night. 
I remember being told shortly after my sister’s death that I would go through some kind of transformation.  I think this is it.  It takes time and some hard work, but it does happen.  I continue to talk to my sister. I can see her in my mind, smiling down on me.  Knowing her little sister is going to be just fine.  Knowing her little sister is finding her way.  Finally!
Shirley Wiles-Dickinson 2011

Shirley Wiles-Dickinson

Shirley Wiles-Dickinson is the youngest of four girls in a Midwestern family. In 2009, her sister was brutally murdered. She writes about her experience following this loss.

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