What is the recipe for grief?

There is no recipe for grief.

Years after the deaths of my sisters, my complicated grief program required that I incorporate self-compassion into my practice of forgiveness. I learned to repeat this thought: I did the best I could at the time. I am amazing now. These words were crucial.

As a figure skater, I thought of this like learning a new element on the ice. I’d break down the element into segments, put the pieces back together, and practice the skill over and over hundreds of times until it was mastered.

Thirty Years of Dormant Grief

My sisters Margie and Jane had been dormant in my life for close to thirty years. My parents wouldn’t talk about them, so neither did I. I shut down, closed doors.

My forgiveness training would restore my sisters back into my life and would also restore myself as a functioning human being not “defined by grief.” Restoration exercises included looking at photos, telling stories about Margie and Jane, and rereading their precious cards and letters.

Trained athletes do this; so do grieving people. It never stops. Varying degrees of training. Varying degrees of grieving.

‘Lost Time’

Thirty years was half my life. The unrelenting layers of questions, doubts, and what-ifs had spiraled through my head the entire time. When I looked back at the landscape of my life, I recognized that those thirty years could be thought of as “lost time.”

I tried to rationalize that I did the best I could at that time under the circumstances. And I reminded myself how grateful I was to be undertaking this hard grief work. But my heart would not allow me the freedom of forgiveness. My brain needed an alternative pathway to peace.

But healing has taken place—through forgiveness and in acknowledging regret. After my sisters died, I never spoke of it. Now when I meet someone new, I say, “I am the middle of three. Sadly, I lost both of my sisters.”

Visit Judy Lipson’s website: Judy Lipson – Home


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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