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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

February 23, 2015 - 8:41am -- Anonymous

Life is precious.  Life is complicated.  Life can be over in the blink of an eye.  January 1, 2015 I experienced the most difficult task I’ve ever done in life.  I went to say good-bye to my only sister who had been battling with a disease called myasthenia gravis for more than 15 years.  She fought a good fight, she ran a great race and she lived a life with no regrets.  She was a four letter athlete in high school, an ER nurse who thrived on the complicated cases, raised three boys and filled the role as a pastor’s wife with flying colors.  She never complained or let the challenges stand in her way for she always found a way to overcome.    We were all able to come and say our last earthly goodbyes.  Since her life celebration, I’ve found myself cherishing the tokens in life she shared with me.  Christmas ornaments, jewelry, books and decorations all take on a new meaning because they have special memories with them and there will be no more to come. 

The outpouring of cards, e-mails and support from family and friends has been incredible.  It has changed me as a person, forever.  I’m not sure where I’m at on the stages of grief, but I became more aware of those around me who also were dealing with loss and grief.  Helen Kubler- Ross outlined the stages of grief that we all go though in our own ways at our own pace.  As you read through, it might help to understand how those around you may process the loss of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job or other major life change.

  • Shock and Denial - It still seems impossible to me that she’s not here.  That I’ll never have another phone call, birthday card or walk on the beach with her.  I have many pictures and memories that I’ll cherish and it’s been helpful to talk with family and friends about her life and legacy.
  • Anger- While my head knows she is no longer in pain and suffering, my heart still struggles with “why her?”  My anger is tempered by my faith, but I can’t help but wonder “why?”
  • Depression and Detachment - Most of the time when I see the things she has given me, I can smile or laugh and sometimes I cry.  I go through the motions, I find it hard to concentrate.  I know this is all part of the process and it’s physical as well as emotional.  It’s so good to talk about her and remember the good times we had.
  • Acceptance - Life is going on and most of the time I can accept it.  I can rely on the memories to savor the time I had with her.  But I also understand that I can slip back to any of the above stages at any time and that’s ok, it’s part of the journey. 

It was privilege to be her sister.  I am a better person because of the challenge she called me to and I will be forever grateful to have her influence in my life, until we meet again.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.