Memorializing Our Loved Ones

Brooke photo

Brooke’s Hiking Group Bracelets

I was chatting with a student when I noticed she had a pink bracelet. She went on to share with me that a dear friend of hers, Brooke, had just passed away. The student had made their hiking group bracelets and then went to Brooke’s favorite hiking spot–to pray, meditate, and remember her. The group photo shows the hiking group wearing their memorial bracelets.

I am always touched and blessed by the amazing ways people honor those their deceased loved ones. Whether the loved one is friend, family, or colleague those of us who miss them want to honor them and connect with them. I have been collecting various ways that is done. I think part of the reason, is I want to find a way to memorialize my sister.

 

My SISTER bracelet & cowboy boot charm

I have included a picture of my SISTER bracelet, that is the exact match of hers. I had purchased them many years ago. When Debbie passed away, I retrieved hers to keep. I still wear mine at times.  I also have been collecting charms that remind me of her.

 

She was cowgirl and loved her cowboy boots–so when I was looking at various charms–I had to have this one.

 

20140827_151720

Sticker placed in Rear Car Window

 

I hope you enjoy a few ways I have discovered. I included a thoughtful way to share your love and loss with others–a memorial sticker.

 

 

Feel free share ways you honor or memorialize your loved ones

Advertisements

Dash of Poetry for the Holiday

Tick, Tock,
I can hear the clock.
The calendar pages are ripping,
Day by day,
It comes.

Grave marker w/ xmas tree

Bright, lights
I can see the trees
The season is approaching
Gift by gift,
It comes.

Beat, Beat,
I can feel my heart
The anxiety is mounting
Step by step
It comes.

Grief, grief
I can feel my loss
The sorrow is drowning
Tear by tear
It comes.

Wait, stop
Reach for Him
The prayer is lifting
Moment by moment
It is here

 

*The holiday season can be a difficult time, especially after the death of a loved one. Reach out and get the care you need.  Here are links to my “go to sites.”

  • Kara specific for death of loved ones–all ages

The link includes “Holiday Survivorship Skills”

The link includes s/sx of grief, complicated grief, etc.

What does cinnamon candy & cheese slices have in common?

One thing about memories is you can’t control when they will pop into your mind. This is especially true for memories of our departed loved ones. A recent example illustrates this point. I love all kinds of cinnamon candy and the hotter the better.  I recently discovered that my husband loves them too, as he was eating two and three cinnamon breath mints at a time. WOW! That’s even too hot for me!

We were reminiscing about the different cinnamon candy and treats that were available when we were in high school—remember the cinnamon toothpicks! As we chatted about the hottest cinnamon candy and comparing the intensities of Jolly Ranchers to cinnamon bears, red hots and hot tamales, I remembered a funny event involving Debbie and I.

About 18 or so years ago my husband and I, with our two daughters drove back to Wyoming to visit my sister. We had pulled an all-nighter, peddle-to-the ground road trip driving straight through from California. We arrived at Debbie’s house at about 4 am and immediately crashed into bed.cinnamon jolly ranchers

When I woke up a few hours later, I went looking for my purse. I found it by the front door,where upon my exhausted arrival I had dropped it. Next to my purse was Debbie’s purse similar in style. Upon closer inspection both purses contained a bag of cinnamon Jolly Ranchers.  It was hilarious! Living so far apart and not being able to “spend time”together we were both amazed by our similar tastes in styles and snacks!

As I was learning about my husband’s love for cinnamon candy, this heart-warming memory surfaced. How sisters separated by years and miles, were seemingly genetically engineered to love cinnamon Jolly Ranchers. Even now, the memory brings a smile to my face.

The sliced cheese is an even older story that my mom loves to tell. When Debbie was about 2 years old, she loved those individually wrapped American cheese slices. Maybe love is not a strong enough word—she craved those little slices. One day, she walked over to the neighbors, politely knocked on their door and asked for a slice of cheese.  My mother had visited the neighbor in the past who had kindly given my sister a slice of cheese. Well, in a 2 year old’s mind, why not go back for more!

Both of these sweet memories of my sister came into my heart and mind this week; and I feel blessed. The main reason these are joyful memories is I am at a good place in my grief, so that missing her stirs happy moments. Thank you, Lord!

A Happy Birthday Letter!

Birthdays of our deceased loved ones can be difficult days. As a nurse, I have encouraged family members to plan on birthdays as “sucky” days. Now, that I am more than a casual observer or educated professional, planning can help, but it still sucks.  So what can we do? Well, one of the things I do is write my sister a letter. I mean literally a letter. For those of you who are younger than 30 or so, I take out a piece of paper (nothing fancy) and a cool pen (I am totally into pens!) and hand write a letter. No texting, no emails, no facebook postings–a letter that normally would go through the post office or snail mail. Sounds crazy and a bit sad, but I like it!

Part of the reason I like it, is that I feel like I am updating my sister on everything that is going on. I have read historical fiction/non-fiction books that include excerpts of a letter from a daughter who came out west in the 1800’s. Or letters from sons written during the Civil War.  The letters give such a real-life, first person account.

This is how I feel. I am reaching across the expanse of time and space to tell Debbie what is going on.  For example, this year’s birthday letter included a note about writing the memoir. I shared how I hoped she will like it and that it will honor her memory. I know, I know it sounds psycho! But, I don’t care. When I am writing this letter I feel like I am talking to her and she is close to me. Also, I don’t feel like she is missing events that are happening in our family’s life. I update her on how our parents are doing and what her sons are doing.  I also update her on our grief. How much I miss her and the problem my mom had choosing a headstone.

Once the letter is completed, I fold it up and put it in an envelope and mark it–Happy Birthday, 2014. I have also written a letter for Christmas and include a Christmas family photo.  In ten or twenty years from now, I envision opening the letters up and reading through all the life events she has missed.  It sounds heartbreaking and I am sure it will be; YET, it will be better to have a record of all I have shared with her. Instead of the alternative–which is ZIPPO–as if she wasn’t my sister anymore.

Dear Debbie,

Dear Debbie,

My Sister’s Green Chili continued

Well, I never did find the green chili powder, so my daughter and I gave the recipe a whirl without substitutions. I am glad we did.  The aroma of roasted pork fused with oregano and garlic with hints of green chilies wafted throughout the kitchen.  It was an amazing warm stew-type dish. A bowl of the hearty meat mixture went well with soft corn tortillas and queso fresco cheese.

When I had completed the cooking, the eating and was driving home with my share of the bounty; I felt disappointed. I had envisioned the experience as one of fun and laughter, like many family cooking adventures. I went into this project with the full knowledge that I was dancing around the grief process and could get burned.  Anyone in the grief process knows what I mean. You crack your heart open and start stirring the pot of feelings, memories, etc and you are going to get singed by the rawness.

As the emotional event percolated from my soul through my mind, I realized I was experiencing a letdown of sorts.  I couldn’t reinvent a day and experience my sister. Yes, I could take her favorite recipe and think about it and talk about her, but in the end she wasn’t here to cook with. In my memoir,  I call it “yearning”. We do things to connect with the person who is no longer here. For the first time since her death, I was more disappointing then soothing. In some ways, it made me feel sadder and even more aware of the emptiness that she once occupied.

The craziness of grief is I will probably keep doing things to feel close to her. Reminisce with my mom; talk with her kids, and other activities that bring her back into my life. No matter how disappointing or fleeting it may be.

Hand approaches hot burner

 

 

Pray4Me

prayer room in Taipai airport

Prayer Room in Taipai, Taiwan Airport

One of the most powerful and important things we do as humans is PRAY! I say humans for I have discovered that most people pray. Face it anytime we are facing devastating news, struggling with relationships, or diagnosed with an illness or disease, we pray! Prayer is especially important for Christians. It is the means in which we communicate with God. Not just to give him our to-do list, but he gives us his to-do list, as well.

Anyway, all this to say I want to pray for you!

  • I encourage you to submit a prayer request in one of the following ways:
    • you can add a comment to this blog
    • follow me @carriedameron #pray4me
    • Fill out the form below–and I will receive an email

Either way I will pray for you. Just a word about my prayers. I am a Christian, thus I will pray to God and use verses from the Bible as part of my prayers for you.

  • I have also created a category entitled “PRAYER” so if you want to learn more about prayer, especially as related to nursing or health care.

My Sister’s Green Chili

I am planning on cooking my sister’s famous Green Chili.  Let’s clarify, famous in regards to our family and friends; not famous as in tv show or cookbook.  At her grave site service which was less formal and with mostly family, everyone raved about Debbie’s green chili.  We were pleased when her husband distributed copies of the recipe.

I have fond memories of chatting with her on the phone, while she was busy cooking her green chili for her office Christmas party.  She would be cooking until 2 or 3 in the morning chopping and cooking.  Many things stand out in my mind about this memory. First, that she would be up all night cooking. I am not a late night person, like she was. I am the one who gets up at 4 in the morning to get a head start. Second, her secret ingredient is green chili powder. Even though I live in California, I am having a hard time finding it.

Cooking her green chili is going to be a challenge. The recipe is just list of ingredients no directions and lots of scribbles. My first challenge is to take what I have and somehow put it together. Maybe now is the time to confess. I have never had her green chili before. I have heard how great it was from our family and her friends.  But, have never actually tasted it. We would see each other maybe every year or two and our time together did not include cooking her chili. Instead we would have summer picnics and barbeques.

Another challenge is her tweaking. Debbie, had taken the recipe originally given to her by a neighbor and had been modifying parts of the recipe for the best results. Not that the original wasn’t outstanding, for I am sure it was. But, my sister and I are a family of tweakers. Not like meth users. Instead we take a recipe and say, “Hmm, let’s make changes. Spice it up a bit; add more onions and most definitely more garlic!”

My sister is not only a tweaker, but the recipe is technically in her head. Yes, many of us are guilty of having an outline of a recipe, but the true details and nuances stuck in the gray matter.  So here I am. I have most of the ingredients and the pork is cooking away. Tomorrow, I am going over to my daughter’s house. We both love to cook and I am anxious to see how Debbie’s famous green chili turns out. We have her scribbles with no clear directions of what to do after we shred the pork, but we will do our best. Check back and I will share with you the results.Soup image