Loving, Remembering & Honoring Those We’ve Lost

Today is the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.

We moved to Boston 4 months after, but from the moment we came the love, compassion, strength, unity and resilience was felt throughout the community. Boston Strong is exactly how I would describe the city’s response to the terrible tragedy.

Today would have also been my Mom’s 67th birthday. She died on April 2, a few weeks before her 53 birthday, 14 years ago from a recurrence of breast cancer.

I was 22. My sisters were 18 and 15.

Her death felt like a tragedy to us, but she died peacefully while on vacation in Sanibel Island, Florida after a long battle with the disease.

One year ago today, we also lost another amazing women, 10 days before her 100th birthday. Mayme was our 2nd mom growing up, our nanny & housekeeper. She was with our family almost every day from the day my middle sister was brought home from the hospital in 1981 until our Mom died in 2000. She not only helped raise 3 girls, she took care of Mom when she was dying from cancer.

Whether you have lost a loved one from a senseless act of violence, a terrible tragedy, an illness or natural causes of death, there is a common need to continue loving, remembering, and honoring those that have died.

At my mom’s funeral, someone told me that it had been 25 years since she lost her mother, but not a day had gone by that she didn’t miss her deeply.

My stomach dropped because I could not imagine feeling the intense pain of missing her for 25 more years. That was a horrible thought to imagine. Fortunately, it did not end up being true. I still miss her and think of her often, but not every day and the pain has diminished.

Time does seem to heal.  We all have different ways of grieving, but I have found that honoring and remembering my mom has truly helped and continues to help my healing.

My dad, sisters and I have done several things over the past 14 years to honor Mom.

A few weeks after she died, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held on her birthday. We had a great group of our friends and family come together that today to walk & run the 5k in her honor.

We mailed a card out on the 5th anniversary, had a huge party on the 10th anniversary, and plan to travel back to Sanibel Island, Florida on the 15th anniversary.

Every year since she died, we have either done a tribute in the newspaper, on a blog, or Facebook and sometimes all three.

Mom loved to write and was a published author, which may be part of the reason why we seem to love to write about her!

My middle sister started a blog six years ago when she went in labor at 23 weeks with her twin boys. They were born at 26 weeks and 1 day and they are truly a miracle. When they were 2 months old, on the 8th anniversary of her death, she wrote about how Mom was with them every step of the way.

My youngest sister wrote a letter to Mom on the 12th anniversary of her death and Dad wrote a wonderful tribute on her birthday 2 years ago.

She encouraged and taught me about unconditional love, which is core of this blog. I write about her often and will continue to honor her through sharing her messages of love, hope, non-judgement, faith, forgiveness, compassion, meditation, and most importantly: authenticity. She was not perfect and she had her faults, as we all do, but that is why I still have so much love for her and know she can continue to be an inspiration.

On Monday over 30,000 people will step to the starting line to complete the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of the survivors, in memory of the 4 people who lost their lives, and in support of not only the city of Boston, but the nation. What an amazing tribute to be able to cross the finish line, where the bomb went off a year before, after finishing 26.2 miles.

Whether it’s running a race, raising money for a meaningful cause, setting up a foundation or scholarship in memory of, writing in a personal journal or published work, having a party, going to dinner with close family members, bringing flowers to the grave site or changing your life for the better in honor of your loved one, finding some way to continue loving and remembering seems to help the healing process.

I will continue to use this blog as a way to share positive messages from my mom. What do you do to heal and honor the loved ones you have lost?