Category Archives: Anniversaries

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When the Memories Flow, Even Years Later

Grandma and DaisyThis Saturday will be the 20th Anniversary of my beloved grandmother’s death at the age of 93. And I still think of her often and I miss her.

I miss her when things get tough and she’d remind me how strong I was. She’d be there to snuggle up against, just as I remember I would as a young child.

There are so many wonderful memories with her…driving to Jones Beach for dinner and her favored Manhattans. Who said 90 year-old grandmothers are not allowed to indulge too! Or the time we bought a plant of silk violets and her roommate watered them thinking they were real. Or how she would hold my little Shih-Tsu Daisy and talk to her on the terrace, as pictured here. They just loved each other so much.

As time goes on, we never forget those who loved us and whom we loved, no matter how long it’s been since they have died or were killed. Love doesn’t leave us, just because they have.

Actually, I think it remains in our spirit and is embedded within our soul. The best part is death can never take those feelings from us. Nor can anyone else.

We may fill the void with other new people who enter our lives, but the special bond we shared can never be exactly replaced.

They were unique. Our relationship was one of a kind. And even twenty years later, I smile at the wonderful times we shared, re-read the notes I found in storage which she would send to me at college. Look at the pictures, reminisce from time to time.

The sting of grief is no longer there. But the memories and the love will stay with me forever.

Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death will help you on your journey. Tell me your experiences and memories by sharing a comment.

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30 Years Ago Today…

101When I look back on my life, there are a few days that stand out with such significance that I can’t help but acknowledge them, regardless of the pain.

And while there are happy days I can recall, like when I completed both my degrees, when I was given wonderful awards for my work, when my books were published, there are several difficult days that I’ve lived that caused me and those I’ve loved great trauma.

One was the death of my beloved grandmother, who lived, almost exclusively, a healthy life till her death at 93. She was my anchor when life handed me difficult times while growing up.

Another was my little dog, Daisy, who brought me so much joy every day for almost 13 years. My constant companion, she was always there to snuggle with when I needed her most.

But there was one particular day that, when I look back on my life, shaped and changed who I was and, even though I had helped so many in my life before who had struggled with bereavement, it was her death that catapulted me into leading support groups, writing books, speaking, and starting a national foundation for grieving children.

107She is Angela.

A 10 year old who came into my life when I met her father. Her older brother was then 13 and younger just 9.

I remember her bubbly personality, her courage to ask me those most pressing questions you’d never think would come out of the mouth of such a young lady. But I answered every one and she went away satisfied.

Many who knew her longer than I described her as a firecracker. And for the short time I knew her, they were right.

I specifically remember how much she loved shopping together. How she couldn’t choose between the pink or blue cotton candy.

Or the last holiday she and her younger brother spent with us. It was Easter, 1984 and I made a special dinner for us.

At one point after dinner we took a long walk together. I wanted to purchase film that day to take a few pictures but we didn’t pick it up. And that moment was lost to me forever.

Angela at 11; her last school picture.Because just a few short months later on this day in 1984, that bright, bubbly young girl was murdered on Long Island.

And what followed were 18 years of an unsolved murder.

It took until 2002 to have enough evidence to charge the initial suspect and another two years to go to trial.

We endured a six-week emotional rollercoaster from the time they began picking a jury for her 20 year old murder, to the time he was convicted.

I often wonder what life would have been like if she were still here with us. Would she have been in my bridal party when her father and I married?

Would she have studied for a college degree? And what career might she have chosen?

Would she have married and had children? How many would she have had and what would they have looked like?

But today, I guess there is a part of me that, as my stepson texted me today, which says “I can’t believe it’s been 30 years.”

And he is so right.

Rest in Peace, Angela. You were with us for far too short a time, but the impact you had on our lives, both in life and death, will remain forever.

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9/11…We Will Always Remember

Source: Jean-Pierre Ely 2013
Freedom Tower / Source: Jean-Pierre Ely 2013
When this day approaches each year, I always think to myself, “It can’t possibly be 12 years since 9/11.”

But it is…and I find myself shaking my head again. Same as I do each year…shaking my head in amazement.

Yet it’s a day anyone who was an adult then, will always remember.

They’ll remember where they were, what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks, and mostly, who they knew who was either killed or affected by this tragedy.

Sometimes people who weren’t deeply affected by this day will often wonder how the families can keep coming back for more pain, especially by the reading of the names at the World Trade Center.

And my answer is that when a loved one is taken so suddenly, it takes many years to let it sink in. And in this case, many more.

But regardless of how long ago a person has died, when the anniversary of their death comes around, it triggers memories and there isn’t anything one can do to act like those emotions don’t exist.

They do and they hurt. And while a person may feel very emotionally stable the other parts of the year, when that day comes, sometimes a flood of emotions come with it.

And there is nothing to feel guilty about; it is all natural.

So on this day, to the family members and friends of those who were killed…whatever you are feeling…feel it. Embrace it. And after the pain has softened…begin again.

We all love you regardless of how you express your pain on this 12th Anniversary. You are entitled to it all.

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If you need help after the death of a loved one, start by picking up your copy of my best-selling book Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death, available on Kindle and in Paperback.