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Archive for April, 2011

Wrecking ball in use during demolition of the ...

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I have been driving the same route to work for the last four and a half years. I take 60th Street from my part of town to Brown Deer. I see the same sights and the same people and the same vehicles almost every morning. 

Recently, my landscape has changed. There is an apartment complex at 60th andSilver Spring that is being demolished. And we’re not talking one building here – each building has about 8 apartments I would imagine, and there are at least six buildings – approximately 50 families lived there. I heard on the news that there were code violations left and right, and that the owner/landlord refused to do the required upkeep, so the city condemned them. One new source even went so far as to say that this project is to serve as an “example” to other…dare I say it…slumlords. 

My heart hurts a little bit each day I drive by. At first I just saw a lot of tape and garbage bags on the windows. But when the first building came down – and I mean down, there’s nothing left but the foundation – I realized the impact this must have on the community. 

We talk about serving people who are suffering many kinds of losses here at the Grief Resource Center, and I wish there was a way for us to reach out to the families who lived there. Can you imagine, being notified by the city that your home has been condemned, by no fault of your own, and you must leave, immediately? It blows my mind, and it makes me sad. In earlier blogs I’ve talked about the comforts of home – my safe haven, the place where I feel most comfortable and at peace. It truly breaks my heart to think of the people I used to see – the grown-ups sitting on front stoops, the kids running around the yards, now without a home. 

I hope that if any of our readers know someone who has lost a home – either through a situation like I’ve described, or a natural disaster, foreclosure, fire, or even through a divorce – they’ll use our services. We’re here to help people deal with loss. The loss of a home is life-changing and devastating. My heart goes out to those dealing with displacement and those who don’t have a safe haven to retreat to at the end of the day.

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USA flag at half-mast during Memorial Day. The...

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Memorial Day is fast approaching, and every year it brings about a little bit of melancholy for me. My Grandma owned Memorial Day. More so than any other holiday, I remember her gearing up for the celebration – helping find someone to read off the roll-call of soldiers buried in the tiny rural cemetery, making sure there were exactly the right number of flags and flowers to decorate each grave, recruiting the church ladies to bake sweet treats for the people to enjoy after the march. And on the actual day, my grandma would round up every kid in the church and somehow get them lined up, shortest to tallest, stop traffic on a busy county highway, and parade everyone over to the cemetery to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers. 

It seems like a different world. Most people I know take Memorial Day as a long weekend meant to kick off the summer – a reason for Sunday Fun-day and no work on Monday. But I have only missed one Memorial Day service in my life (the year I moved toArizona) and it’s an important tradition for me to keep. 

The year my Grandma died, she was at a hospice in-patient facility on Memorial Day. She had painstakingly hand-written the map of the graves in the cemetery and asked (told?) my mom to take over he duties. That was a hard year, but she was so proud when we visited afterward and reported our success. The next year, after she was gone, I cried through the entire service. 

That was eight years ago. This year my mom asked me if I would read the roll-call of soldiers in front of the church. I remember as a kid wishing and hoping I could someday read the roll. So now, given the opportunity, I feel sad. I wish Grandma was there to see me and hear my practiced voice read each name clearly and without mistake (I hope!) She would be proud that we still place importance on this day. She would have never guessed though, that now, for me, Memorial Day is about her.

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Spring tree

Image by macieklew via Flickr

There are hints of spring in the air. Some warmer days, more sunshine, flowers beginning to pop out of the soil. Many people are expressing happiness and joy at these signs. Often people are surprised with their reaction to the change of the season when they are going through grief. For many, the new season can intensify their grief. Any new sign induces memories of activities enjoyed together during this time of the year, brings reminders of life moving on without this person in your life, and thoughts of what your loved one enjoyed about this time of year.
 
Acknowledge the sadness that comes with these changes. Know that its normal for grief to intensify right now. Spring brings about some holidays often overlooked as intensifying grief–Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day. Although not as recognized as much as the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza season, these holidays are still significant.
 
Remember as well to mark the change in the seasons in a way that would honor your loved one. One lady told me that she is planting a memorial garden in honor of her husband. Another is looking forward to getting outdoors to do some of the activities she shared with her husband. Although it will be a mix of sadness and joy in doing these activities alone, she stated that they bring her joy as well because they meant so much to both of them.
 
And if you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for about spring, this might help. A co-worker told me this week that it is 7.5 months until December. That we get a break from the winter of life and the winter of grief with more sunshine and warmer weather is something remarkable. And worth a small token of thanksgiving.

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