Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Throw Away the Absentee List

It can't be easy being around someone who is dealing with horrible grief, especially if the grief is exaggerated by already existing anxiety and depression. We also can't fake being happy all the time, so there's a fine line between being real (even if it's a deep depressive state) and being accepting of all that has happened. I totally understand the concept of happy attracts happy, and the opposite alike. It's a dark place to be in when you're grieving, but it's also a dark place for anyone trying to help that person whose tears are literally drowning you out of their presence. And if you're the type of person that has broad shoulders and can be there during the times of somebody grieving, hats off to you. Not many are able to do that. We all have our trials and tribulations in life, so the amount of sharing is up to you, and it's up to the person who receives the 'sharing' to take a step back. We can only handle so much, but sometimes, it's nice when someone can lift us up when we're at our lowest points. I would never want to become a burden on anyone. I try to share as little as possible when I'm in someone's company. On my blog -- that's a whole different story. You can just "X" out when you feel like it -- when it gets too much. But right now, it's my time to purge. If you wish to stay, then thank you. Or maybe you can relate and get something out of this. I'm not just crying a river over here, I'm also telling others what helps me feel better -- so it's not all doom and gloom. (I hope.)

Yesterday afternoon, my friend texted me to see if I was okay. I told her I was doing crappy and couldn't shake this feeling of dread. She told me to something that I would've typically rolled my eyes at. She said, "Listen to worship music." I can't tell you how much I detest worship music, because there's really no melody in most of the songs -- it's noise and has no rhythm -- so I thought. When my partner turns in on, I'm like, "Stop! I can't listen to this! It gives me anxiety!" She just looks at me like the devil himself. I was so desperate that I turned it on while doing my errands. I don't know what happened, but it instantly made me feel better. My mood lifted and the entire energy in my home changed from dreadful to peaceful. I do believe that sometimes we're being attacked. God doesn't put the spirit of fear and dread into your heart -- only the devil does that. So when these songs are playing loudly, it drives out the bad energy. I experienced it for myself. I may not like the tunes so much, and perhaps it'll grow on me, but the messages, the calling of Jesus itself is calling the angels in to help with whatever you need. I'm a believer!

Once again (and again and again), I have cut back on the wine. I slept like a baby last night. I think when the alcohol wears off on me, my anxiety comes out tenfold. Since I stopped drinking the wine during the week now, I'm sleeping normally, and get very few myoclonic jerks and no seizures. There has to be something said about that. I'm not quitting my 'grape juice' -- I'm just limiting my intake. I think with everything that has happened in my life recently, I reached for the wine a little more than I should've.

I'm learning the hard way that you're all you got. I'm all I got in this world. I am solely dependent on God alone. Having this sort of mindset is helping me a lot, because things are starting to happen that doesn't make sense. Things are starting to work out better and good things are falling in my lap that I never expected. I'm in a good place, even though the worst thing in the world happened to me. Grieving doesn't have to destroy you. We all have to do it in our lifetime. The only thing you have to focus on is God. Take care of YOU by relying on God. Throw away the word "independent" and be DEPENDENT on God only. Stop yourself when you want to call somebody for help. Go to God first. See how that works out for you instead of relying on a human being to fix all your needs. For me, when I do this -- something falls into place where God gives me the help that I need. It may not be the help that I want -- but it helps me regardless. Sometimes it's even greater than I expected.

With great expectations, comes disappointments when it comes to people. I have learned that not everyone cares about what you are going through. You cannot control that. The only thing you can do is be an example of the conquerer you are. Your struggle as well as your victory will be a testimony. Thank God by praising Him for all He has done for you. I'm in the "reality slap" phase of grief right now. It screams out, "THIS IS LIFE, suck it up or suffer!" This whole anxiety thing is so incredibly stupid. I mean that in terms of -- look what our minds can do to us... I mean, sometimes I can't even walk out of the door because I'm paralyzed with fear. But I keep in mind that I am safer out in the world than I am in the confines of my own home. Anxiety isn't logical. It's a torturer. My attacks have been quite severe, but I'm a conquerer all because I'm not alone. God is here guiding me step by step. I have never believed so much as I do today.

Some tips on at least feeling a little happier...

  • Name at least 5 things you are grateful for. If it exceeds 5, wonderful.
  • Cut back on alcohol.
  • Make time to sit, pray and meditate every morning or every night. Don't only pray, but listen. Remember, the word "silent" has the same letters as listen. 
  • Change something around in your house. Rearrange furniture, even if it's temporary. 
  • If you can cook this, make bone broth. (Recipes found here.) If you can't cook it, find a speciality store that sells it. It's a wonder serum. 
  • Do something nice for somebody else. Anything. 
  • Keep a journal of all your feelings, whether on notebook or on your laptop. 
  • Get out of your head and read a book. Movies and TV shows sometimes aren't helpful enough. Make your brain work for the entertainment. 
  • Open your doors to friends and family. 
  • Spend a good amount of time thanking God for all you have, and all He is going to provide. 
  • Forgive yourself if you have a bad day and end up jumping back into bed. It's OKAY. Just pull it together tomorrow.

Sometimes there are people who want to hear your story, but not out of relating -- more so out of curiosity. I had one reader of mine, we'll call "Jill" email and tell me that she is caring for her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. Right now, her mom is able to do things still as she fights the vicious "C" beast. Jill knows that her mom's days are numbered, only because she is much older and opted out of important surgeries she should've had. My mom did the same thing. She said no to the one surgery that could've saved her life. We respected her wishes and went through the whole ordeal of radiation, chemo, doctor appointments and watched her suffer terribly. Jill fears that this is going to take place soon and is looking at my story as a "future Jill" -- and that's a scary thing. Watching a loved one suffer with cancer is just horrendous. Sometimes I would have to walk out of the room just to compose myself. Other times, my cries were audible from where she was on the other side of the house. I was having anticipatory grief, and Mom heard it. I felt so bad, but it just came out and I didn't realize how much pain I was in, seeing her in so much pain. So Jill is reading my blogs, watching my broadcasts and wondering if and when she is going to be jumping into my shoes. Luckily, I don't only talk about my sadness, but I do tell you what helps me through it. I think that's important when sharing something so traumatic. "How do you get through it?" That's what people want to know.

Again I will say this. People are going to judge you based on how "crazy" you seem by how hard you're grieving. Take it with a grain of salt and please, always consider the source. Sometimes, those kind of people are scared to see something like that, because they're scared they're going to be in the same position. Grieve the way you want to, the way you have to -- there is no wrong or right way to grieve. If you're angry, bring it to God. If you're sad, bring it to God and ask Him to send you someone who can help you. The one thing I can say is, you will definitely realize who is there for you while you're going through such hard times. Count your blessings and throw away the absentee list. That list can be long, unfortunately.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why, God?

Have you ever felt like you were a complete burden to other people sometimes? And maybe you're one of those types of people who never ask for help, and in turn, nobody asks you if you need help because you don't appear to need help. Maybe this isn't such a great quality of mine, but I have never asked a single person for help. I can't do it. I have had people offer help, to which sometimes I accept or don't accept -- that's not what I'm talking about. Sometimes, I'm hurting so badly, or I need help with something so desperately, and when I pick up my phone to text or call someone to help me, my fingers become paralyzed with fear. I don't need much from anyone. I sometimes wish a simple phone call asking, "Hey, Deb? You okay?" ---- That's help. You don't need to do anything other than be you and just say hi. I have been so fortunate enough to have had my in-laws be there for me when my mother passed away. Just their presence alone -- their physical presence and offers to cook something (which they don't have to) makes me feel like someone actually gives a shit. My sister-in-law stays with us on and off, and she doesn't have to do anything but grace us with her presence. Sometimes, saying nothing at all and just being there is the most important thing you can give to somebody. Sometimes, just a simple phone call -- not a text -- a phone call saying, "Hey, how are you," can be the best gift you could give somebody.

As you all know, I had and still am having a very hard time processing the loss of my mother. We lived together. We ate dinner together. We were all we had. My partner loved my mom so much too. I'm very adamant on not comparing one grief to another, but there is something a bit different when it comes to losing a loved one who you shared a house with. Her absence screams her name to come back home. Sometimes, I'm okay, and other times, I cry so hard that I start retching. I always feel nauseous. Nausea due to stress can be due to not eating, so once I eat a little something, it goes away temporarily. The physical symptoms due to grief are rough! I never knew there was a physical side that could wreak havoc -- thought more or less emotional type of stuff...and it IS emotional, don't get me wrong.

One of my siblings have been texting my wife as well as other mutual friends telling them, "Oh, Deb's having a nervous breakdown. She needs meds and professional help."


Regardless, I am on anti-anxiety medication and I see one psychiatrist and one therapist. I make an effort in order to help myself. If I don't help myself, I can't possibly help anybody else. So what am I upset about? For my sibling tell other people that *I* need help, when I'm receiving help for my anxiety, especially with going through the stages of grief is quite hypocritical, especially if you're self-medicating yourself with two bottles of wine a night. That's not the point. The point is, if your sibling seems to be having a nervous breakdown, what would you do? Maybe a phone call and ask, "Hey, are you okay?" I received nothing -- yet, I'm always the one inviting her over, cooking large dinners for her cause I know she isn't eating much or at all. I acknowledge everyone's grief, and try to help the best I can. I don't ask for much, but instead of rattling off that I'm having a "nervous breakdown" to other people who don't even know me well, maybe it's a better idea if you called the person you were so "concerned" over. But she isn't concerned. She's curious. There's a quote that says, "Be careful who you open up to. Only a few people actually care. The rest are just curious and want something to gossip about."  I don't know who quoted that -- but it's so true sometimes. If I ever ask anyone if they are okay or if they need anything -- I mean it. And the most important thing about helping someone in any shape or form is to never brag about it or put it back into their faces once you have an argument. Give without expectations, or don't give at all.

For those who are there for me, thank you. Another quote I love is, whenever someone shows you their true colors, never try to repaint them....ever. Even my partner was taken aback by the text saying, "She's having a nervous breakdown."  And she would know this because....? She's never here. She never calls. She wants to believe that. Coping the loss of my mother has definitely made me lose my mind a little -- but isn't that kind of normal when you love someone so much and they die before you expect it? Even if death is expected, it's never expected. This has been the biggest loss of my life, so if I wanna cry and if I vomit from pure anxiety and sadness, ask me if I'm okay, don't smear my name and try to make yourself look "normal."

My advice to anyone who is going through a similar thing? Remove all toxic individuals from your life while you're grieving. People just wanna watch the entertainment of your misfortune. Most are ingenuine and this is why many people lack trust in others. I'm very disappointed, but I'm glad I found out now.

I pray that everyone involved who is mourning for my mom heals. Mom was loved by many. I pray that I somehow come to grips with my own loss. I flip-flop through the stages of grief. One day I'm like, "No! She can't be gone!" (Denial) and then go straight into the anger phase. Then it's like I accept her loss and pray to God that He'll take care of her....and then back to getting angry at God like, "Why??? Why, God???"

I'm gonna go outside on the deck and watch the rain. I'm gonna pray till I can't pray no more.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, August 25, 2017

No Grief is Greater Than Another

There is no steadiness when it comes to grief. They say "it comes in waves" -- some days are good, while other days seem devastating. It was the first time in so long where I had a really good week. I mean, it wasn't perfect, but I wasn't praying to God to take my life this time. I guess you can say the week was somewhat tolerable. Today was different. I didn't sleep at all last night. Around 2am, I started having myoclonic seizures, and when I snapped out of it, I started to cry and cry ...and cry some more. How could I live without my mom? She was the only one I could talk to who "got it" and who gave me a sense of safety, knowing that she and I shared some pretty personal deep stuff in life. There's no one else like that in my life -- no one. As I began to cry harder, my TV kept going on and off...on and off. Then finally, it just shut off by itself. It left us in the dark. Our windows were open because it was a fall-like evening. Owls started "hoo-ing" outside by a nearby tree and coyotes were howling on our lawn. The energy shifted and then I heard Mom again! She told me something that I absolutely had no knowledge of. She told me to tell Madelene. I turned to Mad and she knew exactly what I meant. I'm not sure if she believes that I hear Mom, but early this morning, she knew it was her. No doubt. Mom stayed in the room until I went back to sleep. I felt her presence, like a cool breeze caressing the hair away from my face. Her presence made it okay again. My crying stopped. My heart got chance to stop breaking momentarily. She was here and I was safe again.

Sometimes I worry when I get too upset over the loss of my mother. I already have anxiety and depression, so this just magnifies it, to where I find myself wishing I was running through the sunflower fields with her as I saw in one of my dreams. It was beautiful. We ran so lightly -- we were weightless, yet we were able to stay grounded. We were holding hands and running through each path the sunflowers made for us. I laughed as I cupped a bumble bee inside the palm of my hands. "Ma! Look! I'm not afraid of bees anymore!" She smiled and said, "That's because there's no pain or physical reactions here!" We ran further into the field, until we came to a clearing of beautiful grass. It looked so manicured. There were people sitting around a beautiful small bonfire. It was then I recognized my dad sitting on an old lawn chair. He was surrounded by my grandmother and some of my other relatives who have passed on earlier. They were eating food and drinking fancy cocktails. As we ran over there, I looked beyond the grassy field and it looked like Ireland -- rolling hills that went on forever with a sunset. "Don't worry, it doesn't get dark here," my dad said. "The sun just keeps going back and forth --- so we get a sunrise, a midday sun and a sunset. Enjoy it my baby." And then my dream ended. I woke up and wanted to go back! How could I get back there? I didn't want to wake up and start another day here in my physical body.

Every now and then, when I'm in deep thought about Mom or writing in my grief journal, I get a one ring from a number that says, "Ma" on the caller ID. I mean, I know that it's probably some telemarketer or collector of some sort, but this happens when my heart is aching for her to be here. She lets me know in so many ways she's here. I have never had so much faith as I do today because of her visitations as well as her coming into my dreams and showing me around her paradise. I didn't get this much interaction with Dad, although he did make a few visits in my dreams with some terrific messages. The one I can't forget is when I was focusing way too much on how he died, and the torturous process of dying in hospice. He kept telling me to stop it -- stop thinking about that! And then when I went to sleep, he came to me in a dream. He was standing by a big window and I stood all the way across the room from him. He said, "Debbie! Ya' gotta stop dat'!!! Stop thinking about that terrible stuff I went through!" He reached inside his pocket and said, "Here, remember this." As he pulled out a rainbow from his pocket, he threw it across the room as it sparkled when it was traveling toward me. When it hit me, they turned into beautiful memories of every Christmas we ever spent together, fishing together on the beach, vacations, laughing till our ribs hurt, and even a hug he had given me before he died. It was like my life flashing before me -- but all the good stuff -- none of the bad stuff. I took that sparkly rainbow with me and I stopped obsessing over the pain and agony he went through. I learned from him, this way I don't overthink Mom's suffering when she was dying. I think of all the good things, especially her laugh. I miss her laugh so much! 

If there is anything I have learned from losing both my parents from cancer, it's this...
  • Learn to focus on all of the good times you have ever spent with them. Focus in on their laughter.
  • When you're having a crying episode, let it happen. But also be open to a visitation from your loved one. They're holding you as you cry -- I promise you this.
  • Life does go on without them, no matter how much you wish they were here with us. Love everyone who is in your life and willing to be with you right now. 
  • Don't worship their belongings. It's not bad to save a shirt or some sort of jewelry, but don't make their room or a bunch of things they owned a shrine. It'll prolong your grieving. 
  • Celebrate their life. Cook something they used to cook, or cook their favorite meal. Have one of their favorite cocktails and cheers to them. They'll be right there with you.
  • When special dates, like the anniversary of their passing or their birthday comes along, celebrate them instead of making it a dreadful day. It's hard! I know! But try. 
  • Create new traditions on holidays. Don't try to recreate what they did. If you want to do something similar, put your own spin on it. 
  • Treat yourself. If you're having a depressing day and can't shake off the blues, go out and get a massage or pedicure. Don't skimp. It's OKAY to be good to yourself. 
  • Be careful with support groups, especially ones online. Too many depressing stories can overwhelm you. It may be a trigger. Attend in small doses. 
As I'm still trying to wiggle my way around these stages of grief, I'm happy to share with those who can relate with me on various levels. Some people have come to me who lost a parent, a spouse or a child. Some lost loved ones who were young, while others lost those who were old. In my opinion, it doesn't matter how old they were, if you loved them with your heart and soul, no grief is greater than another. It's terrible to lose a child or a loved one who was younger, but never downgrade what others go through who have lost someone older. The love is still there -- we share a level of sadness that's beyond our understanding. Be kind, compassionate and understanding to those you 'feel' haven't lost as much as you did. Just understand where they're coming from. 

If I can emphasize on any of my messages in my blogs to you, it's this: their soul lives on! Death is not the end! Believe. I cannot believe all of the visitations and communication I have had with my mom. You can call me crazy for believing this -- but there were wayyyy too many coincidences for this to be considered "all in your head" -- it's just amazing. So remember, when you're sad, remember that they are close by comforting you in some way, most likely holding you as you cry. This has been my experience. I hope this helps. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shoulda' Coulda' Woulda'...

Recently, I was talking to one of my readers about grief. She sent me a direct message over on Twitter saying how much my words have helped her. She has an elderly mother who she is terrified of losing. She sounded much like myself before Mom passed away. The mere thought of losing Mom was out of the question -- she was off limits. And that's how my new friend feels. She's afraid to say the wrong thing, or perhaps treat her less than important. Her mom tends to talk above her, or interrupts, and she wants to just accept that more and let her mom be herself. What I suggested is, just be YOU. Many of us don't want to have any regrets when our parents or loved ones die, but at the same time, you can't stop being the person you are "just in case" something happens. The thing is, over on the other side is no pain, no resentment, no anger, no sadness -- just pure understanding and unconditional love. Nobody's pissed off up in heaven -- I promise you. The ones who have left us now have a deeper understanding on humanness. We need to embrace ourselves, flaws and all and know that if God can forgive us, then why can't we forgive ourselves too?

The one thing I noticed that I find so interesting is, people are scared to talk about this topic. They're fascinated by it, but scared to even "go there" when it comes to discussing the "what ifs" of a loved one dying. I was always scared to, especially when it came to my mother. I once told my therapist that I would die if she died. I told mom that if I ever lost her I would just die. She'd always say, "No you won't!" And she was right, I didn't die. As I wiggle my way through this struggle of grief, I'm finding new strengths I never had before. I have a lot ahead of me, because my grief is fairly new, but even in this short time, I am beginning to understand things on a much deeper level.

There's a quote I read recently that says, tough times never last, but tough people do. If you can grasp that with every fiber of its meaning, you'll realize how tough you really become when something like this happens to you. I've had my challenges where I would curse the sky, throw things, punch a wall and cry my eyes out until I was all cried out.

Weeping may go on all night, but in the morning there is joy. --Psalm 30:5

There are those who are too afraid to cry because they don't want their family members, like their children seeing their parents in a weak moment. Years ago, when my parents lost their long time friend and one of their brothers, I saw my parents cry. I saw Dad cry -- which was rare. I didn't view him as "weak" -- in fact, I saw a whole other side of him that made me respect him in a whole new light. He was strong enough to show emotion. You're not "traumatizing" your kids by showing them you have sadness for someone's loss. You're showing them what life is about. It's not all happiness and fun all the time. Sometimes, we have to go through a season of sadness in order to come out on the other side. We need to go through that. If we hold it all in, it eventually comes out in some sort of negative way. Let it out. Cry it out. Scream it out. Grieve the way you grieve and never let anyone tell you that it's the "wrong way."

Some people lose their faith in God when one of their loved ones pass away. This is all the more reason to believe more. Look for signs, talk to God, draw closer to Him as He shows you how very temporary our world really is. Time on the other side is not like time here on earth. Someone asked me, "How come my loved one didn't contact me?" Think about this: if 5 minutes in heaven equates to 80 years on earth, then maybe they just got distracted hugging all their lost loved ones who also passed. They know that it's no big deal. They know how fast human life truly is. Time goes by faster than we notice. I remember Dad sitting on his hospice bed in the house saying, "Ya can't believe how time flies! It feels like yesterday when I was only 19 years old starting up my new excavation business. And just. like. that --snaps his fingers-- it's gone and you're dying of cancer." He was speaking of his own experience, but he was trying to explain how all that time here on earth passed by in the blink of an eye.

"Coulda' woulda' shoulda' syndrome" -- stop. Don't do that to yourself. I had a moment of weakness and went there. I know this is gonna sound like nonsense, but you could only do what you could do. There was nothing more that you could've done. As I watched my mother's state decline into a ball of pain and agony, I also tried keeping it together myself. Sometimes, I had to distance myself from my anticipatory grieving that I was doing. One day, she actually heard me cry over her. I was so sleep deprived -- hadn't slept in almost 5 entire nights. I couldn't take it anymore. It was torture, especially for my mom! I couldn't watch her die right in front of my eyes. She would lay on the couch, rocking back and forth until the pain meds kicked in. When she fell asleep, she'd be all crumpled up in this strange position due to the pain, along with labored breathing that I never heard before. After she fell asleep, I tried getting sleep of my own, to only stay up the entire night crying over her pain. I wanted to take her pain away, but there was only so much I could do. So, whenever those "coulda' woulda' shouldas" come resurfacing, I shoo them away, because honestly, there was nothing else I could possibly do to make her better. If you have guilt of some sort -- you weren't around as much or you feel like you didn't do enough -- take guilt, throw it in a bag and shoot it! Guilt isn't an emotion God gives us.

No grief is greater than another, however sometimes there is another factor that comes into play. I live in my family's ancestral home. I came here to take care of my dad when he was diagnosed with cancer, and then after dad died, mom was the target of the big "C" -- so it all worked out that my partner and I were already here. So the grief I have is not only missing my mother, as all of my sisters do, but it's now a daily routine to see and touch everything Mom did when she was alive. Cooking in the same kitchen, using one of her knives or pots that she loved or even just watching TV in the living room like we used to do together has become a little offsetting. I moved around the furniture to make it feel different, and that has helped a great deal. My grief comes with reminders -- perhaps more reminders since she lived here with us. Everything in this house was "her" -- everything in this house was touched by her. Even just gardening outside reminds me of what she used to do -- almost mimicking what she did as a mother and housewife. It's almost like a residual kind of haunting. I use her landline phone from time to time, knowing how many times she has had conversations on that very piece. The remote control still has her fingerprints on it. You get my drift -- all things in this house has been touched by her, with fingerprints still in tact. I had to let that sink in, and release it for what it was. It's now become comforting to use all the things she used to use and touch. I'm okay with it.

So as I sit here and type, I know that I have to face another day without her. Tonight, instead of making dinner for three, I am accepting that it's a party of two. I miss having a cocktail with her before dinner. We would sit and talk about everything. Those days have ended. I'm trying to accept that. This weekend promises differently though, as I'll have some of my friends over to share some food, wine and fun with me. I'm trying so hard not to isolate myself, as I've done while caring for Mom. I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable, if I were to  have friends over. I wanted her to be able to feel free in this house and not burdened with people laughing and having a good time. It's like a kick to the throat in a way. I tried to respect her peacefulness, although she loved company when she had her good days. Regardless, I did push away many of my friends just because I didn't want to leave her, nor did I want to make her feel bad about me having a good time without her, even if we were in the same house. I know that she wants me to change that, and I am...I am. I just loved her so much that I wanted complete peace and comfort for her while she was suffering. That's all. Now it's time to crawl out of my rock and face the world again.

God I miss that woman so much, but but more pain, no more sadness, no more agony.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

7 Things I've Noticed While Grieving

Isn't strange how the process of grieving can be? It's like one day you're completely fine and the days seem hopeful, while other days may feel like a complete nightmare. "It comes in waves," was pretty much the mantra I've been hearing for people who are mourning a lost loved one. It's so true though. Here's what I've noticed with a death of a loved one, especially someone close to you living in the same household...

You'll be flooded with kindness. You'll notice old friends coming out of the woodwork to send their condolences, or to even to invite you out with them. I've had so many invites to friends' houses, but in my state of mourning, I just couldn't. It had nothing to do with them personally -- I'm just not in the mainframe of socializing on a "party level" right now. And yes, my friends still party which is a beautiful thing. Forever young, right?  One of my girlfriends gave me a call and asked me to come over to  her pool party, and although I really really wanted to, I had to graciously decline. I was afraid that one of those waves would consume me making me a big ol' "Debbie Downer." And as fast as those wonderful and sincere invitations come flying your way, they also go flying away once things are settled. People want to help, and that has to be appreciated and respected. So never get offended when the silence of the condolences leaves your doorstep.

Parting ways. In some families, the patriarch or matriarch are usually the ones to tie the family together -- to keep them together. After both parents die, sometimes it's possible for siblings to part their ways. This is actually quite normal and to be expected. In some cases, during the anger phases of grief, siblings can turn on one another for various reasons. Emotions are high and people are extra sensitive during this time. Sometimes, silence is the best way to deal with these kind of things. For me, one sister told me that my "anxiety was out of control." When was it not? Then plop on a big ol' heap of grief and voila -- you have the perfect storm for insanity. If people can't handle you on your worst days, then they do not deserve your best of days. Surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally, who don't have reserved bitterness or resentment toward you or the family in whatever aspect. Learn to choose your company wisely. With that being said, learn to also have a forgiving nature and realize that the other person may be grieving too.

Location triggers. They're the worst sometimes. You can be having the best day, and then BAM -- you stepped into a restaurant you and your loved one used to go to. Yesterday, I went shopping in Kohl's -- a store my mom practically lived in. She would have all of her coupons and Wednesday sales + senior citizen discounts. She was so cute! As I walked in trying to get a jacked up cart that equaled like a pig down the aisles, I laughed and thought of Mom laughing at me. The store felt so strange to be in. After a while, I felt okay. When we got to the checkout, I started getting anxiety with all of the coupon questions and Kohl's card benefits -- I almost started to cry. When we left the store, we were going to have dinner at The Outback for some steak and a couple of drinks -- another location Mom and I went to all the time. I couldn't bear to go without my mom, so instead, I went to this Louisiana type of bar with really good food -- a place I have never gone to before. It helped a lot to get out of the familiar territory that haunted me so much. In time, I'll be able to go, but not now...not now.

Change. Sometimes change is good. For instance, when Mom passed away, I switched up the two large living rooms we have and rearranged the furniture so the entire house would look different. That kind of change is very healthy for your mindset. The one thing that stressed me out was the choice of either keeping the house or selling it. It's way too big for just the two of us, so I suggested we'd move to a smaller house or townhouse somewhere south of here. I'm not sure where, but in the area we live in is extremely expensive and would probably exhaust all of our savings on just trying to maintain the place. The thing with moving is -- that's one of life's biggest changes. For instance, big changes in life are death in the family, divorce, unemployment or changing jobs and of course, moving. Moving was very stressful on me and the one thing you do not want to do right away is move locations. The thing is, with me being in the same house my mom lived in -- maybe it wouldn't be so bad in my case. Maybe this is a "trigger location" -- so we're taking our time with it right now. Leaving this house would feel like another death in the family in some way. It's our ancestral home that was given to me. So, now what?

Mom & I having a cocktail.
The new normal. I hear that all the time, never quite understood it, until recently. My world feels strange. Good things are happening, yet my best friend, my mama isn't here with me to see it. There's no "checking up" on her to see if she's alright or taking her out to the park with my dog she loves so much. There's no more 5 o'clock dinners with her, no more cooking projects when she had the strength, no more watching our favorite shows at night together before she went to sleep. My routine has changed drastically. Sometimes I feel really lonely, because I work from home. So when I would take a break to walk my dog, we would hang out with mom and spend some time with her. Now it's just silence in the house, so I have to step out just to keep my sanity in tact. I'm getting used to it, but it feels so incredibly different. The house feels different. My life is just...different. I guess a "new normal" has taken place.

Personal items & photos of the deceased. They're wonderful reminders, but perhaps better left in a safe place for now until you are ready to face them. They can trigger a world of sadness as they did for me. We have this new rule: if I ever have one glass of wine, I am not allowed anywhere near my mother's bedroom nor am I allowed to just rummage through old photos of her or touch any of her belongings. Madelene once found me passed out sleeping on my mother's side of the bed hugging her pillow with a million and one crumpled up tissues all around me. I went in there just to pray and perhaps, talk to mom. It just felt like I was in her presence inside that room. But what happened was, I started crying so much, that I cried myself to sleep on her side. It was the first time I slept that long in years actually. I'm no longer allowed in that room, unless it's in the morning and I'm all caffeinated up. If you can, try not to do things like that. It hinders your progress a great deal, even though it feels to be good to be somewhat closer to them.

Praying to God or talking to deceased loved ones. This one is tricky and I want to tell you why... If you're a Christian, please guard yourself, because the accuser can deceive you, mimicking your loved one's voice exactly to the tee. Do not talk to the dead, instead -- pray to God first, ask for a hedge of protection and ask God to send a message for you. Otherwise, you're treading in dangerous waters. It borderlines on necromancy, which is a sin and most of all, it's just downright dangerous to do. Signs from loved ones are their way of communicating with you. Accept these wonderful and light "hellos" from heaven. Our time here may seem like forever, but in heaven, time here is just a blip -- we'll get there eventually. Sometimes, people never get signs or messages from their loved ones because they know they're gonna see you in 5 minutes their time. But I do believe if they see you struggling more than most, they will send you a hello. Discern whether or not it is God's will to have them contact you.

These are just my suggestions of trial and error. I have had many instances where Mom had contact with me, but I go to God first and foremost. You can see my post about communicating with deceased loved ones if you click here. As I continue my grief journey, I'll update you on anything I find interesting that may help others cope. I'm finding new coping mechanisms that've been helping me a great deal. I'll write more about that tomorrow. For now, keep the faith and when you have one bad day, remember that doesn't mean it's a bad life. In waves...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Signs From Your Deceased Loved Ones

There's no turning back now. They say grief comes in waves, but lately, it's been hitting me like a tsunami. I can't seem to catch my breath. I get it. She lived a full life -- she wasn't a 30 year old something lady, but let me ask you this: does it really matter? My mom was 79 years old, but she had all of her wits about her, she was funny and was always there for everyone. She was the least judgmental person I have ever known, unless you asked her for an opinion on a really ugly plaid blouse. (Yes, that would be me.) Nonjudgmental in terms of -- say if one of her daughters had a falling out. She would never side with either. She would always say, "Turn the other cheek and remember that's your sister." Nobody could do any wrong in her eyes. Everyone tells me that time will heal or that it just never heals. Some say it just gets worse, which scares the living daylights outta me. When I pray and meditate, everything seems OKAY -- everything seems like things are where they should be, even though I took a punch to the gut with losing mom. I get it -- we all die and we're bound to lose our parents one way or another if we're around to see it. I keep reaching out to people who have lost a parent or a child. After years of their loss, they seem to still be grieving, but in a different way, no more, no less. The big difference is, they can manage to smile again. I guess it's like an open wound right now. Eventually, it'll turn into a scar if I don't continually pick at it. There are some people who actually feel guilty if they move on with their lives. I've witnessed people who explained that they feel really bad if they're having too much fun in life -- as if they're somehow disrespecting their loved one.

Isn't that what they want for us?

Here's what's been happening to me lately.

I know many people are skeptic when it comes to supernatural occurrences, or that their loved ones may be able to give them signs. But after my experiences, whether you call them all "coincidences" or that my mind may be playing tricks on me -- I believe more than ever.

My very first experience with Mom trying to contact me was right before she died. Mom and I always talked about sending one another an owl if one of us should die first. We collected owls for years and she would tell me that they were good luck. So the owl is quite significant to me. The night before she passed, I was woken up to a loud owl "hoo-ing" inside my window. It was perched out on the ledge and making the most crazy hoo-ing sounds with some strange other sound that followed. I woke up instantly and something told me to look at my clock.

The clock read 4:17. That's my mom's birthday. I looked over at Madelene and said, "She's going to pass soon." Even when a dying person is unconscious, their spirit can still manifest messages to their loved ones, prepping them for the moment they leave us.

The second time she pulled through the veil was when I was crying really hard -- I was having myself a good ol' ugly cry in my bedroom. I even believe they were "screaming-type cries" -- the type where you are grieving so hard, you lose all sense of the meaning STABLE. I thought I had nearly done lost my mind. Down the hallway and into my office came a strange noise. We couldn't figure it out. It sounded like a train horn, but something was different. It was my MacBook going on and off...on and off...on and off. It wouldn't stop until I stopped crying. The thing is -- my computer was shut down. So...? Again, I looked over at the clock and this time it said 3am.

They say that at 3am, the veil to the other side is at its thinnest. So, our loved ones (as well as not so loved ones) can send you messages or signs due to the frailty of the veil. I'm not sure why 3am is the magic number, but some people believe that it's the devil's hour or the "witching hour" where the number "3" is mocked due to the trinity. I don't know what to make of this.

All our lives, my mom and me would always notice 12:21 in different areas -- whether we'd catch it on a clock or just randomly saw those numbers. Also, most of our relatives either died on the 12th or 21rst of the month. One day before Dad crossed over, Mom and I were hanging out in the driveway as she smoked a cigarette. She said to me, "You know what tomorrow is, right?" And I said, "Yep. It's the 21rst."  She ducked out her cigarette and we both walked back inside to get ready to head up to hospice. The next day, he died peacefully at 12:21 on July 21, 2012.

Hmm. Coincidence?

So my third run with this supernatural occurrence was when I was having a completely grieving meltdown in my kitchen. Madelene was comforting me and I was upset over something in particular, to which I'll leave out for now. My heart started pounding and I felt out of control. All of the sudden, the lights flickered on, off, on off, on off -- then it went into a twilight in between mode, like half on....then *poof* -- the power went off. When it came back on, the clock blinked, 12:21.

The strangest occurrence was when I was just reading some articles in the living room because I couldn't go to sleep. It was silent and everything was very peaceful. It wasn't too long before I heard an audible voice -- my mother's voice!

"Deb--bie!!!" It was like a singsong kind of sound. The first "Deb" went up -- and the second syllable of my name went down. It was as if she was so excited to push through the veil! And oddly enough, it was at 3am once again. She sounded so happy and even more so excited that she got through. I heard her tone -- her excitement -- her happiness. Although I knew it sounded happy, I got up pretending I didn't hear it and walked into my bedroom to pull the covers up over my head. I was a little freaked out over that one. The next day, I did a public broadcast about supernatural occurrences once a loved one passes over, and got a lot of interesting feedback. Many believe it was her, some told me to be careful because it was at 3am, the mockery of the trinity, while others saw it a blessing from God. I am careful with trying not to tamper around with initiating contact from the other side. The devil can mimic anyone's voice to make you rely on it, instead of praying to God. So you have to be especially careful when you're grieving that you are not 'talking to the dead' -- but relying on God to send any messages you need to send. This can borderline on necromancy -- not to be confused with necrophelia! Necromancy is more or less relying on the dead to talk to you and give you tidbits for the future. Just be careful if you do practice this sort of thing, especially if you're a believer.

The next thing my mom does it a bit nerve-racking, but it is what it is. Whenever I'm at my most extreme of emotions, like either crying my eyes out or even happy about something, my phone will ring one time. It's a phone number that cannot be dialed back. It's out of order. This can easily be debunked as those annoying telemarketers, but the caller ID lists the call as, "Ma." This has happened every time I'm crying, or each time I'm writing in my personal grievance journal. She does it at certain times when I am in deep thought about her. In fact, I should be getting a call any minute now.

Many people have experienced signs and communication of some sort from the other side. Some find it comforting, while others find it disturbing, and then of course, you have your skeptics out there who feel it's merely just a coincidence. I keep seeing the same humming bird hovering around one of my big windows in the living room. There are no bright colors around that area nor is there any sort of flowers that would draw them in. I have never seen so many beautiful butterflies and cardinals too. Dragonflies have been swarming the joint -- so I don't know what you believe. One afternoon while sitting out on my deck, I saw at least 10 doves fly off from the roof into the sky. It was so beautiful. But...?

This morning I got a text message from my sister at around 6:30am saying, "This is insane....the last few days I have woke up at 4:17. I'm freaked! What does that mean???!!!"

All I said was, "Mom. Believe it. It's her. If I told you half the things that went on, you'd probably wouldn't believe me."

Mom's birthday was 4/17. We keep seeing her birthday on the clock. Is it our brain playing tricks on us, or perhaps it's real?

This is why I'm writing this article right now actually.

Do you have stories where your loved one came through to you? My dad usually would come to me in a dream. I would actually wake up within the dream to ask him, "Is this really you?" And he'd laugh and say, "Of course it is! Gimme a hug quick before my time is up!" There was always a 15 second time limit on our "dream contact."

Let me know what's been happening with your experiences. Maybe they're real. Maybe they're just our own brains searching for signs. But whatever it is -- isn't it kinda comforting in a way? (Unless you're starting to hear them yell your name out!) But that's a whole other can-o-beans!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mama's Last Mother's Day

Have you ever had such a vidid dream (or nightmare) that you just couldn't shake years later? I remember when I was about 8 years old or so, I had this dream where I was at my mom's funeral. I remember every single person who attended and even recall people carrying her casket inside this small funeral parlor. When I woke up from that dream, I couldn't stop crying. Mom came into my room to wake me up for school and saw how upset I was. I told her I had a nightmare, but I wouldn't tell her what it was. She asked again, but I was afraid that if I told her, that it would somehow come true. During that time, Mom had a really bad blood infection and had to go into the hospital for a while. They had to give her a hysterectomy. While she was in the hospital, I remember my grandmother taking care of me. As she was cleaning up after dinner, I saw grandma sobbing as she wiped the table down. I knew something was wrong. My fear kicked in and I couldn't stop crying out of fear. Luckily, Mom came home and I took care of her. I made her tuna fish sandwiches with instant chicken noodle soup. I actually made it pretty good! I used to watch Mom cook and make stuff all the time.

Walking into Mom's funeral service was the worst day of my life. I tried to stay inside the room where everyone gathered, but my chest started to hurt and I found it hard to breathe. I walked over to the secondary little living room area and had myself a real "ugly cry." I couldn't go back in there. I know all of my friends came by to pay their respects and send their condolences to me, which was so nice of them, but I had to hide. They understood, thankfully. As time went by, the room was packed with me and all of my friends and my in laws. They stayed with me. They knew I couldn't bear to go out there any longer. I did go back out into the hallway, but I just couldn't be in that room. No. I can't. I couldn't handle it. I would've had a heart attack. 

Our precious cargo on our way to the shore!
During these dark times, you truly see who is there for you, and who isn't. I feel so fortunate to have had my sister-in-law stay with us for a couple of weeks. It wasn't only to console me, but to also help Madelene out because she was grieving too. Hey, my mom was her mom too. They were so close. Even my mother-in-law loved my mom. We had gone on vacation to the Jersey Shore on the week of Mother's Day. It was Mom, Madelene, my mother-in-law and her husband, and my sister-in-law. Madelene and I would pack the car and Mom and Lola would ride in the back seat together -- it was so adorable as you can see in the photo. All of us had such a good time at this beautiful beach house right on the ocean. I also invited all of my sisters, but they were only able to stay on Mother's Day due to their busy schedules, which was great! At least they were there! I had a feeling that this was going to be Mom's last Mother's Day with us. I saw her declining and I knew how important this trip was. As we arrived at this beautiful home right on the ocean, we were able to give Mom the best spot in the house: a suite with her own bedroom and bathroom and a sliding glass window to walk over to the ocean. She said, "Debbie, I never want to leave this house! I don't wanna go home!" I never heard her say that before with the other places we visited. This meant the world to me that she was happy and felt comfortable. 

On Mother's Day, my two sisters and their kids came over in the morning so they could spend the day with us. I rocked the kitchen and BBQ like you've never seen before. From steamed clams, filet mignons, porterhouse steaks, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, asparagus, garlic broccoli rabe with linguini, potato salad, cold slaw, wine, beer, or anything in between. We all had Mother's Day dinner out on the deck that faced the ocean. It was supposed to be cloudy and cool that day -- but it turned out to be 80 degrees and sunny. I couldn't believe it. It was the perfect day! Everyone hung out, the kids went out on the dock to go crab fishing and kayaking -- they all had a really good time. There was even a pool table inside if people wanted to hang out indoors. 

I'll never forget what Mom said to me.

"This was the best Mother's Day of my life!" 

Whenever I would wake up, I would walk downstairs to her area and sit with her. We both stared out into the ocean and had our coffee together. Sometimes, her pain would get to her, so she would lay down and wait for the pain medication to kick in as she nodded off. I stayed with her until she fell asleep. She would always fall asleep facing the ocean. She looked like a sweet angel sleeping. I would pray while she slept, hoping that this vacation would heal her. There had to be some way Mom could get better. I couldn't lose my best friend -- my vacation buddy. I never wanted to go without her! She made it fun! She had her own little routine and it was so incredibly adorable. At night, I would sit with her in her bedroom and we would talk for an hour or so before she went to sleep. She'd play with my dog Lola and even had a little nightcap with me. 

Mom & I sharing a glass of wine before bedtime.
Mom was so happy to be with her family during this time and I'm so glad my sister's and their kids made it down to see her. I can't stress enough how important this particular trip was. She had already knew she was terminal. I however, did not. I just felt she was. I just knew. She kept her "6 month doomsday" a secret from me, but we're so connected that there was no way I could not know. I saw her pain. I saw her personality change as the pain took hold of her. She couldn't do this any longer. I remember one evening while sitting outside by the ocean with my mom, she decided to go back inside. So as I let her hold onto me as we walked toward the house, there was a small step to get inside. She didn't have the strength to take that small step. I had to literally pick her up carefully, hoping not to break a rib in order to get her back into her suite. When we got inside, I set her up in her bedroom while Lola hopped up on her bed to lay down with her. Madelene came downstairs to give her a glass of ice water and a snack. We always watched TV together in her bedroom before I headed up to go to sleep myself. I enjoyed staying with her. I enjoyed every second with her because she was just a fascinating woman with all of her stories and funniness. I miss her so much. We were such a great team.

Here are some short video clips from Instagram.

1st clip
2nd clip
3rd clip

So where was I before I started talking about our awesome trip to the shore? Ah, the funeral. I will say this... The days after a loved one's funeral makes it "official" -- your loved one is gone forever. It's nothing like seeing them for the last time in the hospital. This somehow was different for me. It was the funeral that sparked the initial intense grieving process. I'm already afflicted with GAD - generalized anxiety disorder. When someone who has anxiety disorder goes through the stages of mourning, the anxiety can heighten a great deal. I started to develop all these new phobias and habits. I had to go back on my regular dosage of Ativan to keep me calm, but one day, I missed a dose and it sent me into a whirlwind of withdrawals like I've never seen before. The first day of a benzodiazepine  withdrawal is heightened anxiety attacks, heart palpitations and twitches. If it reaches day 2 -- it can go into complete seizures. I didn't even realize I had forgotten to take the morning dosage because my mind was in a fog. Madelene was really concerned because she has never seen me this extreme before. I was shaking and crying -- I didn't know how to help myself. I had to stop drinking due to my stomach bleeding, so I thought something was terribly wrong with me -- as most anxiety sufferers do. They start in with their hypochondria and then the mind races to the worst case scenario. It wasn't too long before I started to say, "I wanna go home with Mom." And I meant it with every fiber of my being. Later that night, I took my nightly dosage of Ativan, and realized on my phone in the notes section where I log in the times of when I take the medicine...there was no morning dose. Not even 10 minutes later, I was calm as a clam.

Here's the thing with anxiety disorder: it. cannot. be. fixed. The only thing that can be done is developing a good and strong coping mechanism. I have tried every single antidepressant out there, however all the SSRI's that I have tried increased my anxiety where I started having strange jolts and small mini seizures. My doctor informed me that some people with anxiety disorder are "sensitive" to SSRI's which is why they tend to go for the anti-anxiety meds, like Ativan, Xanax or Klonopin. People don't seem to realize that an anti-DEPRESSANT is not meant for someone with ANXIETY disorder. Big pharma used the tactic of, "Well, anxiety and depression go hand in hand."  Yeah, maybe, but if the person is more of a high strung anxiety-ridden chihuahua, you might wanna throw them a benzo! I was actually invited to speak about this topic on the Dr. Oz show. I graciously declined, because I didn't want to inform people who truly need the medication who are not sensitive to it. I was afraid that there would be people who have mental illness that would reject any help given. If you're an avid reader of mine, you remember that story and how badly I wanted to go on his panel. You can read more about it here.

Grief itself can bring on anxiety and depression, even if the person never had an issue with it before. It can also trigger PTSD in some people. There's also complicated grief, which is basically someone never getting over their loved one and not moving on. My whole thought on people like me who suffer with anxiety, especially when a tragic loss occurs like mine is this: never judge the way somebody grieves. If they ask you for help, either say yes or no, but never make that person feel bad about coming to you. If you're going to say, "Oh I'll always be here for you," then do so, or don't ever let those words come out of your mouth. Giving unsolicited advice is overstepping one's boundaries. Make sure the advice is asked for, not some sermon on what you did to get better or how you would handle it. Just be an ear and or just be present. As long as they see a professional, you do not have to act like one for them. The worst thing to say to someone who suffers with anxiety disorder is, "You gotta do this." because in most cases, they've already tried this that and the other thing. You're just doing more damage, and potentially ruining whatever relationship you have left with that person. They may not ever want to communicate with you again, in fear of being humiliated or judged.

Losing a loved one can make you lose your mind. The heaviness of the loss itself changes you into a different person, possibly with different views on life. What I've come to realize is that nobody can tell somebody how to grieve or how long you 'should' grieve for. This is a personal journey which should be respected. When people make fun of you because you have a cross to bear, like dealing with anxiety or depression, it can wreak havoc on your psyche, making you think that you're batshit crazy. But remember, the people who put you down saying you're "not grieving right" or that "you're out of control" are the ones who have either never experienced a loss like this, or those who are still in the anger phase of their own grieving period. Don't allow anyone to make you a target of their unresolved anger.

But I digress. I can honestly say that I have zero regrets with Mom. We did everything we wanted to do. She was my vacation buddy and I was more than honored to be with her on Mother's Day just to spoil her rotten! I'm so glad my other sisters came down to share the most amazing day with us. When I think back on a good memory, that day comes to mind because it was as if Mom wasn't sick at all! She had a fairly good day. My prayers were answered. It was like the most beautiful 'send off' -- a tribute to the most amazing woman of my life.

I'm so thankful Mom decided to take that trip.

Thank you, Mom.

Love you, love you, as we used to always say.

We'll get to watch another sunset together one day. I know it. But for now, thank you for all the wonderful memories you have given me. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Emotional Self-Preservation

"I'm Sorry." After the last couple of years, and whatever it is that you may be personally going through, it's especially ...