Love, Us.

We have all been there. You show up somewhere sans gift and/or card. You didn’t know it was THAT kind of party, or you forgot, or you’re just simply broke. Been there, done that.

Letting someone sign the card is a gift in itself. Dude, rid yourself of the guilt of forgetting — sign the card and pretend we were always going in on that gift together.

Siblings know this best.

My sister did it for me, and I remember doing it for her. Quickly scribbling the other persons name in the card and pretending that we had orchestrated all this beforehand, and then proudly gifting something — not even knowing what was under that wrapping paper. Ahh, good times.

I still do this for her.

I have been signing my sister’s name since the fall of 2018. Like we had orchestrated this all beforehand, as if she just couldn’t make it.

You know — if heaven wasn’t so far away.

This is how I keep her alive, by penning her name beside mine.

“Can you sign my name too?”

Always.

Love,

Meg & Kris

365 Days Without Her

“My sister killed herself yesterday”

– Me, calling my friends

“She’s been gone only a few days”

-Me, at the florist

“She took her life a few weeks ago”

– Me, at Thanksgiving

“She passed a few months ago”

– Me, At Christmas

“Shes been gone a year”

– Me, Today

It never got easier to say, the only change was the length of time. It never felt less cringe worthy or gut wrenching, and it never once has just rolled off my tongue. Tears always well up into my eyes, and a heaviness sits directly in my throat.

Tomorrow, is the anniversary of the call, the shock, and the devastation. Today, is the anniversary of the moonlight she never got to see. Today is the day where the sweet warmth summer collapsed into the cold bitterness of fall, and I can still feel it. That was the first day of the rest of my life, a life that understood mourning and grief. A life where baby play groups were replaced by suicide survivor support groups — a version of life I didn’t want or need, but the version I now have.

Thank you to my friends who have listened to me, cried with me, and loved me. You made it more tolerable, to be living though something quite intolerable.

Please see the moonlight tonight and never ever believe that the world is better off without you — because simply stated: the world, your family, your friends, and your pets, are better because they have you.

Still bewildered, still bereaved.

Megan xo

Too-muchness

This past week I have been overwhelmed with too much. Birthdays — going to them, planning them, honouring them — and anything “birthday” in between. As the death of my sister approaches it’s six month anniversary (in a few days), my daughter’s 1st birthday creeps along in it’s shadows.

I’m here — Feeling too much, thinking too much, being overwhelmed by too much, and being needed by too many. I am drowning in too-muchness.

My eyes have tears lined in each lid ready to topple over at any moment. In queue, just awaiting another flood of emotion to expel; but for this minute they just sit still like stagnant water.

Trying to book Scarlett’s first birthday “cake smash” photos has been the ultimate struggle for me. Baby-hood, it’s over. It was wasted on PPD, grief, and work. Exactly in that order.

No one asks me if I’m okay anymore. It’s been six months, after all.

If you asked me, if you really asked me…

I’m not okay — and its not just the death of my sister. So many things died with her: maternal cousins for my children, being an Aunt, a full house at Christmas, someone standing next to me when my own parents die. With that, my sister will die over and over again. Too-muchness. It all just feels like a spiral of too-muchness.

It’s work working though my grief, my PPD/anxiety, and then there is the “work” that I do that pays me money — when I’m not doing my other work; my hard work.

Just too-muchness.

It’s beyond sleep or spa.

It’s beyond tea and time away.

Because after all, I’m not ok.

In a grief avoidant society it’s hard accepting that it’s okay to not be okay.

But, here I am anyways.

We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.” -John Green

xo

M

Bell Let’s Talk — 2019

I can’t afford the therapy needed to get over the death of my sister.

How uncomfortable is that to read? It’s even more uncomfortable to write. Trust me.

A visit with my therapist costs 200$, with those fees rising next month. My father in law pays into an insurance plan for us — It covers 500$ annually for psychology services. With an insurance plan like this, I am able to get 2.5 visits with my therapist which are covered. That’s enough time to get comfortable with her — that’s all.

The problem isn’t that we don’t know how to help mental illness, it’s that those with mental illness can’t afford to help themselves. My sister couldn’t help herself, so she killed herself. Fuck again, how uncomfortable is that to read?

I have clarity, something I don’t think my sister had at the end of her life. I KNOW I’m worth it (I wish she knew too), so I charge it to the old credit card…But then one burden bleeds into another… my mental clarity comes at the cost of financial hardship and anxiety; So I book in again with my therapist… and the cycle continues.

We know how to help solve some of the mental illness crisis and we don’t do it. Why can’t psychotherapy visits be covered under OHIP? My arm is broken — it’s free, my heart is damaged — it’s free. My brain is sick… get ready to cough up. Mental illness is only treatable if you’re wealthy.

Yuck. Read that last line again.

I don’t want to paint a picture that money solves all problems, or that money makes you seek therapy. I’m aware that Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain all had money, and yet still hung themselves; but I do believe with every fibre of my being that access to therapy would save SO MANY LIVES.

Under the advisement of my doctor, I medicated myself after my sisters death — a month of Zoloft was not even 2$ under our insurance plan. Not even 2$ and I was numb. Cheap fix. She said if I could afford therapy I didn’t need Zoloft. Read that again. My physician acknowledged the fact that I could get better, without meds… IF I could afford it.

I medicated. Talk therapy worked when it was only post partum depression, but with PPD stacked under grief that’s where it was all too much. Underneath that SSRI, I was still a sobbing mess, but now I looked ok, so I could pretend I was ok.

I never forgot to take my “meds”, because I never forgot that I was really fucking sad… that was until I forgot. I actually forgot, and then I forgot again, and again. (Don’t come off your meds like this!) Until I looked up how long it took until it was actually out of your system and I was on that day — day 5 —and I felt “normal”. So I stopped. I went to my therapist and she said to me, and I’m paraphrasing “if you feel ok, it’s okay to not be on them, grief is not depression”. That may not resonate with you, but wow, for me that was worth the 200$ right there.

I was grieving, and I was allowed to do it, and to feel it. I medicated myself out of the brunt of it, but then I needed to talk about it. Although it did help in the beginning; I really needed to set up coping strategies, and ways to deal with both my grief and depression in healthy and productive ways, and the meds couldn’t teach me that. We NEED to make talk therapy/ Cognitive Behavioural Therapy accessible. That’s what we need to fight for, that’s what we need to talk about.

So sure Bell, Let’s Talk — Let’s talk about that.

100 Days : The Final Gift

A few weeks ago I realized that Christmas Day marks 100 days since my sister’s death. One Hundred. I find that number so whole, I feel anything but whole; but here we are on day 100 — Christmas Day.

The final gift I gave my sister (aside from obsessively planning every last detail of her services) was her eulogy. I both wrote it, and gave it at her funeral.

So today on the day of giving, family, and love I share with you the only gift I have to give her— my words.

This is The Final Gift.

” First off I want to thank everyone for coming here today and showing love for my sister, and support for my parents and I. Everything about today is pretty unconventional, and I appreciate my parents for letting me plan this one last thing for her exactly how I wanted, and how I thought she would want.

I know how a eulogy is supposed to go. I’m supposed to start by listing all the ways she was amazing.. but I’m going to start this differently. She was a pain in my butt, in the ways little sisters are. Growing up, she always tried to copy me, steal my clothes, disagree with me on everything, hit me with the remote, and tattle on me to mom and dad. She even bit me this one time, and she had braces so it was like literally twice the bite.

But underneath this little spitfire of a girl was this super delicate soul. She was like a hard candy with a gooey inside. She didn’t allow many people in, but once you were in, it’s like you were home. She was so loving, spontaneous, and as my son Brantley describes her: “fun”.

My dad got to see a lot of her beneath the shell. They got each other. My dad won’t admit it, but she’s his favourite. I’m actually 100% okay with it, because everybody has their person, and they just happen to be each others.

An unrelenting fierceness was in her from the beginning. What can I say…She was a handful! But her determination was like no other. She was okay doing things on her own that most weren’t. For instance, she packed up and drove from Ottawa to Alberta with nothing but the necessities, which to her – were her cats. She quickly found a job and then quit that job because it didn’t make her happy, even with having her mortgage to pay. I remember her calling me and she was so proud! She said I quit my job like in the movies! I told my boss to shove this job up his ass, and I just walked out!

I just smiled and shook my head. It was pretty par for the course she played.

She just followed her heart, and her mind followed.

She was so resourceful. She really never asked for help. She always just figured it out. Most of us would call it doing it the hard way, but she would just say she was doing it her way, a way she could be proud of.

The other day I was on my way to the funeral home to bring my sister clothes to wear for her services. It felt only right to let her steal my clothes one last time. My sister loved those simple Costco yoga pants, she would literally wear them with heels, so that’s what I gave her. Every time we did something fancy as a family I had to lend her something, because she didn’t spend her money on clothes. My sister was a thrifter, and a bargain hunter. She found ways to milk a dollar out of a dime. She would have hated how much she spent on her outfit – aside from the pants, but she is worthy, she is so worthy.

Before I had Scarlett, my 5 month old — I purged a lot of things… I threw out seemingly meaningless things. Things my sister made or gave to me that outside of this exact circumstance were just “stuff”. I mentioned to my mom and my sisters friend Rebecca how I was feeling. I’ll call it “garbage guilt”, and they said they too had it. Rebecca with a shirt, and my mom with her childhood artwork. I’m saying this to remind you, and myself that the things my sister gave us can not be lost, or thrown out. And that we need to rid ourselves of any guilt. The small guilt, or the big guilt.

The kindness cards you see attached to your programs. I made these in honour of my sister, I hope that in some way these can carry on her legacy. I was honoured to do the first act of kindness with them and leave Kleenex with you for the service today… but then I realized they were already generating kindness before they ever got to me. When I told my mom what I was doing she said call Vistaprint back and order 500 more! So I did.. and the additional cost for the 500 were generously waived.. but then I checked my email and the entire total for 1000 cards and express shipping was waived by Vistaprint. And I made a mistake I thought the 25th was yesterday and that these would arrive in time for today. I woke up this morning to an alarm I had set to call Purolator and figure out how to stop the truck, and have me pick up the package myself. Purolator tracked down the truck with my package, and then kept it under watchful eye until I got there.

I said how did you do this? How did you find the truck? And she replied “You just had to ask. The answer is always no, if you never ask.” I want to encourage you if you need help. Just ask. People are there for you, and want to see you happy. Even the Purolator people.

Please use these cards, allow unexpected kindness to find people. Surprise them. You never know how much someone might need it.

Before I leave you I wanted to share a message of hope: When scrolling through Facebook when you’re grieving everything seems to be able to remind you of your loved one; but there was a post that sucked me in, and it reminded me of all of us.

When hurricane Florence struck Carolina the locals and media were both very worried about their wild horse population.

I was reading the article and it read that every horse remained unscathed. They seeked higher ground, herded together, and remained safe from the turbulence around them.

All of us, we are the wild horses.

We must not fall too deeply into the valleys of grief. We must search for higher ground, we must stick together. And as the winds have passed them, the intensity of this grief shall pass us.

I love you Kristina, fly high. Save me a spot at the cool kids table, and just remember, when we meet again and inevitably get into trouble: I’m deaf and you don’t speak English. I pinky promise I won’t ever forget you. Until we meet again sweet girl.

We are now going to play a clip of my sister singing {Link Below}

https://www.facebook.com/kristina.breau/videos/10153310104840344/

Merry Christmas to my friends, readers, and fellow grievers. ❤️

May you shine so brightly today, and always.

Love,

Kristina’s sister

Xo

How the Grief Stole Christmas

We all know the “Where are you Christmas” song from the Grinch movie; this is the soundtrack of my Christmas this year.

“Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?”

For me, and for many others in my family (let alone, the world), Christmas isn’t just simply a time of year — it’s a feeling.

Although I can FIND Christmas; whether on department store shelves, twinkling lights, and Santa Claus parades .. I can not FEEL Christmas.

This Christmas doesn’t feel right. It could be, perhaps, that my shoes are too tight?

Grinch quotes aside — it just doesn’t feel right. My sister should be here, and this Christmas feels both cruel and unfair.

Although, sadly this isn’t my first Christmas missing her. Last Christmas we weren’t speaking.. I shopped for her and hoped things would blow over but they didn’t. Items remained unwrapped, ungifted, and hidden within the depths of the “Christmas closet” — for another year.

It’s my baby’s first Christmas, and in reality I’m both sad and thankful for that. On one hand, not all hope is lost this Christmas, there will be beauty — in the joy on her face, and my son’s. But on the other, there is a deep deep sadness.

“Has Christmas changed? Or just me?”

Hmmmm… Christmas has definitely changed — it’s not just me. Right, Mom & Dad? We are physically and emotionally missing my sister’s presence. There was still so much love to give her, let alone gifts.

“My world is changing, I’m rearranging…Does this mean Christmas changes too?”

Yes. Fuck, yes. You can’t possibly just carry on with the holidays like your life is normal. There now needs to be an invite for me and my plus one.. meaning: me and my grief. My grief is everywhere with me, it will be invited to the Christmas table — whether that makes you uncomfortable or not. Her scented candle will be there. She will be there….

She will be home for Christmas…If only in my dreams.

Stuck in September

I remember right after my sister died telling my mom I wanted to freeze time. I said it more than a few times. I was obsessed with wanting everything and everyone to stand still. She said, and I’m paraphrasing: “I want time to freeze forever, but like two weeks ago, when Kristina was here”. Of course, I would rather that too (you know, if I actually did in fact have time freezing super powers).

I was, or should I say, *am* terrified of continuing on without her. Right now, I look like her, I laugh like her, my mannerisms are like hers.

I’m scared for when wrinkles line my face, and silver adorns my hair, and crackles creep into my voice. I won’t know her like that. I won’t recognize her like that. What happens when I stop seeing her in me?

I’m stuck in September.

I’m frozen — paralyzed— in a time where my sister was still alive. She looked at the same September moon I did, she and I breathed the same September air.

I’m stuck there.

In reality, I have somehow still managed to freeze time. A week ago at work I was so confused why we had a full carton of coffee cream that expired in January. I even asked them about it. “Why do we have this in the fridge?” They looked at me like I was crazy— It does in fact expire in January… January 2019.

But you see, I’m stuck in September; and in September creamer doesn’t have a shelf life lasting until January.

I’m white knuckling September like a steering wheel on a blizzard ridden January night. I can’t let go; and right now I don’t want to.

I’m stuck where there was late summer sunsets, warmth — and life.

Signing off for now, from somewhere in September.

Xo

Do you remember when?

Do you remember when Mom did this, or Dad did that, or when the dog….

Well no, I likely don’t, or at least not all of the stories.

I can’t help but feel like when my sister left this world she took some of our childhood memories with her when she went. Well, the memories I don’t remember. Can you even call those memories? More like some of our childhood moments. I’m left now with only the ones I can recall. It’s okay to be left with only my version of my life; but, half the fun of a sibling is laughing about the time Dad forgot you at the park, or reminiscing about your favourite family pet, and of course the “do you remember when’s..” that inevitably end in fits of laughter, and milk up the nose.

Now, I’m an only child — with none of the perks. I know what I had before was better. Her being here was better. Life was better — lighter.

I wish she was here. I often think maybe even she now wishes she was here. Did she even know how loved she was? Looking down on us now, she knows. I wish she knew when she was here. Sigh. If wishes could bring her back, she would have never left.

But…back to childhood memories. My version, her version, and the truth. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Somewhere we would find some common ground, and agree to disagree. Maybe. Fuck, she was impossible. Who am I kidding. We wouldn’t agree.

Come find me in my dreams, Sis. We can fight about it there, and you can remind me of the things I can’t remember.

Xo

The Daughter of a Bereaved Mother

My mom has two daughters. One on Earth and one in Heaven. My mother’s heart lives both here, and there. I’ve always had to share my mom, but not in this way. Not in watching her ache for her lost daughter as she holds mine.

It’s crazy, the year I received a daughter is the year my mom lost one of hers. Scarlett has forever become the marker of time lost with my sister. When she’s 10, that’s a decade without my sister. I have a love, hate relationship with 2018, to say the least. 

Now of days when you think of bereaved mothers, we think, or at least I do, of pregnancy and infant loss moms. In reality, becoming a “bereaved mother” has no limits, no timelines, and does not discriminate. These moms — My mom, she’s a part of a club she absolutely, undoubtably does not want to be in; like the rest of them. 

I’m the daughter to a one- daughter- less mother. Where there was two, there’s one. 

When words fail me, my “grief” searches on Pinterest do not. This poem explains my mom’s “new normal”:

“Do not judge the bereaved mother.

She comes in many forms.

She is breathing, but she is dying.

She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.

She smiles, but her heart sobs.

She walks, she talks, she cooks,

she cleans, she works, she IS

but she IS NOT all at once.

She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.

A child that loses a parent is an orphan.

A husband that loses his wife is a widower.

A wife who loses her husband is a widow.

However, there is no word for a parent that loses a child.

For there is no word to describe such pain.”

-author unknown

We desperately miss my sister, and in turn, I desperately miss my mom. 

Pictured: Nana & Scarlett – Thanksgiving 2018

Reduced to Rubbermaids

I am writing this from an all too narrow airplane seat. I’m on my way to my sisters. Wow. That’s the last time I’ll say that. “My sister’s place” will cease to exist after this trip. 

We are going to put my sisters stuff into categories: Keep, donate, sell, and garbage. It’s hard to think of anything that she has touched as garbage, but alas, we can’t keep it all. 

I can’t wait to see her things; to touch, and smell, and experience her house as she has left it — with a deep rank of ganja, presumably. Ironically, she gave me a portable essential oil diffuser, I plan on diffusing the heck of that place. 

It’s weird to think of the things she’s left behind, the gifts she has given us. Now more special and sacred then the day we unwrapped them. It’s like everything was part of some master universe plan. But, if I think too much about that it messes with my head. In short, I will just have to continue to graciously accept the gifts as they continue to give. 

Rubbermaids. This is only going to end one way. Her life is going to boil down to bins and boxes. Kristina’s home will be “Kristina’s bin”, her clothes will be “my sister’s quilt”. I’m not ready for that. I want to be wrapped up in her arms, not a blanket made of her favourite shirts. But this is it. As her body was reduced to dust, her life is about to be reduced to Rubbermaids. 

The only thing we can’t shove in the box is her spirit and her legacy. For they are too big, too bright, and too promising. I find comfort in knowing the bin is only one element of her life after death — for, she still lives inside of us.