The DEN Collaborative
A Much Needed Reprieve
Trigger Warning* Loss, Grief, Healing
The end of March is a specifically sensitive and sacred time of year for my family and me. At the very start of my career, my dear mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer and passed within a matter of mere weeks. March 27, 2019, marks the night she took her last breath and changed my world forever. I got 26 years with her and it just wasn't enough. We spoke daily on the phone about everything from what was for breakfast to the docket of to-do's on each other's minds. She was my greatest soundboard, my biggest supporter, and my closest friend. Her death left me with a grief I'd never known and the drowning responsibility to figure out how to live without her.
Since then it's been three years of anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays without her.
Three March 27ths.
The first anniversary of her passing was just weeks after the world fell into a global pandemic. Looking back, it's amazing that I got out of bed. The next year felt the same way. Bumping along from one activity to the next, every March felt foggy. I didn't know at the time that grief has the capability to render a person's fine motor skills useless. It makes people clumsy and forgetful. With a full-on lack of information around what the f*ck I was experiencing, I was unable to recognize that March is hard and that that is okay.
"Our need will be the real creator" - Plato
I couldn't keep being sideswiped by this misunderstanding of my grief.
It took me years of awkward phone calls and putting it off, but I finally found someone who was willing to strap in and help me navigate this "transitional period" of my life.
Her guidance as to why my grief hit seemingly out of nowhere was life-changing, to put it lightly. This March, I knew I needed a solution to the scrapes and bruises accumulating on my legs from running into various pieces of furniture, the trailer outside, and the fireplace mantle... Something had to be done!
So this March I did things differently.
My mom was a water lover, through and through. The majority of my childhood outside of school was spent either at the beach, the county pool or lounging in a pint-sized blow-up pool in the backyard. My earliest memories with her include building sandcastles and mermaids on the beach together, clutching to her side while she walked around in the murky Gulf of Mexico water, and picking the little bits of dried shell off of my legs on the way home in the back of the car. When I think of her, I think of the ocean.
With the encouragement of my favorite mental health professional, my husband, my father, and my business partner, I booked a flight to a city I've never been to and a room in a B&B by the beach. The itinerary was limited to: eating good food, drinking a sh*t load of water, and sitting on the beach. I resigned from doing any serious lead generation or making important decisions for the weeks leading up to the trip and handed everything to my trusted partner.
And I'm just gonna say it...it made all the difference in the world.
There were moments I felt like Mom was showing up to tell me I was doing what I needed to do and that she was proud of me.
Breakfast from the B&B included homemade oatmeal with berries and brown sugar, one of Mom's go-to breakfasts on "cold" Florida mornings. (I literally always complained that it wasn't sweet enough because I was a brat, but hey - I like it now!)
I was pleasantly surprised to find at the bottom of my quiche, a matching plate to my mother's favorite salad bowl. (I sh*t you not, my family and I have easily consumed 1000+ salads from that bowl. My childhood friends will recognize it - it's a classic).
The weather was forecasted for rain the entire weekend and certainly persisted in the form of spotty clouds and heavy evening showers - but the sunshine she sent me during the day - Y'ALL:
Overall, it was the break I needed to refresh, recoup and connect with myself again.
Find good food: Accomplished.
Drink a sh*t load of water: In the form of herbal tea?
Sit on the beach: Done.
I was surprised by how many times I had to remind myself that "I deserve to take a long weekend to go to the ocean alone and grieve the loss of my mom." It was the first trip I've taken for me since becoming my own boss, and it was spectacular. She would have loved it there.
My mom would always tell me "once you really decide to do something, you just do it."
Those words rang truer than ever this March 27th and I can't wait to see what happens next year.
I'm hopeful this quick glimpse into my personal world of self-care and mental health has been helpful to someone, somewhere. I am so grateful for the support and love I've felt in the last month and a half. To my cherished friends who encouraged me to seek help and who've since taken the time to let me know I'm in their thoughts and those who've sent reminders that I'm on the right track, thank you - I am eternally grateful.
I seriously don't know how I've stumbled upon the best framily, but I'm never letting them go.
If you or someone you know is looking for the right person to talk to, I highly recommend finding a professional. There's no shame in it and I'm telling you, I never would have booked a ticket to California without the help of my trusted therapist.
Check out Erica's Website, as she is soon to be taking new clients and is genuinely the best in the business. Additionally, betterhelp.com is a resource with awesome options to find what works best for each person.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk!
Endlessly grateful for all of you,