Finding strength to move through grief with creativity

In 2012, my brother Lance was killed by a texting driver on his way home from the gym.  He had just left me a voicemail telling me to call him back and “show me some love” and I called back minutes later… but he was already gone.

That huge loss in my life changed everything for me.  For the better, and a few things for the worse. 

Out of my grief and deep depression, I learned so much. Trauma is a strange thing.  No two people react the same way.  But we are all bonded with some similar desires to find a new normal life and gain routine.  For me, his death launched this blog. It became my diary, my shoulder to cry on, and eventually my creative way to move forward.

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Why is finding a new normal important in the grieving process?

I wandered around for months after Lance died, trying to keep myself from crying and to try to find some balance.  I still had 5 kids to raise, a husband who needed my attention, and a life to live.  But even though I wanted to pull it all back together, I struggled to find my way because I wanted MY NORMAL back.  

But the truth is, once that trauma is introduced to your life…. that normal will never come back. 

Lance was self-made.  He was the kind of guy who did very well in his life, but only because he demanded the best from himself and from everyone around him.

After a lot of failed attempts to pretend that life would be okay with out him, I started seeing a therapist.  Honestly, she was terrible. She had no idea what to do with me and my enormous grief that was threatening to destroy my relationships and my family.  But she did help me with one exercise, writing a letter from Lance's point of view to myself and what he would tell me at that point in my life. 

His letter to me became the launching point of this blog, of my new normal. And I latched on to that sense of normal and let it become the seed of who I would eventually become.

Finding that new normal, nurturing that new life, it was crucial to my recovery from grieving and the addiction I had found in the sadness. 

Managing grief with creativity

I've always been a creative person. So when I decided to start a blog, I knew it would have to be a creative, artistic place for me to work through deeper issues.  It wasn't just a cooking blog, or a family blog.  Dancing With Fireflies was a place where you could discover so many different points of light, and for some, to know that they were not alone. 

In the beginning, many of the blog posts were diary entries like this:

 

This has been such an emotional week since the loss of my dearest friend and brother.  There have been times when I just felt so tired that all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and cover over with blankets and tears, but that isn't who I am.  Each day I fought to get up and dressed, get outside and work. I needed to be around people and never let the sadness of loss become the master of my day.

Today the final words were said, the flags lowered, and many tears shed for him. I needed to have a few moments to breathe, to think about how my life was going to move forward from this moment on without him in the physical realm of my life, as I know he will always be in the spiritual part. And while I know the next few days, weeks, months, and years will be hard because of this change brought on by the sudden loss of someone I cared deeply about, I am almost excited about who I will become.

He was a good man.  Yet in truth he struggled to know this for sure.  He was a great brother, but it took an effort to keep himself in that focus. Lance was funny, but not just because a comic.. it was because he never saw how funny his life actually was. He was a dear friend who would take your mind off your own troubles because he was too busy talking about his own life and it was exhausting to try to keep up with him and still feel badly about your own.

He made life extraordinary.   And I am so thankful for the time we shared in this life together.

I read a passage from Jonathan Livingston Seagull which called to me about the meaning of true friendship and loss and it inspired me to keep creating and moving forward.  I hope you will as well.  Peace,

Crysta

“If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we've destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don't you think that we might see each other once or twice?”

Grief does not come in pretty packages

This blog evolved as my grief receded. There were low moments where I just wanted to post sad thoughts, high moments where I pushed posts about only good things and enlightening quotes. And eventually, like my own life, it found a new normal in posting about recipes, farmhouse living, and dogs… all things that my life without my brother, became. A good one.

Grief doesn't come in pretty packages. It comes in waves that sometimes drown you and other times it's small and takes you by surprise that it even exists. 

You don't have to have a cookie-cutter recovery from grief. As long as you are trying, searching for your way through it.  That's what matters.  Hell, I almost lost myself to it, until I figured out a way to coat it in glitter and make it into something beautiful. 

And you can too.

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