Marking the End of a Life

Happy Friday, RISERS! I hope this week has been good to you. With Halloween just a few days away, many trunk-or-treat events will be happening this weekend. And on Tuesday, the actual night of Halloween, please be extra careful as you partake in merry activity. Make sure you have adequate visuals to keep from getting hit by vehicles. If traveling in a group, stay together and check periodically to make sure that nobody got left behind. Happy hunting…

Quote of the Week: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” –Winnie the Pooh

Nugget of Wisdom of the Week: I know that I touched on the subject of grief a few weeks ago, but this week, I want to cover it a bit further. Yesterday, my stepmother of 37 years was officially declared dead. She’d had a brain aneurysm rupture earlier in the week and finally donated her organs. This has been the third death in my family since July. My mother-in-law of 33 years passed away in July, and my uncle died in August. While death is a natural part of life, the sadness it causes is something that many people struggle to overcome.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the importance of staying together in groups while trick-or-treating. My family learned this the hard way when my 4-year-old cousin, Jonathan, was hit and killed by a car on a dark street in 2000, while going door-to-door in their neighborhood. It is awful when tragedy strikes at a time that should be so much fun.

Probably all of us have heard that grief has many stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Knowing about these stages doesn’t make it any easier to handle the situation when it is thrust upon you, though. What can make it even more difficult is the status of a relationship at the time of loss. I wish I could say I was close to my stepmother, but that isn’t the case. When my dad married her, he moved out of state and became the full-time dad to her two daughters and then my half-brother. Seeing them only once or twice a year made it difficult to bond. Then, four years later, I got married and moved away myself. I have struggled all week with how I am supposed to be feeling, since my stepmother and I had no real relationship for me to grieve.

Several things can make it easier to cope with loss. Keep in mind that you must let yourself embrace whatever emotions the loss brings out in you. Don’t let yourself put a time limit on the grief. It takes different amounts of time for each person to deal with the hole in their lives. Be sure to contact family and friends, and don’t be afraid to honor and celebrate the person after they are gone. Try not to spend too much time dwelling on the pain. When or if your feelings get too much to bear, seek professional help to give you additional coping strategies to ease the heartache.

Finally, feeling a bit sad this holiday season when you see an empty seat at the table is perfectly all right. My father died three years ago, and it still feels abnormal not visiting with him at holiday time.

Recipe of the Week: Oven-baked potatoes

What you’ll need:

4 medium russet potatoes

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. paprika

4-6 tbsp. olive oil

Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Wash the potatoes and pat dry. Slice the potatoes no more than halfway down, angling the cut to get a crispier potato. Mix all the seasonings together. Spritz the potatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle the seasoning mix evenly over potatoes. Bake for 45 minutes or until desired crispiness.

Shout Out of the Week: This week, I want to shout out to those who assist in caring for people when they pass away…devoted friends and family members, doctors and nurses, staff at hospitals and skilled care facilities, hospice caregivers, and clergy who deliver a eulogy. Also, thank you to counselors and chaplains who sit and talk with patients before they die. It is comforting to know that people like you are called to care for individuals at the end of their lives. You are greatly appreciated.

Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!

Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.

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