how i do grief, and my serious mad girl crush on Jeanette LeBlanc

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I have a little grief gremlin in my head, he moved in at 3am PST on March 25, 2014….he took up residence while my mama was taking her last breath here on this earth and my heart cracked wide open and a huge gaping hole knocked my world off it’s axis.

My little grief gremlin was sitting on my shoulder this morning as I was about to read a blogpost by Jeanette LeBlanc of {peace.love.free}. Her blog is one of my favorites. I absolutely love Jeanette LeBlanc. Like, serious mad girl crush LOVE her. She and her blog were one of my inspirations for starting my own blog. And I always like/love/am inspired by pretty much anything she posts/writes/breathes. Today she re-posted an article called ‘115 ways to heal your own broken open heart, self care for the times you need it most’. (http://www.peacelovefree.com/2013/10/10/self-care/)

I read it, because I always read her. But even before I started reading, my little grief gremlin was gnawing away and whispering spittle in my ear, ‘Psssht. Right. Let’s see what froo froo frilly woo woo feel good shit she has to say about THIS.’ (Apparently, my inner grieving gremlin is a super judge-y little guy, with ill-conceived/pre-conceived assumptions of what the article (and Jeanette) contained. Also, he’s apparently full of bitterness and resentment? For a grief gremlin, he is admittedly not doing grief very well…whatever the hell that means). So I start reading in the hopes that I will find the magic potion recipe that I need to heal my own cracked open grieving heart, the recipe I’ve been searching for….

“buy a lavender plant. fall asleep with sprigs of it on your chest. breathe it deeply, all the way inside.
back to the mat, no exceptions. fall asleep in savasana. cry in pigeon. laugh out loud in happy baby.
mascara and groomed brows, always. red lipstick when you need it most. save your highest heels for the days you feel the lowest. wear clothing as costume. match it to your mood. always wear perfume, it helps you remember yourself. chin up. best foot forward…”

and on and on and on. A big long list of 115 froo froo frilly woo woo feel good shit. And I was getting angrier and angrier and angrier with each line that I read, and falling more and more out of serious mad girl crush love with her. I felt my body tensing up. My face getting hot. My stomach knotting. My toes curling. The armor packing itself on and on and on itself. My little inner grieving gremlin was screaming and spitting and breathing fire down my neck. RUBBISH! IT’S ALL RUBBISH! PURE SHIT! SHIT SHIT SHIT! THESE DON’T WORK FOR THE HARD SHIT! THE MOST DIFFICULT SHIT. THE BREAK YOUR HEART OPEN SHIT! DAMNIT NOTHING IS WORKING!!! NOTHING WE’VE TRIED IS WORKING!!! He was pissed and ready to rage war.

And then I got to…..
let the sadness flatten you. stay in bed until it lifts. do not rush your grief. do not rush your grief. do not rush your grief.

oh….

And…
let the music be your mourning and your memory. let the music be your celebration and your reclamation. let the music be. let it wind it’s way through you. let it all wind it’s way through you. it will anyway, so don’t try to fight.

wow….

And also….
it’s okay if you fight.

And suddenly my bitter resentful little inner grieving gremlin took a deep cleansing breath and quieted down. He lay his hand on my heart and slowed my breathing. He wiped my forehead with a cold damp cloth and cooled me down to my core. He gently pulled off layers of armor and started untying the knots in my stomach, one by one. He massaged my toes. He wiped his spittle from my ear and neck. In a hushed voice he sweetly apologized for his crassness and negativity. For his automatic assumption that Jeanette has serious mad girl crush love for ME so she wrote this piece for me and only MY own type of broken open heart. Wow. Narcissistic much? He’s so protective of me that he forgot that the world does not revolve around me and my own broken open heart. And he forgot that what works for one, does not work for another. We each take a snippet here and a bit there as we go through life and mend our way. And we are all in different places along the way. Different paths, each with their own distinct peaks and valleys and gullies and pot holes and clearings and forests and deserts and hills and plateaus and summits.

I sat with him, my little grieving gremlin, and Jeanette whom I serious mad girl crush love so much, and I sat. I leaned in, as silent tears slid down my cheek and plunked down on my lap. I HAVE let the sadness flatten me. I’ve BEEN staying in bed waiting for it to lift. I’m NOT rushing my grief. I’m doing my damnedest to let the music BE. And NOT fight it some days. And FIGHT it other days and be OKAY with that. These ARE the ways I do it. And I do them well. She’s done it. She’s uncovered some of the ingredients in the magic potion recipe.

So I read and re-read Jeanette’s piece. And I took my bits, the ones that work for me. And I left behind the pieces, the ones that don’t work for me, in a pristine condition. Because someone else will need those pieces just as badly as the bits I took that work for me. And the more I read my bits, the ones that worked for me, the more I realized how much I am FEELING. And this. This is big. I don’t even realize yet how big this is. But I know it’s pretty. damn. huge. Because for the better part of 10 months (and even longer when you factor in past traumas/heartbreaks/despairs/life shit that some of us go through and all of us go through) I have tried so very hard to NOT feel. Because the feeling, it’s shit and despair and just so fucking hard. It sucks with a capital S. It beats me down and buries me and leaves me feeling so alone. And so stuck. And so disconnected, from everything and everyone.

But Jeanette LeBlanc ({peace.love.free}) and Amy Ferris (#TribeMoxie) and Tom Zuba (Permission to Mourn) and Mark (fucking) Manson and Jen Pastiloff (The Manifest-Station) and Brene Brown (Daring Greatly) and Glennon Doyle Melton (Momastery) and Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert and Oprah Winfrey and Tina Fey and Iyanla Vanzant and Sarah Kay and Anne Lamott and Pema Chodron and The Dalai Lama and and and….the list of amazingly inspiring people goes on. And that list also includes so many amazingly inspiring friends and family that are my people, my tribe, whom I know have walked this grief path before me and lived to tell the tale….Tom Zuba is telling me to lean in…to feel it…to be…in my grief, and giving me ‘permission to mourn’. Jeanette LeBlanc is prescribing to let my ‘sadness flatten’ me. Amy Ferris is telling me to ‘be my perfectly imperfect messy self and wear my scars like stardust and wear them to the nines’. Jen Pastiloff is showing us how to ‘do love’. Mark Manson is telling all of us to ‘not give any fucks’. Brene Brown has done the research to prove that we need to ‘show up, be seen, be brave; be vulnerable’. And Glennon Doyle Melton/Momastery is cheering all of us on and helping us to believe that ‘love wins’.  And they can’t ALL be wrong! Right?

They aren’t saying it won’t be the hardest. thing. ever. They aren’t saying that it won’t flatten me. Or that I’ll get over it or have closure or put all the pretty pieces back together the way they were before. Instead they are telling me that what feels like a breakDOWN might actually be a breakTHROUGH. Whoa. That’s really fucking huge. That’s something. That changes the whole game. That makes me think that maybe those days when I’m feeling like such an utter failure (you know the ones, when you’re sobbing on the shower floor), maybe just maybe, I’m not. Or at the very least, not completely. Maybe just maybe, I can give myself that. And that, changes the whole perspective.

So I continue on this grief path and miss the hell out of my mama and just.want.her.back. And I scream and kick and wail and snot-nose-sob on the shower floor, or in the grocery store aisle on a kind stranger’s shoulder, and fight or don’t fight and let it flatten me and shake me to very core. Of course I do.

OF COURSE I DO.

That’s what I do to mourn and grieve the greatest loss of my life. And man, I do it well! And I LET myself feel on the days that I can. And I hunker down behind padded locked doors away from everything and everyone on the days that I just can’t. And in between, in a repetitive loop I play the memory reel of my life’s story which is so completely intertwined with my mom and her life story. I see her and feel her and smell her and hear her. And my heart cracks wide open as I try to figure out how to live my days without her when all I’ve ever known is how to live them with her. Because this, all of this, is what my journey looks like and how my journey feels.

And my little grieving gremlin and I send out our apologies into the universe to Jeanette LeBlanc, who I have a serious mad girl crush on and love so so so much. (If you know her, please please please introduce us. I promise I won’t be creepy or stalky or anything like that…ok maybe just a little teeny tiny fan-girly, just serious mad girl crush love for her and her brilliant gorgeous heart). And we thank you for this gorgeous brilliant list of tools that WILL and DO help us to heal and take care of ourselves.

And who knows, maybe I’ll just go buy a lavender plant, and some red lipstick…..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS: If you aren’t already, go follow Jeanette. She’s inspiring. She’s the real deal, not to mention she’s fucking drop dead gorgeous. And so are all of those other amazingly inspiring names I dropped. Follow all of them, too. You’ll thank me 😉
http://www.peacelovefree.com
https://www.facebook.com/peacelovefree
Twitter: @jeanetteleblanc

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16 thoughts on “how i do grief, and my serious mad girl crush on Jeanette LeBlanc

  1. amy ferris January 15, 2015 / 12:08 am

    you.
    gorgeous stunning sexy messy complicated awesome truthful fucking amazing heart-stopping courageous brilliant shiny sparkly glitter-filled imperfectly perfect you.
    i think it is safe to say (mid wine) that we’re all gonna start having a mad-love-crush on you big fucking time.
    yes.
    yes.

    yes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breathe in. Breathe out. Live. January 15, 2015 / 1:05 am

      Amy, you. And, wow. Just, holy fucking wow. And thank you. And thank you. And thank you. This, me writing again, I owe it all to you. Your support and encouragement was what gave me the courage to put pen to paper again, after so many years of being afraid to even look inside, much less write what’s inside. So mad love for you. ❤

      Like

  2. ryderziebarth January 15, 2015 / 2:25 am

    My dad died ten weeks ago and I miss him like crazy. Thank you for this. I am tired and stiff and eating too much sugar that won’t sweeten the biter taste in my mouth, and I have bronchitis and need to write an essay for grad school but I really just want to watch net flicks in my nightie all day and talk to my mom on the phone and ask her how she is so I can gauge how I am doing because if she can do it after 67 years with him, I can do it after 60 and I needed this today and I thank you for it..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breathe in. Breathe out. Live. January 15, 2015 / 6:26 am

      I am so sorry for your loss. 10 weeks, 10 months…10 minutes or years. They’re our parents. They are us. We are them. It’s awful and horrible and sad and life shattering. I know it is. I am on that couch with you watching netflix. I’m exhausted and I drink coffee and eat chocolate and not much else. I am also learning to let myself do those things when I need to, instead of doing all the other things I ‘should’ be doing. Take care of yourself. Thank you for reading and commenting. And for sharing yourself with me. So glad you did. Sending you love and strength, and let’s pick out what we’re going to watch on netflix. xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeanette Leblanc January 15, 2015 / 5:01 am

    Wow. I’ve been a little speechless for the past few hours. Trying to take this in.

    I wrote this in the fall of 2013, months I spent on the ground. (Quite literally some nights, curled in a fetal position on my hardwood floor near my altar). This post was written on one of the days that I needed this pep talk just to begin climbing the mountain that lay on top of me every morning. It was, quite literally, a road map for myself. A list that came from a desperate need to take stock of every damn last tool I had. It was a time of deep determination. And I did it dammit. I scraped and pulled and got off that ground. And it fucking sucked and it was so hard and there were some days that little rituals like the lavender where the things that kept me tethered to this life and to my own wild and broken heart.

    And I so get him, your gremlin. And I ache for you in the loss of your mother (and my gremlin yells at me, who am I to write of grief. Clearly I do know nothing). And I still can’t quite take them all in, your words. Don’t quite know where or how to place them yet.

    But I will say that right now I do have a pretty mad crush on you.

    Much love
    Jeanette.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breathe in. Breathe out. Live. January 15, 2015 / 6:52 am

      ‘months i spent on the ground’…I know that ground well. Thank you for the pep talk, it helped me in ways I can’t even explain (well, I guess I sorta did in the piece). Unfortunately we all know grief, in some way shape or form. And it’s different for all of us. And we are all grieving different losses. But they are losses. Knowing that you got off the ground and climbed your mountain….that is pure gold. And that is what gives me hope. And your toolbox….beautiful genius. Thank you for reading, and witnessing and just so much mad love. I can’t even.

      xoxo
      m

      Like

      • Jeanette January 15, 2015 / 8:26 pm

        You know. I had a friend once who thought me all i know about how we meet each other in this. I was grieving the end of my marriage. Which at the time felt like the end of all things. The end of family and dreams and the love with a man i thought i would grow old with. And that grief was complicated and twisted because I was choosing it, or it was choosing me – the path away. And because I didn’t do it clean, or with integrity. No – the path i took was messy and ugly, and that’s all on me. And I wrote my way through that story on a blog that no longer exists, and was mostly read by people who didn’t know me and a very trusted few who did. And one of them had just lost her son at 40 weeks. Her grief? One i had no translation for in my limited experience. By any measure – far more than mine. And yet – she read. And she held that space for me. And she wrote and shared in the ways that she could how our grief intersected and how we joined inside of that experience. And from her I learned that we have this limited language for grief, and for love and for sex and for all the rest. And that inside of that language there is universality and inside that universality is compassion and empathy and inside that compassion and empathy all of my hope for everything lived. I hadn’t thought about all of this for so very long, and thank you for bringing me here.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. callingonangels January 17, 2015 / 2:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Diary of a Crazy Awesome Person and commented:
    This touched little pieces of me. Pieces I have tucked away out of sight and out of reach. Pieces that came out as I read this piece and pieces that are now splattered over my carpet floor asking me “How do we get back up?” You see, because in an attempt to “seem okay” we tend to cover up our scars, hide our emotions and put on those life proof masks I’ve been talking about… But here you have it, be witness to the courageous, the brave, the raw and the gorgeous soul that is Melissa Dodson as she describes how one of my favorite writers (I also have a serious mad girl crush on Jeanette) helped her face her grief and get back up… This is the beauty that stems from vulnerability, from honesty, from truth. Grief. Pain. Disillusion. Disappointment. These are a part of Life. We all go through it at some point in time. But how do we survive? With Grace. With Compassion. With Gratitude for the Experience. With Kindness and with our Tribe… With gorgeous and gentle kindred spirits to learn from, lean on, laugh with, cry with, they are there with us for the falling apart and they celebrate us as we rise again. Here’s to breakdowns and breakthroughs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breathe in. Breathe out. Live. January 22, 2015 / 5:17 pm

      Thank yo so much for reading and reblogging (my first re-blog *squeeee*). I hate that other people are hurting, but if we can share our experiences and help each other to not feel so alone….that is something. Thank you ~melissa ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • callingonangels January 25, 2015 / 4:17 pm

        Dearest Melissa, if any gratitude should be extended it is to you – so thank you! the world is hurting, and you creating the space to talk about that hurt is more than something, it’s everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. katelon January 17, 2015 / 4:17 pm

    Thanks so much for this beautiful piece and for your courage. I grew up having someone close to me die every six years of my life…grandparents, a brother, and never was allowed to grieve, so when my grandmother died in 75, I moved into a deep dark wanna die depression. I, like many Americans, was pushed into drugs for it rather than a big listening heart, …friends left me… but I had a son to raise, so I kept moving forward, with no one to talk to about it. I went through many more losses, and depressions and finally, with a lot of work, stopped that endless cycle.

    I learned how to grieve, how to let myself feel, how to not let the feelings keep me flattened, and let the energy move through me. My son, my only child, my best friend, has left my life three times now, and I haven’t seen him for almost 8 years now, 8 painful fucking years, and yet I’ve managed to come to peace with that. I still miss my Mom who died in 99 and my brother who died in 69.

    So bless you and your grief, your anger, your pain and thanks so much for sharing your journey with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breathe in. Breathe out. Live. January 22, 2015 / 5:15 pm

      Thank you for reading and for your comments. I’m so glad this resonated with you. And I’m so sorry about all of the loss you have lived through. It’s just so much, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with me. I’m still on my path and knowing that others have lived and thrived, despite the pain and sorrow, it’s so helpful and makes us all feel not so alone. Thank you ~melissa ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. joyofdogs January 22, 2015 / 2:17 pm

    I read your comments to Tom Zuba which linked me to this – thank you. This is the hardest, toughest, most confusion, discombobulating, unfathomable work anyone ever does – coming to terms with grief. My son, Terry, died by suicide 4 1/2 years ago, I have been to hell and back, and I am back. Lean in, keep writing and thank you. Here is a link to a speech I gave at a suicide prevention conference in November 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSy3hU5hMEQ

    Liked by 1 person

    • joyofdogs January 22, 2015 / 2:18 pm

      I don’t write often in my blog but you might find it helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Breathe in. Breathe out. Live. January 22, 2015 / 5:33 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting. But even more, thank you for the work you do. Grief is tragic and heartbreaking, and to take it and make your experience a blessing to others, to tell your story and touch so many people…that connection is what helps others to survive. Thank you ~melissa ❤

      Like

  7. thispedestrianlife March 4, 2015 / 11:29 pm

    I lost my own mother almost 4 years ago and I can relate to every raw feeling you’ve so openly expressed.bWe share many of the same writer loves and I’m so glad to have discovered you and your way with words. Write on sister! I’ll boldly throw myself in with the rest and will be there to remind you of your moxie and toss you some sparkle, Amy Ferris style, when you need it the most! Peace and Love❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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