October 2nd, 2005:
Johnny: “Don’t forget to call and check on me, okay?”
Me: “Okay, I Love You”.
Johnny: “Love you too…”
October 5th, 2005: The day I lost the greatest gift my parents have ever given to my sister and me, our little brother…Johnny.
The final dialogue I had with my 16 year old brother, who I thought had a bad case of the flu, are words that are tattooed on my brain. Words that haunt me yet simultaneously bring me great joy because I know they were significant and sincere…
It has been 11 years since Johnny has passed but the grief is still ebbing and flowing in my heart. Everyone grieves in their own way but here are 3 personal actions that have helped me experience joy after this tragic loss.
1. Keep reading God’s Word.
As you read, the Holy Spirit will strengthen your faith and stop you from falling into depression. The strength you need to regain from the massive loss of a loved one is not attainable without God’s help.
2. Try to remember the happy times and share your memories with others (especially your children).
My children and I look at pictures together and we talk about their Uncle Johnny all the time. Whatever you do, try not to make your lost loved one a forbidden subject. I’ve been around people who don’t even want to mention their name let alone stories of them. If we cherish the memories of our diseased loved one, shouldn’t we share them?
3. Do something in honor of that loved one’s memory regularly.
It’s a great way to keep their memory alive and carry on their legacy. My brother was an avid giver. When Johnny was about 8 years old, he ‘found’ $200 dollars in my dad’s pants pocket and decided to distribute the $20 bills to most the kids in the neighborhood. They all went to the store to buy candy and water guns compliments to my hard-working dad. So every year, I give to the MRSA Foundation in honor of him. My family has also given college scholarships to young students at his former high school, in Zion, IL and Tallahassee, Florida.
“Those whom we have loved never really leave us. They live on forever in our hearts, and cast their radiant light onto our every shadow.” ~Sylvana Rossetti