Happy Birthday, Maddie!
As I write this, it’s Monday, April 18th, my normal blogging day to write. And it would be my daughter, Maddie’s, 26th birthday if she were alive. This is the 4th birthday without her. The last one we celebrated with her was 4/18/18 when she turned 22 years old.
I know I’m breaking rules of writing content that is not necessarily aimed at your needs by writing about ME. So I apologize for that upfront and hope that I can help you somehow, in the sharing of my own experience, restore order to your life after a trauma like divorce or loss.
The Story of Maddie and Bohemian Rhapsody
I want to write about Maddie today, and how her not being here has affected me. I remember a few months before Maddie died, we were in the car together, going to get groceries or something, and the song, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, came on the radio.
We both just listened to it without speaking. There was this eerie feeling. I knew she loved the song, but I’d never really listened that closely to it. This time, the words frightened me because they felt too close to home. One week after Maddie died, my husband, Steve, my daughter, Chelsea, and her boyfriend, Brandon, went to see the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, that had just come out.
A client even bought a painting with the words of the song surrounded by a heart. So it means a lot to me. I typically listen to it on a Pandora station called Bohemian Rhapsody.
Last Friday, 4/15/22, I saw my friend, Stephanie, for Reiki. On the drive to see her, the song, Bohemian Rhapsody, came on the radio, which is a rare occurrence that I hear it there. It’s 6 minutes long and I was sad because I wanted to hear the whole thing and knew I’d get to Stephanie’s before it ended, and I was already running a little late.
For some odd reason, the GPS automatically re-routed my path. I just followed it, knowing immediately I’d turned down the wrong street. Ironically it allowed me to finish listening to the song, because the very second I pulled into the parking lot, it concluded.
In the song, Freddie Mercury, the lead singer in Queen, sings about his life in a symbolic way. He’s singing to his Mama, regretting some of his decisions, saying, “If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters…too late my time has come, sends shivers down my spine, body’s aching all the time…goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go…gotta leave you all behind and face the truth… I don’t want to die…I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.”
When I saw Stephanie, I told her what happened. She searched for the song on her phone and began playing it. Her eyes filled with tears almost straight away. She’s an empath and feels what I’m feeling.
The song elicits my loss, longing and sadness that Maddie is no longer here in the flesh. Stephanie felt that. I knew she did. YET….I felt the walls come up within myself, this voice saying, “Better rein in those emotions—keep it together.”
As is Stephanie’s way, she said something to the effect, “Isn’t it funny how we don’t allow ourselves to process grief publicly?”
She is so right. We DON’T allow ourselves to feel safe in publicly expressing our grief. I replied, “You’re right. I would fall apart. I have to hold it together or I couldn’t function.”
This may sound like I have been repressing my grief these last 3.5 years, but that’s not the case at all. I am a private griever. I allowed myself to cry daily for probably the first year, as a form of release I intuitively knew my body needed to stay healthy.
Learn to Let it All Go
If you’re like me and perhaps most people and find public displays of grief and vulnerability to be difficult, it’s OK. You’re doing what your body and mind want you to do—keep you safe.
The trick is that you’re not really staying safe by holding back the tears and not allowing yourself to let go. Does it have to be done in public? No it doesn’t. Like I said, I’ve in large part done it privately. Bottom line is that you FEEL your loss, longing and grief somehow, someway.
How to Cry Exercise
There is a very effective exercise, “How to Cry,” on page 234 in the book, Life After Loss, by Bob Deits. I’ve paraphrased the process here:
“Go into a room that has sentimental importance and photographs of the one who is gone. Turn the lights down low, and turn on soft music. Think about the person who has died or the dreams for a happy marriage that are gone, etc. Remember the most intimate times. Think about your loss. Turn your feelings loose. Hold a pillow in your arms and cry into it. Rock back and forth. Yell if you want to. Call out your loss. Feel it completely. Let your feelings go for as long as they want to come out.”
You get the idea. Deits says that after doing this exercise tears won’t be a problem for you in working through grief, but they become a source of healing.
We are all going to die some day, and that can be hard to accept. We can try to hold on tight to life, control matters, control people to do what we think they should do. Wouldn’t it be better to really LIVE while we are here on this planet, instead of living in fear of our and our loved one’s imminent death?
Maddie would want me to be happy while I’m here and so would your loved ones.
By acknowledging my sadness and grief, feeling my feelings, letting the tears flow, feeling into the memories, I begin to heal my heart.
How can you restore order after a devastating loss?
1) Don’t try to hold it all together. It’s not realistic.
2) Give yourself permission to really cry (try the How to Cry Exercise).
3) Talk to people about the one you love; you deserve to get support.
I will always miss Maddie. Personally, I believe she’s still with me, just not in the physical form. Is this a coping mechanism? Some might think so. But I believe we are all energy, and that energy doesn’t disappear after someone dies—it gets transformed.
Maddie was Human
I dedicate this writing to my sweet Maddie, who was silly, frisky, humorous, moody, loving, loyal, blaming, insecure, beautiful, addicted to sugar, organized. She was an animal-lover, especially of dogs, a great hip-hop dancer, terrible joke teller, loved frogs and turtles, appreciated great conversations of a deep nature with her friends and family, loved Parcheesi and cards, loved to swing, eat gummy bears, and could eat Sushi and all sorts of food like no one’s business.
She was human—she was real. “Life is too short to be anything other than yourself,” she said.
Thank you for listening.
If you can relate to what I’m saying, please comment and share your story of loss and healing. Just like the song Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics, “Will not let you go. Never let you go. Let me go….no no no no no!” it is hard to let go and move forward when we’ve lost someone we dearly love.
And yet, what is the alternative? We could live but not really live and die of a broken heart. I believe a better way to honor our dead is to live with passion and purpose and to MOVE FORWARD with them in our heart and energy, to alchemize all of that pain into helping another.
To Your Healing,
PS: Our next free, virtual class is 5/10/22. Register now and get some relief from the pain and frustration of trying to go through divorce alone. “3 Secrets to Survive the Stress of Divorce”
Your blog was perfect timing. And thank you for being vulnerable so we can feel free to allow our own grief too. My best friend just died two days ago after a long journey with a rare leukemia. We were like sisters to each. So much that she refused to talk with me in her last two months of suffering. She lived a 12 hour drive away and I could not be there because I was caring for my dad, who is also declining. I will miss her so much. In time I will allow myself some time to grieve, but for now my dad and mom need me. Thank you again for your courage to write about Maddie.
Hi Kathy, so sorry to hear of the loss of your best friend. My heart goes out to you and I’m sending you so much love. May you find the strength to care for your parents as you grieve your friend.
I just went and cried at my Mom’s graveside today after visiting my Dad’s property. I miss them both so much. I lost them in 2008 and 2018, respectively. Grief is a testament of love. No shame in tears. Love you bunches. Grief is healing.