Experiencing The Loss of a Loved One Who Is Still Alive

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A few days ago I posted about dementia on my professional Facebook page. It was evident that this is a topic that affects many people. How can it be that we grieve the loss of someone with dementia while they are still here?? I know from personal and professional experience that this is real-almost surreal. This is a very unique type of grief and loss that deserves it’s own category. Not only are people who have a loved one with dementia dealing with stressful care giving, they are trying to wrap their minds around the unpredictability and frustration that accompanies a diagnosis of dementia. Watching their person slip away before their eyes and knowing that they won’t “recover” is heart wrenching. This type of grief is experienced by care givers, friends and family twice, once as they person exists with the disease and again when they die. I wish that I had some super hopeful words of wisdom to make it all better but this is just so very difficult. One thing that is helpful is being able to appreciate the times when a moment of clarity appears and the person with dementia returns to their old self and remembers a name or memory. These are like little gifts although they may feel like a tease also. Laughter is also helpful, sometimes being able to laugh at something in the moment can alleviate some stress. What’s that old saying, “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying?” Crying has it’s place too, it can help relieve stress and force us to be in the moment. Finding a friend who will be present and listen (not try to fix it) is probably one of the most effective things you can do. If you would like to share your experience of grieving the loss of a loved one who is living with dementia, please share here. You never know, someone reading may need to hear your story…..If you would like to schedule a complimentary in person consultation with me, I can be reached at melinda@melindaruppert.com or 240-298-2442.

Loving, Remembering and Honoring

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You may have seen my posts for “An Evening of Remembrance” at Flora Corner Farm. This program is on Sunday, June 9th from 6-7 pm. Over the past few years I have met people who either did not have a chance to attend a funeral ceremony for a loved one (or there was not a ceremony to attend) or they have had a desire to set aside a special time to honor the memory of a loved one but they weren’t sure how to do that. I thought that this type of program may be a nice way to honor our loved ones through music, solitude and memories all in a beautiful and serene setting in the country.

A few weeks ago I wrote about signs and symbols and how those things can keep us connected to our loved ones. This is another one of those ways. A common concern among grieving people is that they fear that they will forget certain things about their loved one as time goes on…the sound of their voice, what their laugh sounded like, special memories or milestones. Setting aside a time devoted to thinking about them in this way is something that I often recommend. Looking at pictures, watching videos, listening to their favorite music or reading texts or love notes or simply just connecting with them in whatever ways appeal to you. It doesn’t matter how many years your loss has been, you can still practice this. Memory can be a gift yet it can also be very painful too at times.

If you would like to connect with your loved one through honor and memory, consider joining us for “An Evening of Remembrance.” There is no fee for this program but I do ask that you register here on my website. The evening will include a special reading of names, music, desserts and a small remembrance token. We will have a place to display pictures of loved ones if you would like to bring a picture (maximum size 8 x 10 and unframed). I will also have a memory tree to display special memories. Please share with anyone who may be interested!

So what about cardinals, feathers and pennies?

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The topic of “signs and symbols” has been on my heart for a long time. So many times when talking with a client who is grieving the loss of their loved one, this inevitably comes up. I feel honored to hear these stories of ways that people connect with the loved one they are missing. Over the years I have heard many accounts of mysterious “coincidences,” things that are really hard to explain in a logical sense. Stories of coins that appear out of nowhere, butterflies that land on someone’s shoulder and stay there for a long time, dragonflies that seem to suddenly appear and follow someone around. So many fascinating and moving stories…..And my own story, my husband and I were in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina a few years ago and we happened to end up a random casual restaurant for lunch. We were told to seat ourselves at an outside patio. After debating between two different tables, we sat down at the one my husband preferred (THAT never happens!). Once we were seated, my husband looked down and right in front of him on the table was written “Brogan.” Brogan is the name of our son who passed away in 2012. Brogan also happens to be a fairly unusual name, right?! Here’s a picture:

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These signs and symbols can feel like little ‘Hellos” from your loved one! They are a wonderful way for us to stay connected to them; these are the things that forever link us to them and them to us. After all, death does not end a relationship.

PS. My logo has a little bee in the center of the design. We used to call Brogan “Little B” and we often have bee encounters. I would love to hear some of your stories of connection! Please feel free to share!

The Art of Creative Mourning with Lisa Gillespie

 

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I am so very excited to welcome artist Lisa Gillespie here on Saturday, January 26th for our therapeutic art program! Lisa is a compassionate and talented artist who has a gentle way of helping others discover their creative side. This art program is for everyone-the person who sees themselves as creative and artistic and those who don’t feel artistic at all! We have chosen an art project that will be enjoyable and meaningful for people of all skill levels. With Lisa’s guidance we will be making beautiful memorial shadow boxes (you may bring your own or I will provide one). I will supply some art materials but we ask that you bring a photo or two and any items or mementos that symbolize your loved one. To learn more about Lisa please see her bio below! Visit http://www.melindaruppertlcpc.com to register for this program.

 

Lisa Gillespie

Artist and ASID Certified Interior Designer

Lisa Gillespie is an artist, interior designer and former professional chef with decades of design and art experience. A native to Charles County Maryland, she is a graduate of Towson University, and The Culinary School of Washington and continued her graduate level education at the Maryland institute College of Art in Baltimore and The Boston Architectural College in Massachusetts. In addition, she has studied art and design abroad at The American University in Paris. She is ASID Certified interior designer and principal of her own design business; Lisa Gillespie Designs and owner of The Treasure Nest, a vintage furniture and décor business.
Lisa moved back to Maryland in 2005 and was recently married to her wonderful husband Jim and is the proud mother of a beautiful teenage daughter Olivia.

A Spotlight on Amy Beebe of Sew Bella Keepsake Creations

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I have often been asked about tangible ways to remember and honor loved ones who have died. One way is to have a keepsake or memory item created from your loved one’s clothing. Not only can these items bring comfort but they can become family heirlooms. We are fortunate to have a very special person right here in southern Maryland who creates these beautiful and meaningful keepsakes. I recently interviewed Amy Beebe from Sew Bella Keepsake Creations. Here’s a bit about her story~

What is Sew Bella?

Sew Bella Keepsake Creations is mainly a business for making upcycled and repurposed clothing or baby blankets into stuffed animals, pillows, or quilts. The animals are my most popular request. I started it because a friend asked me to make her a teddy bear from her favorite sleeper that her daughter wore. The next one I made was a dolphin from a baby’s angel gown, as she had passed away in the hospital. The baby’s mother was so incredibly grateful that I wanted to offer the service to others.

How long have you been in business? 

Only a year but I have been sewing for about 15 years. I learned out of necessity when I was in the Navy, as there are no seamstress or tailoring services in the middle of the ocean.

What is most rewarding about what you do?

Most definitely the joy that I hear from my clients when they have received their finished products. I know that I am making a Mommy happy because her baby’s onesies are no longer stuck in a box somewhere or filling someone else’s empty arms. If I can relieve even a sliver of grief from someone makes it completely worthwhile.

Tell me about the most memorable project you’ve worked on.

I am currently working on 6 animals that were made from shirts belonging to my client’s husband who passed away. The animals are for her grandchildren.

What has been the most difficult project you’ve worked on?

I recently specially made 2 animals in memory of a friend’s nano-preemie babies who became angels soon after birth. I filled them with weighted beads to match their birth weights (only 1lb 2oz and 1lb 15oz). While they were not from the baby’s clothes, they are one of a kind. This project has by far been the most difficult as I am a mother myself and I can only imagine the heartbreak that losing a child must be. I can only hope these animals can help fill a little bit of a the void.

What would you like to work on but haven’t been presented with the opportunity yet?

I would love to create a shirt quilt someday! I know how to do it, I just have not had the order come through yet.

What do you want people to know about the work that you do?

I would like people to know that I take the utmost care and consideration when making the animals. I try to utilize all the important pieces and parts to make each one unique and beautiful.

How do you think your memorial items help those who are grieving?

I don’t know for sure but I can only hope that they can help with one’s grief.

Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you?

I am a mom and a veteran, married to a career military man. We are Maryland transplants but love the area! I am also a photographer and a perpetual student. I love to learn new things, especially ones that I can use my hands to create. Also if there is an animal that you don’t see, then I will try to find a pattern.

What’s the best way for people to contact you?
My email is ethanandmom@gmail.com or through my etsy page  www.etsy.com/shop/sewbellakeepsakes

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