Excerpt – Introduction

I don’t know what brought me to write my first few paragraphs. These were written at the very beginning of this family crisis. They were forgotten for months until it became evident I needed to journal to manage my stress and retain my sanity during this emotional and heartbreaking episode of my life.

To witness and accompany someone you love dearly on their journey to the next world is a choice and a privilege, and by far one of the most challenging emotionally and psychologically. One can easily get lost in the turmoil. You mourn from the day you hear the drastic news and it continues beyond the funeral. It can easily become chronic.

I return to writing this book, days after my sister’s passing. Initially I thought it would be my gift to her but it became extremely difficult emotionally. I was reliving the past year all over again but this time retrospectively. If only I had known. Today I complete this book because there is no return. Could it be a call for understanding?

Sharing my father’s journey was one of the most enriching experiences in my life: sharing my sister’s was totally different. Although there were similarities, our close relationship as sisters and friends made it unique and difficult to let go. It continues to be surreal.

Upon her passing, I was tormented with feelings of guilt, selfishness and shame. I believed I abandoned her during her last days. I sought comfort in reviewing our emails. Particularly the ones where she would thank me for helping her and tell me she loves me.

I struggle to understand my emotions and the different stages of my mourning. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to look at her picture, or to call her name aloud. Other times, I was upset with her children for what I perceived to be their lack of contribution and dependency. Why was it so easy for them to let go?

My feelings are based on my perspective, my reality, my mourning – here and now.

By writing this book, I am reminded of her children’s participation. In my grief, I had simply forgotten what they had done. Although the year has gone by quickly, we covered a lot of ground and it was one of discovery and one of love.

I continue to be reminded that my attitude and need for control and perfection are my choices. I also realize I need to move on. Letting go does not mean we love her less.

My hope is that this book will bring closure, an appreciation for our love and innocence, and an understanding that death is part of life … part of living. Sharing my experience is my gift to my family, to my sister, and to me. It is my gift to you and to others who may be struggling in the same way.

It could be anyone’s journey, but it’s not … it’s ours.