The Power Of Friendship In Times Of Grief With Geraldine Newson

WRT 10 | Power Of Friendship

 

The power of friendship is truly mind-boggling. It serves as crutches when you can’t walk. It is your most reliable support system during desperate times. In this episode, Geraldine Newson shares the value of having friends you can rely on when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. She explains the importance of keeping people you can trust by your side during the long process of grieving. Geraldine also opens up on the significant role of friends in achieving inner healing.

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide

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The Power Of Friendship In Times Of Grief With Geraldine Newson

The OGs

My guest is Miss Geraldine Newson. You will remember her from our first episode because she interviewed me and now it is Jerri’s turn to sit in that seat and tell her journey and share her experience. My girl has got some pearls of wisdom to give to you. We should have got the tissues early. I need to do better about that. Let’s have this conversation.

 

WRT 10 | Power Of Friendship

 

My guest is Miss Geraldine Newson. She did my initial interview. Now the eye is on Jerri. We are going to get to know a little bit about Jerri and I get to interview her. Jerri, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tina, I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I’m the youngest of five. I had 2 brothers and 3 sisters. Now there were three of us. I moved here in 1987 with my then fiancé, and we later got married. I have been here since. I have been working. I have 3 wonderful adult children, 4 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. All of them are my heart, every single one of them. I have come to love living here and the relationships I have built. A lot of that started with our relationship together because I believe this is the longest relationship friendship I have had since I moved here. I never told you that.

I am not here with my tissue. I am not here for this.

It was hard to find friendships.

Why is that?

The mothers of my children’s friends were a little bit standoffish. The first church that I attended was predominantly White, and I had female relationships with the women. It was a little tough to keep those to be lasting relationships. It is a come-and-go type thing for a season, but our season is still going because it is a lifetime.

You said working. What type of jobs have you had over the years since being here in Virginia?

When I first came here, I was working for an attorney.

In what capacity?

I was the transcriber. I transcribed all of his recorded documents. It was a lot of typing all the time. I was there for several months. He merged with another company and he couldn’t take the whole staff. I started working with commercial and residential real estate. That was one of the things I thought I wanted to get into because I loved real estate management. I did learn the tricks, trades, and some of the things about it. However, the agents that worked there weren’t working. This was a hobby for them.

There wasn’t a real grind going on.

After three years, I knew I had to start looking for another job.

There was no growth potential.

None at all. I was the office manager. You name it, I did it. The owner of the company had her own thing going on.

Even the owner had a side gig.

She had a side life.

I’m going to leave that with the tea. I’m going to leave that right there. I’m going to drink my tea on there.

I finally started looking for another job. I saw a job that I had vacated when I left Pittsburgh. I worked for Duquesne University. I was working in the Admissions Department. At that time, they had newspapers. The daily press was out. I was looking through the newspaper, and I saw this job. I looked at my husband and said, “My job is in the paper.”

The first thing he thought was I was getting fired from my job. I said, “No, the job I left in Pittsburgh is here in this paper, and I applied for it. It was Christopher Newport College, and it was in the Admissions Department. I was excited. Back then, there were paper applications, and it was long. It was a legal-size paper. It was a lot to do, but I couldn’t wait to get it filled out and turned in.

When they called for the interview, I went for the interview. They called and made me an offer. I was excited and stayed in that capacity with Christopher Newport for many years. I had hit the ceiling in that office, but I couldn’t find myself working in another department. I applied for another job. I applied, at that time, to Thomas Nelson Community College, which is now Virginia Peninsula Community College. I stayed there for many years. I have been in this field for almost 36 years in 2023 because my time in Pittsburgh was six years doing that.

You also worked at the University of Pittsburgh. You said you stayed there for eighteen years. What happened after eighteen years?

I retired on January 1st, 2023. It took a while to get into the mode of being retired because I have been working since I was in high school.

No one counted low-key babysitting at other subways.

The table you clean an auntie’s house. I said, “From the age of sixteen, I have been working except for four years of my life.” I was ready to retire.

Are you fully retired, Jerri?

I am not fully retired. I’m working part-time with an event rental and planning business, but it is not like work.

This is more of a passion and joy.

It is because I have done some of it before, but this has taken me into the whole business of it, and I love it. It is part-time, three days a week, and whenever we have an event on weekends.

What do you do in that process of the event?

First of all, it is meeting with the clients and finding out what they want and desire. I’m heading them in the right direction with colors and how the decor would look. I’m getting all that stuff ready, setting it up for them, and watching their eyes when they see what it looks like. You have to take everything down, pack it back up, and take it back. Even if that is work, it fulfills me.

That is more people stuff I hear you do. You did Mary Kay.

I did Mary Kay for several years.

You enjoyed that more than people.

There was a lot of work I had to do on the flip side. When I went to Thomas Nelson, I started recruiting. I didn’t have a lot of time to do that. Plus, I was pursuing a degree. There wasn’t a lot of time for weekends. Meeting with my Mary Kay clients and getting new clients is a lot of work. I enjoyed it so much. I did makeovers. I remember doing your makeover. I needed to make a portfolio.

When I graduated from college, I had this black suit. I believe it was a white blouse. I purchased it at JCPenney’s because that was where you went to get stuff. You helped me do my makeup for my first job interview.

I forgot I did that part.

You helped edit the resume too.

I have been helping people and doing things for people. I’m working at my church in the Hospitality Ministry.

Hospitality at church and event planning.

It is my passion. Helping people is what God had designed when He created me. I thanked Him for that because I remember when I was a young Christian and people were talking about their gifts. I’m like, “I don’t know what gift I have.” My God said, “You pray about it and find out what your gift is.” I asked him to open up my eyes. I started reading and my gift was giving and helping other people. It makes me feel good.

If you want to know your gifts, pray to God and ask Him to open your eyes. Share on X

It is something about knowing what you are called to do and being able to fulfill that on top of it. When did you and I meet, and do you recall how I played out?

It was because I was such a social butterfly. I used to go to different offices, the registrar’s office, the business office, and the financial aid office. That is how we met because I know you were a work-study student there at that time. I would go and talk to the other staff members. We were talking one day, and you said something about your sister coming here to go to school. I was like, “That was nice.”

When she came, she was looking for a work-study job. I said, “She can work study with us in admissions.” She worked with me in admissions. From that, not only did we have a relationship, you and I, but me, you, Denise, and your husband, Mark. I met the whole family at graduation. Meeting your sisters and your parents was wonderful. Your mother is quiet, but I got to know the family. What year did you graduate?

1993 from Christopher Newport undergrad.

That is when I met your family. You knew my children and grandson.

That is a lot of time. You said that was the start of other friendships. What friendships evolved from that?

From that, not only with your family but there were two other young ladies that worked there at the college. They were going to college and were work-study students. That was Alison Pool. She was in the business office.

When she worked in the business office, she wasn’t a student then.

Also, Vivian. I was like, “They were cool.” I met them over through you. I remember meeting Chris Wissmann, and Barbara stands out more. The reason why is that one of my sister’s sons passed away suddenly. It was in Chicago. I remember calling and talking to you about it. We were getting ready to have the first bonfire at the house in Gloucester.

I said, “I don’t think I’m going to come over.” You said, “You are going to come over because you need to get away from the house.” I thought, “I will do that.” I wasn’t pumped up about it, but it was the best thing ever because I was surrounded by other people. Even though I was with my husband, he wasn’t a caring, nurturing, and supportive-type person like that. He didn’t know how to do that. It was difficult to express to him how bad it hurt. He knew I was upset.

 

 

You had a need and were not quite sure how to articulate it to this person close to you, but knowing your need still needed fulfillment.

When I got over to your house, I knew I was sitting there, I was quiet for a while, and I was like, “Lord, there is nothing I can do at this point.” I couldn’t go to Chicago until two days later. It was a lot of things, but that is where I met Barbara. At that time, she was married to Rick.

We had been in the military together.

It was a joy listening to you all talk, laugh, and throw stuff on the bonfire to keep it going.

There was a lot of jumping through and being in the fire. We were hoping nobody got burned in the fire, but it was fun. There was hot cider-ish going around.

Those bonfires grew through the years. Not only that, but the friendships grew. I remember meeting Kim at one of the baby showers.

You surprised me with Alexander. I don’t know what happened with Catherine. There was one at work. There was one at the house. I can’t recall how that went out.

I met Kim. The gang there was now the crew. The OGs started getting together, and we were still in that friendship circle.

That is a long time, and still getting good, improving, and getting better over the years. You mentioned your siblings. Would you like to share about that a little bit?

My oldest brother was a dancer. We called him Lenny. His name was Leonard, He lived in Philly and New York, back and forth. He danced with the Alvin Ailey dance group and different dance groups there. He became HIV positive. It wasn’t long after he got pneumonia. He didn’t go through the whole suffering of everything that he got pneumonia.

I went up to Philly to see him when he was in the hospital when they first put him in. My parents and two sisters were there. My brother and his wife came up later. It was two days after I left. Mom was going to go back at the end of the month. My brother called and told me that he had passed. It was June 2nd. It was the year my son was graduating from high school. We went home for the funeral and had the funeral on Monday. My son’s graduation was Saturday.

That’s a lot of emotions to manage in a short period of time.

The family that I didn’t expect anyone to come, but my dearest longest friend I have had since third grade is my son’s godmother. She came with her husband and my godson to the graduation.

They were coming from Pittsburgh to Virginia.

I remember crying. I knew why I was crying. I was happy he was graduating, but I was sad that my brother wasn’t there. There was one thing that stood out. He had come down that spring. He hadn’t visited us before in Virginia. He came down and spent time with the kids because he loved those. He loves his nieces and nephews. My daughters are the only nieces and granddaughters my parents had. Eight boys, and then there came along two girls at the end. Out of 10 grandkids, my 2 girls.

Little queens and princesses over there.

Even to this day, their cousins treat them like China dolls. I’m like, “It had never changed. I’m happy.” He spent the time with the kids that I even told them, “You know me. I don’t normally do this, but you can stay home from school and spend that time with your uncle.” They did.

It is before the foreshadowing of death. You don’t know how things are playing out. That is a moment that was intentional on his behalf, but not realizing maybe how big it was. We have to seize those moments.

My sister, right above me, because I’m the youngest of five, passed away. As a young girl, she grew to look like a woman, but she still was a little girl. At the age of nine, she had a period. Her breasts were developing. She looked like a woman teenager.

Her body was her body developing quicker than her mind was.

There were other things we didn’t know then, but later on, we found that she was suffering from anxiety and mental illness. December 10th, 2022, my sister could not deal with life anymore. She had already tried taking her life several times. She would cut herself. My brother-in-law would contact my parents. They would go up to Chicago, where she lived, and help her get through.

Through the years, she was on medication after medication. This last time, she said she wasn’t going to take medicine anymore. She stopped taking it for a few years. We could see the change in her. She decided she was through, and she killed herself. She shot herself. It was the most difficult thing I had thought of before. I had dealt with some difficult times and death, but we were roommates until she got married. She got married when I was fourteen.

You all spent all those crazy girl nights staying up and talking.

We were throwing pillows and shoes and talking on the telephone when she moved away. We talked every day when she moved to Chicago.

That is when you get the phone bill from talking long distances in the long cord warping around the room.

When she moved to Chicago, I was like, “We are going to talk every day.” When the phone bill started coming in, you were like, “We cut this down to maybe twice a week.” Even when I moved here to Virginia, I took my children to her for the summer so I could get settled here because we had to find a house to live in. She kept the children. They did all types of things. They even went away. A lot of things they did at the church because her husband was a minister.

I was devastated to the point where I felt my whole body and brain were numb. I couldn’t think. It was more difficult with my brother mourning his loss because there was no one here once I got back. It is just me, my children, and my husband. I didn’t have any friends to speak about. When my dad and my mom passed many years later, I was thankful because I had seen them suffering. I knew they would be with the Lord.

I had a dog named Oreo. My mom passed in March. You came the same day. You came over to the house that evening. It was like a tag team. I had a friend who had picked me up and brought me home from work. You came and brought food. You tapped out. My daughter Melinda ended up being there next. These people are coming in and out. I used to hold my little dog. I get so much comfort from him in times I would be lonely. I love animals, mainly dogs.

It is an unconditional love you can get from an animal. They can hear about the day and not judge you.

He was happy I came home again. That was March. In June of the same year, a few months later, I was sitting on the porch talking with that same male friend with me that day. My dog is a playful little thing. He saw this gentleman running down the street. The man was jogging and started barking. I told him, “Oreo, stop. Be quiet.” He started going towards the sidewalk, and I said, “No, Oreo.” Before I could get his name out the third time, he had already run out into the street and got hit by a car.

That was not his normal behavior.

No, because he would be on that porch and see people go by. He would be fine. He was playful when he saw that man because he would see little kids, and he would get excited. We would be walking at 6:30 in the morning when the kids were out there waiting for the bus. They got to know Oreo. They were like, “Here comes Oreo.”

When I called and told you, you came over the next morning. The first thing I wanted to do, I say, “I want to sit on my porch because I need to do it now.” We sat there, drank a cup of coffee, and talked. It is when those times that you lose someone, it is when you need someone. People don’t understand that. Sometimes people want to be left alone. There are times when you need to be insistent that they not be alone. You did that with my nephew, my mom, my dog, and my sister.

When you lose someone, you either want to be left alone or become insistent to be with other people. Share on X

I gave you some more space with your sister. When that happened, I also felt like this impacted you differently. Even though we are friends and I know you, I was like, “She needs time with her family to take this in.” Your other sister came to visit. The kids were there. It hit your family harder. You were getting ready to retire.

There are many different things. The holidays were coming. To try to grasp through every piece of that didn’t seem like a place when everybody was done with that. I knew it was like, “This is where I insert myself.” People have gone back to living their lives. This is where the friends step in and be there because the friends are there longer than the family members unless they live next door. Most of the time, that is the case. How have you seen life differently in these losses in your lifetime?

All of my family members that passed were the same way. They loved life. They loved having fun. They enjoyed it as much as possible and wanted each one of us to enjoy life. It was hard this time with my sister to get into that reality of being able to enjoy life when her life was taken away. However, I feel the time by myself I spent. Thank you for giving me grace and time, not talking to other people, and dealing with my feelings. When I was ready to talk, I knew who I wanted to talk to. I talked to you, and I talked to my girlfriend in Pittsburgh, Tanya. I didn’t talk to my siblings about my feelings until I was ready.

Any journaling or other ways of releasing?

I started journaling when you and I talked because I started having these dreams about my sister. She was there, and we were talking. I wanted to go. We were going to do something. She says, “You can’t go.” I kept saying, “I’m going to go with you.” She wouldn’t let me. I would turn my head, and she would be gone. She told me I couldn’t go with her.

How did that leave you?

Sad because I wanted her to be with me. That is how we were and how we grew up. I was the tag-along. We even dated in the same circle one time. We dated brothers. My other sister, Linda, dated their friend. The three of us would be hanging out on these dates. My two sisters dated cousins because my brother-in-law’s cousin was my other sister’s boyfriend. That is how we grew up.

We did many things together. When our mother had her aneurysm and had brain surgery, I told them, “I’m not going to come until mom’s out of the hospital. You can take care of everything. I’m chill. Let me know what is going on. If there is anything I need to rush there for, let me know. I’m on standby.” They said, “You are fine.” When I did get there, she got out of the hospital.

You are talking about the tag team. They said, “You have night duty with mom.” I said, “Okay, great.” I go in there to sleep with her. They didn’t tell me that she was a nightwalker. I had brought her something the kids had. She loved Tweety bird. There was a little cage with a Tweety bird in it and it was a motion sensor. When you would walk past her, it would say, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat.” It didn’t go off when she went because she was slow. Every time I jump up, it goes, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat.”

It is easy for you and not for your mom. Tweety bird was late.

From then, we started this thing of having tea together.

You have many tea cups. I didn’t know the origin of that.

We would call each other on the phone. We would have tea while we were talking on the phone. Linda was in Pittsburgh. Leslie was in Chicago. I was in Virginia. We would talk on a three-way.

That is how you came up with all the different tea cups.

I started before that because I loved tea. We used to sit and drink tea and coffee together. The origin of it was looking at one of my great aunts. She had a curio cabinet with all these little demitasse cups and saucers. I remember how much I loved them, but I didn’t start collecting them until I moved here to Virginia.

You have quite the collection.

People who know me continue buying them for me. I’m like, “I have no more space.”

You were talking about how to redesign this and how you need to make it look different. You didn’t because in summer, you have them, they are tucked away, and you want to showcase them.

You should see me sometime. I will sit in the dining room and look at them to say, “They are pretty. Look at the color of this one.” It starts to make me think, “My sisters brought me this teapot.” They would buy me the teapots. She brought me a little tea set. One of my favorite colors was lavender. She remembered that. It has lavender flowers on it. There are a lot of great memories to continue with my life. It took a while to remember that it is okay to be happy.

There are a lot of great memories to continue with life. It may take a while to remember that it is okay to be happy. Share on X

Those are some close steps in your family. When my situation happened with Mark, how did you find out about that?

I was coming home from a college event. It was a Saturday. I was in my driveway, sitting back, and saying, “It is good to be home now.” I said, “Hello.” You said, “Don’t say anything. Listen to me.” I said, “Okay.” You told me what had happened with Mark. You were at the hospital, and you didn’t have any more other updates than that. You are waiting for the doctors to let you know. You said, “I can’t talk to anyone else now, but would you contact the ladies?” I said, “Sure.”

I contacted them. I had to text and tell them. I say, “I hate doing this through a text, but this is the fastest way to reach everyone.” They started calling me to ask me questions. I remember talking with Alison. When she called me, she said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m packing up. I’m on all the way there. I’m getting ready to go. I don’t want her to be there without me. I got to go.” They said, “Okay.” As I was driving, I was praying, “God, please let us still be alive.” Marlitha called me. She is the one that told me when Mark had passed, and I was on the road.

It was only by the grace of God and his protection I didn’t have a wreck because I was crying and driving. I was still on the Eastern shore. I had gotten nowhere. I was like, “I got to get there.” That is all I kept saying. When I got there, all I could see was you hurting. You weren’t crying at that point. You were trying to make sure I got the car in because I was there on a base somewhere. You wanted to make sure I got there. You could get me into the room.

We were still in the room where Mark passed. I was impressed with them. We stayed at Delaware Water Gap on the base housing being retired military. When they found out, they moved all of our contents into a different room. When I come back, I’m going to my room. He was like, “You are not. You were going to this room.” Unfortunately, there were a few things they didn’t get. I had to go back into the room to get those. Catherine went back with me, and that was hard. I don’t recall who went with us, but I remember having to go back to the room to pick up something.

Was Kim there by that time?

I have no concept of time. Jeff was there immediately because he was in the hospital with us and his wife, Jen. As far as when you ladies came, I have no concept of the timeline. You said I was hurting. What did that look like?

If you have ever seen anyone in pain and not knowing what to do, that is what it looked like. You stood there. When we closed the door, I put my bags down. I came close to you, and you fell on me. You were crying. We were on the floor. I was holding you while you were crying.

I have no recall of that. The brain will do everything to save you from the love of misery. Did you sleep in the bed with me?

I slept in bed with you. There wasn’t much sleeping because I wanted to be alert and be ready when you needed me. Before we even went to sleep, you had to make some calls. You went into the mode that you do. You were like, “This has to be done. I have to call here.” You said, “Here is Mark’s Social Security number. If they call back, they need his Social Security number.” I said, “Okay. Lay down and relax as much as you can.”

At some point, you had my phone for days. I was like, “I cannot do that.” People were pouring in love. I was grateful when I was able to read the text and see it. At that moment, every text was a reality that he was dead. Every message was, “This has happened.”

It is funny you should say that because it was hard to sink in for me. I could not believe it. Mark was like my brother because you’re like my daughter’s sister. I’m old enough to be your mother, but I’m older than you. I could be your older sister. Mark and I had such a great relationship. It was not real to me.

When did it start getting real?

It was when we went to his apartment here in Virginia.

What was that? Explain what that was about.

He was working here in Virginia. You were still in Pennsylvania. Alison, Vivian, and I had gotten the key from you before we left Pennsylvania after the funeral. We could come, clean up the apartment, and pack everything up.

It was a huge gift because I thought I was going to drive down and do all that or catch a flight. When you got ladies offered to do that, it never dawned on me.

We were in there and walking in. We all stood there for a minute. We said, “How do we want to start this?” We needed to go pick up some things at the store. We needed some bags because not only were we packing up, but we were cleaning and getting it ready. We did all of that. It was like, “Now, it is true.” We were touching his clothes. We were putting them away. We were deciding, “Who can keep this and that in storage until she makes her decision to come here or move somewhere else?” We took care of all of that and packed each other’s cars and everything. I turned in the keys, and that made it real.

That was a weight to take off of me, but still, a weight to carry.

The only thing I knew we were thinking of was you because we loved you so much, and we knew that would be a hard thing to do.

I am grateful. I saw myself trying to get in a car and drive from Pennsylvania to Virginia, knowing I would go to his apartment that he was in the last time by himself. I was like, “That is not going to be safe.” I was going to get a plane ticket because I was like, “This is something I should do.” When you lady said you would do that, I remember the calls back and forth, “Who to donate to bed to?” Somebody was working at a college. There were some students graduating and needing their own place. They took quite a bit of the furniture.

I went over the next day and met her. That was the day I turned the keys in. They came over and picked up the furniture.

What surprised me a year after Mark had died, I was at the point I wanted other people to start telling me their version of him dying, where they were, and how it impacted them because I know I have missed so much. You shared with me something about his clothing.

Mark had two denim shirts. He had his name on them. I know he wore them to work. There were some things, and you said, “You can donate. There are some things I want, and I don’t want.” I said, “Okay.” You have pillows and all different types of things. These two denim shirts I kept, every now and then, I would reach into my closet, pull them to me, and I would smell them. I was like, “That is what I needed.” I felt that need to have that closeness with him at that time.

Over the years, people have been concerned about the person that is grieving and doesn’t want to share their version of that, but when I gave you permission to share your version, it let me know I was not grieving him to that gravity by myself. His death was that impactful. There may be some situations where a loved one may die.

It may not be as impactful, and they may not have friends or a support group. That is why I’m journaling or finding a support group because the weight is heavy. It is important to get somebody to help you along in that process. You may have to seek out to have your needs met, but it is important to recognize that your needs do need meeting.

 

WRT 10 | Power Of Friendship

 

I still have the shirts. I remember one day, I was like, “I’m chilly.” I normally would grab one of my hoodies and put it on. On that day, I wanted to put on his shirt. I put it on and walked around. I felt more comfortable and relaxed. I’m like, “I will keep them forever.” That is something I know I will do. I miss our shopping trips that he and I used to dig.

The man liked to shop like he was a chick. I’m like, “I am not interested in this. I’m sitting on the bench with the dudes, and Mark is shopping. I’m like, “I’m here for the free food. I am not here for the shopping.” His mom taught him well. I was not here for that at all. I remember him, my daughters, and Catherine went to the pottery in Williamsburg, and we had a ball.

An endless opportunity to never leave someplace without one item in your hand. You bought something before you left there.

You ate while you were there.

Ice cream and something else. Is that even open still?

Yes, it has changed. They have done some remodeling. I remember him telling me about him hunting deer and turkey. I was like, “I used to eat deer meat, but I can’t eat it no more because, for some reason, I don’t know. I know it is Bambi.” He would laugh at me and say, “You have to eat it. It hasn’t been fixed if you don’t eat it.”

Disclaimer, we had people to the house and provided them with a meal they assumed was beef. They would say in the conversation, “I would never eat deer meat.” They are going off. Catherine, Mark, Alexander, and I are watching and low-key laughing. After they said it enough, we would be like, “That is deer you are eating right there.” They were like, “Do you want another help?” Deer meat is healthy. When you prepare it right, it doesn’t taste gamey.

That is what he told me. I said, “I will try it sometime.”

It was an educational process for me. That was something, being in a racial marriage. I was outside my comfort zone in different places. I know there are African-American people that hunt, but in my hood, there was not anybody hunting in Chicago. They weren’t trying to save their life. That wasn’t the thing. That was neat to see. I moved here to Virginia. How has the reality of that been?

First, the move. Your sister helps you find a place where you are going to live. The OGs went into action again. We went over to the house. We started unpacking and setting up rooms. I remember Chris and me doing the kitchen. We had so much fun. Vivian and Alison did the bathroom. Kim did the bedroom. We were up and down.

We were having fun and unpacking because the first thing we said was, “First, you need to have a place to sleep when you get in. You need to go take a bath and do whatever you are going to do. Third, your eating spot.” That is what we concentrated on. The only thing we could think was, “We want her to come in and not have to do any of that right away.”

I stayed at Barbara’s on the way down. You guys were like, “What do you need?” I was thinking, “It is going to take forever to unpack boxes, find a bed, and do all the other stuff. They said anything.” I remember calling you guys like, “Where is this? I don’t know where this is. I live here, but where are my clothes? Where is the spoon?”

I knew my way around your kitchen better than you. That was the happy part because now you are coming home to us. We were like, “She is coming home to us. We are all going to be together again.” It was wonderful and exciting. When Ulanka moved into her place, I went over and helped her. Ulanka is her sister. I don’t know if you have met her yet. I went over and helped her do some unpacking at her new place. It was a lot of fun being this close, like sisters.

Friendships have a way of evolving. We never know at the beginning where it is going to take us, but it is worth it. As you have lived life and your experiences, any recommendations for somebody that may be grieving?

My first thing is to let it happen. People tend to hold in their grief sometimes because they don’t want people to see them grieving. Other times, it is because they are not sure they should be still grieving. There is no time limit on grief. Don’t push yourself to do things. I remember when Mark passed, and we were talking about sending out thank you cards to everyone. I said, “Stop. If you don’t do this for the next three months, it is okay.”

 

WRT 10 | Power Of Friendship

 

Those duties you feel like you have to write afterward, “Thank you for coming to my dead husband’s funeral.” I did not want to do that.

Even when it was time to do it, you didn’t do it. Ulanka and I did the labels. We signed the cards because you weren’t there yet. Don’t push yourself. I’m not there yet. I haven’t done it yet for my sister. I purchased the cards weeks ago. I knew I wasn’t ready, and I said, “When I’m ready, I will do it.” This was November 2022 when she passed, and this is now February 2023. I’m not ready. Don’t push yourself. The other thing I would recommend is to find 1 or 2 people you can confide in and say how you feel, even if it is not a family member. I shared with my brother and my sister how I had been feeling. I had a terrible Christmas, and my birthday was worse.

Your birthday is in January. It all came together.

I retired all at the same time. We had Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, and retirement all at once. It was too much for me because I didn’t feel I could still be happy and celebrate when my sister was dead.

You have the right to be happy.

No right at all. I said, “I have no right.” Those are the feelings I shared with you. I shared with my sister Tanya, as I said in Pittsburgh. I told her, and they said, “Both of you felt the same way. Your sister wouldn’t want you to feel this way. It is okay to be happy and continue grieving.”

You can be happy and still be grieving.

In between all of that, I had a new great-granddaughter that was born and was the first grandchild of my daughter and son-in-law. There were excitement and joy. What happens? I wanted to share it with my sister. My other sister, Linda, is a little different. She doesn’t have the same type of excitement and joy. She would be like, “That is nice.” That is what she said when I called her. My other sister would show the excitement I felt. She would be like, “I can’t wait to see pictures.” Let yourself grieve. Let yourself have joy and happiness. Most of all, don’t shut yourself away.

Let yourself grieve. Let yourself have joy and happiness. Don't shut yourself away. Share on X

You mentioned something about letting it out. What are some ways of letting it out?

Some people think you shouldn’t be crying after a funeral. I want to let you know that. I could be in a store and hear a song. I could smell a scent. It brings back memories. I was in the store and put my hand under the soap dispenser. I got the soap and smelled Jergens. I was transported to my childhood home in Pittsburgh. I started smiling because there was so much joy there. I remember my sisters and me using our mom’s Jergens lotion.

Feel those feelings. I did journaling with my sister. She used to tell me, “Write a journal.” My sister was the spiritual advisor. She taught me how to do an intense Bible study. She taught me things to write down about what God had opened up to me in the Word. I remember journaling about when I had a relationship that failed and how I grieved. It was hard because I was like, “I am a perfect girlfriend. Why would you want to get rid of me?” What didn’t work? It wasn’t God’s plan. Journaling is how I found that out.

You brought it back to me again. I was, “I need to write this down. I need to write down how I’m feeling.” I didn’t shut myself away long. There are days I want to be in my room. I don’t want anyone to talk to me that day. It is not because I don’t want to hear anything good about them. I want to be in my feelings. I want to be able to cry if I feel like it. I want to be able to sit there. I talk to my sister. I tell her different things and how much I miss her. You didn’t have to do that, but I’m glad you are no longer in pain.

You have to see from another side when a person has mental issues. They cannot help it. This is not under their control. As a young kid, there were things that our parents back didn’t know that children had mental issues like that. My sister did suffer from depression all of her life, more so in her teenage years than in her younger years. In her younger years, she did have it too.

I would recommend people reach out and find someone to talk to. I have never gone to a support group or a therapist, but I find that talking to other people has been my therapy. That may not work for everyone. They need to find what works for them but don’t sit there and do nothing. I was a dog lover. I had a dog at that time named Trey. He had gotten sick in March. That is when I went to see my dad. I spent two weeks in Pittsburgh visiting my dad. I took pictures.

My dad passed in June, also like my brother. On the seventh was his date. We had the funeral. Believe it or not, the wake was on Father’s Day. The funeral was the next day, which was Monday. I stayed there for a few days, and I went back home. My dog had been sick before I left. He started getting sick when I went to visit my dad for the first time. My dad only saw that dog twice. My dog was sick. I was like, “What is wrong? I don’t know what is wrong. Told me what was going on.” He said, “It is going to cost you $500 every few weeks if you give him the shots, but we don’t know how long it would last.”

Are you telling me you lost your dog and your dad within a short period?

The week after the funeral, the following Monday, I was putting my dog down. June became a month for me, my brother, my father, and my dog that I said I didn’t want. I said, “I can’t wait till June is over.” It was one of the twins who said to me, “You should be happy.” That is when Omari and Michaela were born. Omari is my youngest grandson, and Michaela is my first great-grandchild. They flipped it around for me. Find joy in this time of grief. That was my joy when he said that. I had never thought about it that way. When June comes around, I’m not like that.

 

 

It took opening up to share that to give somebody important to you.

I remember saying to my grandson, “I will be glad when June is over.” I told him why. I started patting myself on the back because I figured it came from me.

On that note, we are going to wrap up this conversation. The words of wisdom and the pearls of knowledge that Jerri has shared with us have been awesome. Thank you so much.

You are welcome. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share.

Thank you for being here with us.

We wrapped up another conversation with one of my friends. Jerri did not hold back. She shared her life experience, her loss personally, and the things she has gone through. She was able to share how my husband’s death impacted her. It is amazing. You can know somebody for so long, and still, in any conversation, you can go, “I didn’t know that. Is that a thing?”

There are many things we can find out about each other. With that, I am sorry for the person you have lost. I am sorry for the grief you are enduring. As you are sticking with us through these conversations, you are now officially part of our hood. You are not alone. We are doing this together. Thanks for being here. I look forward to talking to you soon.

 

Important Links

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide