What Death Taught Me

get-gutsy-podcast-interviews-What-Death-Taught-Me

Death.

Curiosity led me to the dictionary to see the official definition …

the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism.

These words feel so final.

So firm.

So “end of story.”

And yet for me, death is where the story truly begins anew.

Where one chapter certainly ends, but another one begins. This next chapter is typically filled with grief disguised as coping behaviors ranging from moderately healthy to downright destructive.

I know this to be very true.

“Jenny, why all the talk about death?” you may be asking.

I’ll tell you why … today is the 23rd anniversary of my sister Julie’s passing.

She was 12 years old when she died from brain cancer.

jennyandjulieoncouch

I was 16.

It was brutal.

Her short life and relatively short illness (around 13 months) changed my entire world and worldview.

While I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of what this meant at that moment in time, the last 23 years have brought with them plenty of time and space to wrestle with the questions … and to connect deeply with angelic and spiritual realms.

One thing I’ve learned about death is that anniversaries bring stuff to the surface.

When this happens to you, don’t be freaked out.

It’s normal.

Since Julie’s death on February 27, 1994, every February since has brought with it some very interesting energy.

It’s hard to exactly describe the vibe of February, but I’ll simply say: it teaches me something every time.

Memories from her final days come flooding back.

Julie towards the end

I have vivid dreams.

I tend to want to sleep more.

I’m more emotional and prone to “all or nothing” feelings.

I book a trip or a training or buy something big that we need (or all of the above).

I make decisions.

I make moves.

I see the bigger picture.

My vision becomes more clear.

I’m grateful that her death doesn’t trigger me anymore. I’m grateful that I’ve released the guilt and the shame and anger.

I carried that stuff for 2 decades until I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I had to let go.

For my sanity.

And my family.

And my future.

EMDR work with my therapist helped immensely.

So did baring my soul in my book and writing a very detailed memoir-style account about my sister’s last day in her body (straight up, Chapter 3 wrecked me when I wrote it).

What I now know to be true when it comes to pain, especially related to death and grief …

You’ve got to feel it to heal it.

Babe, do NOT be afraid to feel things. Good things. Hard things. Amazing things. Shitty things. Confusing things.

Feeling your feelings is a gift.

Feeling your feelings can also be fucking terrifying!

Much of the world is absolutely freaked out by their feelings. So they numb out with alcohol or drugs or work or the internet or TV or sex or shopping or food or non-stop noise.

The goal: Comfortably numb.

But numb isn’t comfortable.

Numb is a cop out.

Numb is an escape.

What I’ve learned: You can’t bypass grief.

It will come and get you because it has something to teach you.

Trust the waves of grief, and grief will transform you.

The grief will move through you and crack you open in ways that let the let shine through.

Do not be afraid.

This is what happened to me.

I ran, ran, ran, ran so damn hard for so many years from the grief and shame and anger about Julie.

I managed to finish high school and go away to college although I really wanted to stay home and go to our community college. I wanted to continue being the big fish in the small pond but my mom wouldn’t let me. I’ll always be grateful to her for that. I could have gotten really stuck if I would have stayed.

I numbed out in college and still managed to graduate summa cum laude and land my dream job in New York City.

I partied my ass off in my 20s while working my ass off only to realize that I was working in the wrong career and had to start over again.

How did I know?

Because I stopped and got quiet.

It was when I got quiet and asked myself what I was doing that I got the answer … from none other than my sister Julie.

She had been guiding me all along but I often would forget. I’d lose her. I’d lose the connection to her amidst the noise and the running and the climbing the ladder.

I’d forget why I was here … because I was too consumed by the fact that she wasn’t.

Until I remembered that she was still here. She is still here. She’s here.

She’s always been here.

The more I’ve embraced this, the more my life expands beyond my wildest dreams.

My business evolves and shape shifts and attracts in the most amazing people I get to teach and coach and serve.

And Julie’s with me every step of the way.

She gives me names of programs. (Julie literally whispered the name of my mastermind GLOW when I was in the midst of launching it a few years ago.)

She comes with me on my retreats all over the world.

Helps me deal with the stuff I don’t want to deal with.

She stays in the room with me.

She believes in me, still.

She was always my biggest fan. Still is.

It is Julie, as well as the spirits of my best friend Sonda Deskins and her brother Mark Deskins, that allow me to walk in faith.

I was dealt 3 deaths in 3 years – at 16, 17 and 19 years old. You better believe these deaths have shaped me.

Humbled me.

Haunted me.

Humored me.

Given me perspective that most don’t have.

Julie.

Mark.

Sonda.

1.

2.

3.

They all died young.

None of us were ready.

And yet here we are.

These brave souls are my Spirit Guides.

The ones who remind me to live well. And to be ALIVE while I am in fact alive.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” – Benjamin Franklin

To honor the call of my soul.

To be a non-conformist.

To zig when others zag.

To go on awesome vacations with my family.

To go to India for my 40th birthday.

To bring something to the surface now that I wasn’t planning on … but am surrendering into anyway.

To care deeply.

And to not care at all.

To surrender … and surrender some more.

To embrace that done is better than perfect. (Come to my free training on this very topic!)

And to care about the opinions of a very, very small number of people.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins
And to scare myself, regularly.
Push myself to the limit to see what I’m made of.
And to surround myself with others who embrace this energy too.
Because I don’t have time for bullshit or excuses or reasons why something won’t work.
I’m not interested in hanging out with flakes or fakers or quitters or people unwilling to deal with their shit.
“Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Because death has taught me that it comes without asking permission. It comes without fairness. It comes slowly and swiftly and quickly and messily and perfectly and tragically.

It comes.
Leaving a lot of unfinished business in its wake.
The ultimate mystery we are all living with is WHEN WILL WE DIE?
The question I encourage you to ask yourself >> what will you do between now and the time of your death?
What do you want to see?
What do you want to create?
What changes will you make?
How will you love?
Who will you love?
Where will you go?
What will you do?
Who will you be?
When will you stop waiting?

My work is dedicated to helping you live truthfully … so that when you die, you will die happy. And you will die free.

And the world will rejoice that you were alive … and you mattered because you helped others feel that they mattered too.

This is it.
This is what it’s all about.
Life, death and what comes between.
This is Jenny Fenig sending you so much love, light + faith as you Get Gutsy. I’ll see you next time.
Signature xoxo Jenny

P.S. This very concept of DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT will change your life forever.

My upcoming free training is custom made for you.
Done Is Better

It Could Have Been Me …

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It could have happened …

It could have been me and not her. It could have been me who got sick at dad’s house in Georgia over Christmas and not been able to get on the airplane to fly home to Florida.

It could have been me who was poked and prodded and analyzed and told by doctors that they didn’t know why I was sick and maybe it was ulcers and maybe it was purely psychological and all in my head.

It could have been me who was told a tumor was found in my brain.

It could have been me who had my skull cut open to have a tumor removed from my brain.

It could have been me who had a plastic shell made for the outside of my head so I could be eased into the radiation machine at Shands Hospital.

It could have been me who had to miss weeks of 6th grade due to my treatment in Gainesville, Florida.

It could have been me staying at the Ronald McDonald House with the other sick kids and their families.

It could have been me who had a pen pal with a serious illness who lived while I died.

It could have been me who got better and beat cancer only to learn a few months later that it was back with a vengeance, this time on my brain stem and spine.

It could have been me who couldn’t keep my balance on my bike because of the tumors.

It could have been me who ate shark cartilage and went through the hell that is chemotherapy.

It could have been me who lost my hair.

It could have been me who had a surprise Valentine’s Day party in my 7th grade class a few weeks before I died.

It could have been me who had seizures.

It could have been me who felt like I had to go to the bathroom all the time and whose face got puffy and broken out because of the steroids.

It could have been me.

It could have been me who had the fucking disease called CANCER.

Julie towards the end

It could have been me who found God and asked for my Last Rites to be given as I sat in my hospital bed, praying and dying.

It could have been me saying goodbye to my healthy sister Julie and parents and family.

It could have been me writing her poem instead of my poem.

It could have been me dying at 12 years, 10 months, 7 days.

BUT. IT. WASN’T.

It was her. It was Julie.

It was her path … and this is mine.

For so many lost, grief-fueled years, I didn’t know why.

That energy healing and channeling session with Lisa Hines and writing and publishing my book have given me the answers.

21 years after Julie took her last breath, I have clarity.

My work is here.

Julie’s work is there.

We emitted so much ENERGY between us that we needed to split and divide and conquer.

Divide and conquer.

Divvy up and heal.

Do the work.

Share the message.

Heal the hearts.

Rise the tides.

Shine the light.

Sisters on a mission.

SISTERS NEVER DIE.

sisters doing hair

 

Your Story Will Change Lives: Marking the 20th Anniversary of the Hardest Loss I’ve Ever Endured

your story will change lives

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the hardest loss I’ve ever endured: the death of my younger sister Julie.

It’s hard to fathom that much time has passed, but the calendar tells me it has.

Julie died from cancer on February 27, 1994. She was 12. I was 16.

My road to recovery has been long and twisted and messy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and thank her for blessing me with her presence.

I’m a better woman because I had Julie as a sister.

This loss has marked my life in just about every way.

It’s why I live my life the way I do.

It’s why I run my business the way I do.

It’s why I parent and love and lead the way I do.

It’s shaped my path, my outlook, my heart.

It’s a pivotal moment in my story.

I set out on a journey last year to tell my story in the form of a book.

My sister Julie and I enjoying the beach as kids.

My sister Julie and I enjoying the beach as kids.

The death of Julie was just one of the many pieces of my journey and what I’ve learned, but it’s an important moment no doubt.

My book will be published later this year and it’s no coincidence that it’s coming out 20 years after I was dealt the biggest blow of my life.

I’m honored to get it into the hands of women who are ready to see their stories as the message they are here to share to help heal the planet.

Know this: your story will change lives. Have the courage to share it.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that gives you a sense of what it was like to experience the loss of my younger sister.

I hope by me having the guts to share, you’ll be brave enough to share YOUR story, your pain, your victories, your lessons learned.

This is what’s called the Hero’s Journey. You’re on it right now.

Just getting this memory down on paper, reliving it so I could release it, has been one of the most cleansing and healing experiences of my life.

I wish the same for you.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share. It means the world to me.

**************************************************************************

Excerpt from Chapter 3: WHY

What’s that?

Mom’s groggy, shattered voice is what I pick up next.

“She is? Damnation. I’m coming. I’m coming.”

“Mom? What happened?” I ask.

“Julie’s gone. That was Nurse Patillo. She said Julie went peacefully. The family is gathering at her bedside to say goodbye. Do you want to come?”

I let out a groan, needing to release something.

Then I mutter, “no.”

I know I should go and see Julie’s dead body in her hospital bed, but I cannot move. I can’t bear to see her like that. I’ve never seen a dead body before and I don’t want to see my sister not breathing, looking like she’s sleeping when actually she’s fucking dead. I can’t. I don’t know how to be around all these adults who have been through death before and will try to comfort me when all they will do is make it worse because they will make it more real.

I can’t and I won’t.

Plus, my body is begging me for sleep, trying to make up for last night’s lack of sleep after my drunken clubbing escapade.

“Okay, Jennifer, you sleep and I’ll go,” mom says as she starts to rustle around in the dark to put on her outfit from yesterday.

I pull the covers over my head tight and curl up in a fetal position.

Mom turns on the bathroom light to brush her blonde hair, put on her pink shiny lipstick (she always wears pink shiny lipstick) and get herself semi-presentable to go see her dead daughter in the hospital.

When I wake up a few hours later, I’m freezing. Goosebumps cover my skin even though the covers are fully over me in my soft motel bed.

The hangover is still working its way out of my body. It’s as if my body has requested space for a new feeling to live inside of me: DEATH. The death of my sister.

I’m cold and I’m suffocating. I gasp for air and look over in the dark towards mom’s bed. She looks like a big lump under the covers.

What am I supposed to do now?

Take a shower? Get dressed in the outfit I threw in my overnight bag? Eat something?

No action seems worthy of this moment. Everything feels pointless.

There is a gaping, cavernous hole in my chest. I know this feeling because I’ve had holes in my chest before.

Like when mom and dad separated and dad told me he was moving out and I pretended that I wasn’t sad because I knew I was supposed to be strong and not cry.

Or when mom, Julie and I moved from Georgia to Florida and had to say goodbye to dad before I got into the moving van with my new stepdad who I hated.

Or when boyfriends would break up with me or stop calling me.

Or when the senior girls egged my townhouse because they didn’t like me.

Or when I learned that Julie had this disease called cancer and it was going to take over our life.

I’m alone, abandoned by the one person who understood me and accepted me for me. Why did she leave me? Everyone leaves me. I’m unlovable.

I rub my hands over my skin to try to claw off this layer of misery that is engulfing me.

Nausea bubbles up in my stomach. Oh shit. I’m gonna puke.

I throw off the covers and run to the bathroom and close the door so I don’t wake mom. My body heaves and I pick up the toilet cover and throw up violently into the water, tears flowing out of my eyes. Shaking and balling, I do my best to steady myself with my hands on either side of the toilet and my knees touching the tile of the bathroom. My throw-up is red from Julie’s uneaten Jell-O that I scarfed down.

Taking a deep breath, I strip off my emerald green turtleneck sweater, black bra, Gap bootleg jeans and thong panties and get into the shower. The water is scalding hot and I like it because I can feel something other than my heart being ripped out.

It’s Sunday morning.

As the hot water beats down on my skin, I resolve to do the only thing I know to do: go to New Smyrna Beach High School tomorrow acting like nothing has changed.

People are depending on me to perform. I have responsibilities: to be an A student, to cheer for our basketball team, to edit the yearbook, to look pretty, to show up at all the parties and to be happy. I can’t disappoint. I can’t fall behind. I can’t be left out of everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I have to appear perfect even though I’m far from it.

Must. Keep. Going.

The drain in the shower is clogged and the water is up to my ankles like I’m in walking in the shallow part of the ocean back home.

My thoughts are like popcorn, bouncing up and down in my brain as I try to keep up and follow them.

A voice inside of me speaks:

“You’re still here for a reason.”

Whaaaaatttttt?

What the hell is going on? What reason could possibly be the reason for me being here and my baby sister Julie being dead?

A chill goes up my spine as the anger gets all hot and prickly underneath my skin.

I don’t care if Julie was a real God lover and believer, I’m pissed at God right now and want to let Him know. How could he let this happen to her? Isn’t he in charge? Doesn’t he call all the shots?

I tell him what’s on my mind.

“God, if you are out there, can you tell me what I’m supposed to do now that you took my sister from me? Tell me! This makes no sense. None. You took the wrong girl.”

The words angrily flow out of my mouth as the water drips from my body in buckets. I prop myself up with my arm on the yellow tiled wall as I take a series of short, shallow breaths.

I wait.

“I repeat. What am I supposed to do now?”

The Voice comes again: “Tell your story. Share your pain. This is the work you are here to do. This is your mission, your why. Julie will help you.”

I stand there, stunned.

Naked.

Cracked open.

****************************************************************************************

To my sister Julie, for being a beacon of light and love everyday of my life. May you watch over the courageous women who choose to be visible, vulnerable and victorious as they find and live their soul’s calling … and tell their story.

My sister and our cat Puff.

My sister and our cat Puff.

19 Years Later and the Pain is Still Raw: Memories of My Sister

I still remember that day as if it were yesterday.

She was lying in her hospital bed, her face puffy from all of the steroids she was taking to manage the pain in her body.

Tube in her mouth, needle in her arm.

The name on her hospital band read: Julie Amon.

Birthdate: 4/20/81

Julie was my 12-year-old sister and she was dying from cancer.

It was Saturday, February 26, 1994.

I was 16 … and not only was I wrapping my head around the fact that my sister was in her last moments in her body, but I was also suffering one of the biggest hangovers of my young life. I had gone out the night before to Daytona Beach to a club and proceeded to drink way too much, black out and not come home that night.

My parents had to track me down at a friend’s house. Pre-cell phone days. This wasn’t easy and they weren’t happy.

I felt terrible during the entire 2-hour drive from New Smyrna Beach to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., where my sister had been airlifted to the night before.

My entire family had congregated in the hospital to band together in our grief that the unthinkable was going to happen.

I was in a state of shock.

Denial was easier for me to deal with than the acceptance that my sister was really sick. I mean, how many other 12-year-olds do you know who get cancer and freakin’ die? I didn’t know any so in my mind that meant that she would get better.

Plus, I had been too busy living my 16-year-old life as a cheerleader, yearbook editor, top student leader and party girl to have time for something like this. It just didn’t make any sense to me.

And I didn’t really have anyone explaining it to me …

My dad lived 1000 miles away in Atlanta. This was before free long distance so we spoke about once a week. I got my “everything’s gonna be okay” gene from him. He too didn’t want to believe she was going to die.

My mom, on the other hand, had become Julie’s full-time caregiver. She took her to doctor visits, her brain surgery, radiation, and eventually chemotherapy.  She helped her get fitted for a wig and helped her identify her wish (a new bedroom set) for Make-a-Wish Foundation. She stayed with her for a week at a time at the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital during her radiation treatment that lasted many months.

During Julie’s treatment, I stayed home (by myself) and went to school and my activities. I didn’t want to “miss” anything and fall behind. That was a scary concept to me. My identity was very wrapped up in being at the top, being the best.

I did go with my mom and sister one time during her treatment (maybe it was during my Spring Break?). I remember Julie looking so brave as a hard plastic covering was put around her head as she lay down on a giant movable bed that eased her into the radiation machine that would blast radiation into the part of her brain that had the cancer.

Even now as I write about it 19 years later, it seems surreal, like this didn’t all happen. But it did. Oh, it did.

So there we are on this fucked up February day, my mom, dad, aunts and uncles and me, all congregating around Julie hospital bed while she shows us what grace looks like.

Julie told us what she wanted. When the doctors said we could do this or that procedure or give her this or that drug, she simply said: enough.

“I just want to go to sleep.”

That’s what she said.

She had been poked and prodded and drugged and tested for 13 months. Her quality of life was essentially non-existent. She couldn’t walk anymore. She always felt like she had to pee (even when she didn’t). The steroids had done a number on her face. She was having seizures. She had a hard time speaking.

She had given it her best shot.

She was ready to cross over.

We could see it.

She could see it.

She wasn’t afraid.

She was full of faith.

At that point of “no return” in the hospital, she asked for her last rites to be read (I had never heard of this ritual before).

Julie was very religious. I wasn’t.

When the priest came in the room, Julie pulled her frail body up and put her hands together and prayed.

It was one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things I’ll ever see in my life.

At that point, she was “complete.”

For the life of me, I can’t remember what I said to her on that day, in that room, while she lay there. I wish I could. God, I wish I could.

I think I held her hand and touched her skin and petted what little hair she had remaining. I think I did this. I hope I did.

I remember watching the EKG machine with my aunt that day, watching Julie’s heart rate going up and down, up and down. When it would go too low, we’d get nervous and then Julie’s strength would take over and her heartbeat would stabilize again.

No one wanted to leave the hospital to sleep, but it was getting late and we were all exhausted.

My Aunt Karin volunteered to stay by her side while we all went to sleep.

My mom and I shared a hotel room.

We both fell asleep quickly only to be awakened by the phone ringing in the middle of the night with the news:

She was gone.

My sister had died.

My mom asked if I wanted to go back to the hospital to say goodbye, but I just couldn’t.

It hurt too much. Plus, I was still hungover from my Friday night escapade.

My little sister wasn’t coming home with us this time.

It was so weird.

With all the personal growth and therapy work I’ve done through the years you’d think I could say that it’s not weird anymore, but I can’t say that. It’s still really really weird.

But the weirdness has become an old familiar friend. I’m not weirded out by the weirdness.

Does that make sense?

So, as I write this on the 19th anniversary of Julie’s passing with tears streaming down my face, I can honestly say this:

Life is beautiful … and short … and not always “fair.”

Not a day goes by where I don’t think of her … and THANK HER for what she taught me about grace and bravery and faith.

I thank her for looking out for me and my family (we have crazy good luck).

I thank her for forgiving me for not being there for her more when she was sick.

I thank her for being my sister.

I thank her for the memories.

I thank her.

Scrapbook page with memories of Julie. My nickname for her was Totsy.

Scrapbook page with memories of Julie. My nickname for her was Totsy.

 So … if you wonder what gives me my perspective, my drive, my ambition …

If you wonder how I could drive from Florida to New York City in a U-Haul by myself as a 22-year-old college grad with only a couch to crash on when I arrived …

If you wonder how I could pull off a month-long vacation to Asia with my husband (while still employed full-time) …

If you wonder how I could quit my 6-figure corporate job in New York City without another job or a clue about what I’d do next …

If you wonder how I could want to birth my first son naturally without paid meds (I made that vision real) …

If you wonder how I could move my family from the bright lights and non-stop action of New York City to the chilled out country of Western Massachusetts …

If you wonder how I can march to the beat of my own drummer, saying no to things that zap my energy and yes to things that make me come alive …

… then perhaps this story about my beautiful sister Julie will shed some light on who I am and why I’m here.

My sister's poem she wrote during her battle with cancer.

My sister’s poem she wrote during her battle with cancer.

It took me many years to accept that I am in fact the sister who was still living and I had a purpose to fulfill. Now that I have stepped into this, I feel more at peace than I ever have.

Thought you might enjoy this poem I wrote for her a few weeks after her passing. I read it during my high school pageant (ended up winning the title of Miss New Smyrna Beach High School as a result. I still get a kick out of that):

MISS SUNSHINE

I woke up one day…not to sunshine, but to night

It seemed to be a symbol of the end of the fight.

Why did Miss Sunshine have to go away?

I don’t understand why she could not stay.

My sunshine was so beautiful with all of her rays,

She seemed perfect in every little way.

She lit up my life in more ways than one,

Oh how I adored that warm, loving sun.

My sunshine left me without a trace,

Now all I have are the tears that adorn my face.

There is no one to dry them because there is no light,

It’s so unfair that my sunshine was deprived of a long, prosperous life.

I hate myself for being afraid,

I thought from my sunshine I would not be able to break away.

I coated my soul with sunscreen and oils,

So I could be sure my heart would not be toiled.

I was scared of getting too close to the flame,

Now I know I am the one to blame.

I should have known that the only thin to fear is fear itself,

To Miss Sunshine I was of no help.

I complained because she made me sweat,

Her strength and composure I will never forget.

She refused to let the moon creep through,

She dreaded darkness like me and you.

She struggled to keep her light shinning bright,

How extremely brave she was to put up a fight.

I stuck by my sunshine till the darkness had to be,

Oh, how sad a sight it was to see.

I saw a beautiful wonder fade away,

Now the time was night and not day.

I cried and cried till my tears were dry,

And then I let out a reliving sigh.

I realized that the sun would still shine,

But it’s a different sun…definitely not mine.

It’s not as warm, true, or sweet,

But its responsibilities it will surely meet.

I woke up today and that’s good enough for me,

I did not look outside to see.

If it was dark or sunny I did not care,

Because the smile on my face was too much to bear.

I know my sunshine is smiling down on me,

So I will wear one too, for all to see.

On February 27th my sunshine earned her wings,

She is the angel that I hear sing.

I know she is in a better place,

But her warm, bright memory shall never be erased.

My sister and our cat Puff.

My sister and our cat Puff.

Thanks Julie. Miss you and love you.

And thank YOU for reading, caring and simply being there at the other end of the computer screen. I appreciate YOU and send you so much LOVE on your journey to live your absolute best life.

Go for it.

Dealing with Tragedy: Processing Your Feelings From the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

How are you? As a mother and human being, it is hard to find words to express my sadness over the recent shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. My heart breaks.

When this happened on Friday, I was a few towns away from the tragedy after having spent time with my coaches and fellow business owners for a wonderful day of strategizing, celebrating and sharing ideas in Stamford. And then, the terrible news came through as I was working in my hotel.

I could hardly believe it.

I felt the collective grief and disbelief of the entire state of Connecticut as I drove a few hours to get home to my kids and husband.

When I saw their sweet faces, I hugged my children so tight and cried inside hoping that they would never have to experience something so senseless and heartbreaking.

My heart aches for the babies who crossed over yesterday and the parents who will not be able to hold them (in body) anymore.

My heart aches for the teachers who died protecting their students all the way until the end.

My heart aches for the survivors who had to hear sounds, feel feelings and see things that they never should have had to experience.

My heart aches for the shooter who must have had so much angst and sadness inside to have been able to commit such a violent act. My heart aches for the shooter’s family.

My heart aches for Newtown, CT as they must heal from the unthinkable.

My heart aches.

May we all shower love, light and prayer on the departed souls and those who are among the living and will need our help to soldier on, process their pain and find some semblance of peace in their hearts.

My hope for you today is that you simply appreciate the time that you have here. In all honesty, we never really know when our time on earth will end … or when the time of our family members will come to an end. We just don’t.

Let’s be good to each other. Let’s practice compassion and forgiveness. And tap into our faith even when our faith gets rocked. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below. Let’s heal together.