Curiosity led me to the dictionary to see the official definition …
These words feel so final.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Given me perspective that most don’t have.
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
“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.
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.