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In The Time of The Pandemic: Funerals Are For The Living

We at The Band Back Together Project are looking for your stories of what you’re going through in the time of the great pandemic. Please share your stories with us. You can use this to login, or you can send your story to becky@bandbacktogether.com or stacey@bandbacktogether.com.

Please share this around – we are none of us alone; we are all connected. You never know who’s lives you’ll change with your words.

 

Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living.

If we are to believe in the afterlife, we believe that they are already in a better place, A place where the beauty of the flowers, the churches, and the songs pale by comparison. The love they feel far outweighs the love they feel from those in attendance of their comital.

Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living.

If we are to believe that there is no afterlife, then they are already gone. The end. Fin. They will not feel the love, appreciate the flowers, or hear the songs. Those in attendance will tell stories, feel the sweet release of a good cry, and maybe – just maybe – gain some semblance of closure. But those who have died will reap nothing.

Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living. 

Today, we gather to celebrate their contributions to the enrichment of our lives. We are there to comfort each other; to try to make sense of the loss of their light in our world. We fortify ourselves against the pain of their passing with hugs and sweet words of our loved ones, and words of our faiths.

Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living.

My aunt passed away today and amidst the concerns for the containment of CoVID-19, we are not permitted to attend the funeral. We want everyone to be safe.

Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living.

I love you, Aunt Netta, and I will always miss your light.

Love,

Tonya.

 

Unfinished Letter

Mom,

I wrote you a letter in purple pen. I was high again. Relapsed the day before after having 6 months clean, and I knew that you knew I was high the last time I saw you at the Care Center. I felt so guilty because I felt like I was crawling out of my skin to get out of that room.

Not because I didn’t want to see you, but there was nothing to do in there with your hospital bed; you could barely get out of and the TV was constantly running. We talked about how you needed to find a new place to live and how I could live with you again and help you out, writing all these ideas and plans.

A few days later, I helped pack up your apartment, trying to save everything because I knew how much you loved all your knick-knacks and junk. You and I were always the sentimental ones. After going through and packing it all up, putting it into storage, just until you were out of the Care Center.

I should have come to see you. I was literally just down the street. Wouldn’t have taken more than 10 minutes to see you. But I was coming down.

All I could think was lets’s get this done so I can go pick up. I didn’t even stop by or call you that day.

I went to the park after getting my fix and started writing you a letter. Telling you how sorry I was that I wasn’t the best kid, and didn’t always appreciate you, and that I know you did your best with what you could; that I loved you.

The next day I was at work and get a call from grandma.

She tells me that you had a heart attack, and you were gone.

I never finished the letter.

Dose of Happy: Baby Olive’s Mom

If you’ve not heard of Baby Olive’s Mom, please read this post here (there are mentions of baby loss and suicidal ideation), so do be careful with yourself.

I promise, this will make it worth it all:

Dear Becky and The Band,

I am unsure of where to begin.

Reading back on my post, I realize how disturbing it was and that my judgement on that night was wrong.

However i do thank you for the support. This was the first time that i reached to such a low level emotionally and the holiday blues just made it worse for me.

However, it did help so much seeing all my loved ones again during the holiday season because my work is of such nature that it requires me to be away from home for long periods at a time. There are currently no construction / mining projects with open positions close to home and our project has a lot of shift changes according to project scope changes.

Due to that, i have isolated myself for a few years not realizing the emotional damage i caused.

However after my post and reconnecting with my friends at home during the holidays i realized that there is so much beauty in healing too.

When i came back i also started being more social and involved in charity events, small talk to fellow neighbors and joining the church again – which I have not done the past couple of years.

The blog made me realize that it is important to realize your weaknesses and pain to be able to adjust your lifestyle more for improved mental health and to help you heal and use the life experiences you went through to help others in need  – even though it might not be directly linked to your own pain.

Since i started healing from my pain, i have grown to be such a better and kinder person and although it has only been just over a month i am exited for my life ahead and it feels full of purpose again.

I still miss her so much, but using the pain to help other people in need has changed the experience from a dead end to a positive life choice – without the requiring of medication or seeing a therapist.

I really thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

And again i really apologize for my post; it was an emotional breakdown of all the hurt of the divorce and her loss that has just smothered me that night, but i am certain that i will never reached that point again.

I have also posted the following to just say thank you for the responses and prayers although I only read it now it has really helped so much and forever!

i can assist your team on helping other women in similar situations or completely other situations i would love to.

Reaching out has helped a lot and i also reached out to a family member.

I am glad that i pulled myself out mentally and i feel like a different person.

I also started by helping others where i can (e.g registering for bone marrow donation and donating blood ). It gives me another reason to hold on as well as spending more time with my two daughters has also cleared my min. This made me realize it is okay to break down for a minute – but it is not okay to leave them behind without a mother.

This blog has also helped me realize that there is so much people with the same pain and that it is okay to open up and that there is support without judgement.

i thank each and every person that shared their concern and opened up about similar heartache it really does make my burden more bearable.

rocks with the word grateful

And another AWESOME update:

As a women in the construction industry and a single mom, I do come across as a very strong and independent women and if my thoughts were shared with my family and friends, I would totally feel ashamed and isolated again, however after sharing my thoughts with you a lot has changed before i even read your posts, but i do feel that your page has saved my life and turned it around completely and here is why…..

I felt a sense of relief that i could open up about my loss for the first time without the judgement of close friends, family, and collages in my personal life so i finally had a go-to safe haven place to deal with my grief. After i wrote my letter, i felt compelled to read other stories on your page (witch made me realize I am not alone with this loss & if they can survive it, I can too).

Then i felt somewhat better and thought hey how can be proactive? have nothing more to lose how about i just check the self help links?

So i did and i realized there is hope. I gathered some tips and gave it a try and I am so amazed by the results.

I don’t only feel better but i actually truly feel like the strong women that i pretended to be for three years.

You may share as much about my letter as you feel comfortable doing as long as i stay completely anonymous, simply for the fact that i would hate to be judged by anyone close to me as i still find myself to be fragile sometimes (not in a suicidal way, more like “i want to eat that whole slab chocolate and cry for a while” kind of way ) but i not ready yet for such a setback.

hence, I have reached out to you.

You are so sincere in your posts and your page is amazing and i believe you have saved my life that night and i can not thank you enough for that.

You gave me a place to go to with all my overwhelmed emotions when i needed it the absolute most.

It was so inspiring that i decided to give back in a way.

I am not a very good writer but I thought hey everyone struggling is in need of something so i started donating blood and registering at SABMR to give back as my general health is at a stronger stage than my writing.

Your are the best.

All my love,

Baby Olive’s Mom

If you are feeling alone, scared, helpless, and suicidal, please contact the National (US) Suicide Lifeline, which provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255.

AT THIS TIME, THE SUICIDE HOTLINE CODE 988 IS NOT ACTIVE. 

If you are not in the US, I have created a list of international suicide lifelines, which can be found here

(apologies for the sporadic posts – we’re getting our ducks in a row)

Ask the Band: Grieving After Abuse

Dear The Band,

I was sexually abused as a child from age 5 to 8 by my babysitter’s son who was 10 yrs older than me.

I didn’t tell anyone until I was 10 and blocked the bulk of it out until college.

I just found out that the babysitter passed away earlier this week.

I don’t feel anything about her passing

I am sorry for her daughter and all of her grandkids. But there’s really nothing there.

Am I wrong for feeling like this?

Wednesday: Baby Olive van der Lingen

What you may or may not read below is something that you should be warned about. While not particularly graphic, the post contains strong themes such as child loss, stillbirth, baby loss, and suicide. If you feel that you cannot handle any of those triggers, please click here to be taken away to a world of glittery whimsy. Don’t feel as though you should read this if you’re not ready or if you’re never ready. Part of being healthy is being able to stop yourself if you’re uncomfortable with the following post. 

I need you to know that this is a first for our site and that I left it alone for a long time because I didn’t want to do more harm than good. Finally, it dawned on me that this anonymous poster (who I simply cannot locate – I tried) gave us her deepest feelings and fears. Even if I am uncomfortable (and I am), these are her sacred words, and they deserve to see the light of day. You’re very welcome to reach out to me via email: becky@bandbacktogether.com

This site has a motto, a simple one: we are none of us alone, we are all connected. 

We take stories here – all of them – and this is no different. 

These are her sacred words that she wanted me to share with you. 

And so I am.

If you are feeling alone, scared, helpless, and suicidal, please contact the National (US) Suicide Lifeline, which provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255.

AT THIS TIME, THE SUICIDE HOTLINE CODE 988 IS NOT ACTIVE. 

If you are not in the US, I have created a list of international suicide lifelines, which can be found here.

Baby Olive ✝️ July 2016

I was around 7 months pregnant when I lost my baby girl.

…I do not know how to cope with her loss anymore, i never really opened up about the pain and grief and the more time goes on the worse it gets.

I feel guilty and out of line when i speak about her on any other day except for her birthday… this year I could not even speak to anyone about her.

I don’t even understand what I must feel and what the normal grieving process is. Some nights even feel worse than the nights I lost her.

I had this idea that i would be over it by now or that I would not think about her so much.

I thought time would make it all better…..

tonight is one of the worse nights I’ve had. I just started missing her more than ever and then I felt like my heart is shattered all over again.

i can barely breathe from the crying, I feel the pain in my throat. My heart feels like it is being ripped out right now.

The image of her little lifeless body in front of me is stuck inside my head. She just looked like she was sleeping.

I just needed her her to breathe.

I just needed her to breathe.

Why did she die???

Why did she have to die?

I can’t explain this pain.

I don’t think anyone will understand what I feel right now. If I ever had to talk to anyone about this pain, what would they think? I just can’t talk to anyone! I will just be a burden or they will think I am seeking attention; that is mostly the case when i bring her name up to my ex-husband. I didn’t mean to blame him for not being able to save her, all the build up hurt just got the best of me. The grief turned into hate, hate towards people that do not deserve it, it made me push them away.

i just feel like screaming now!

Sometimes I wonder if I will feel better if I could talk about her, sometimes I wonder if it will ever get better….

Will I ever get closure?

i do not think i will male it through this pain…

i smile the whole day so no one even notices how broken I am. Once I am alone, I break down.

It is like a black hole that just gets bigger…

The pain consumes more of me each day.

Suicide is no longer just a thought, it is a pat of my plan, it is a matter of fact.

I am not scared anymore to go

I am so sorry for what i leave behind; the people I love that I leave behind. They don’t deserve it, my kids, my family, and my friends don’t deserve it… they have done nothing wrong.

i Just cannot go on , i have died inside a long time ago. Who i am now is just a body that is on repeat and that is not life. Feeling so numb and hurting this much is unbearable.

I hope the ones i leave behind will try and understand. On the brighter side at least my ex-husband will be happy.

I just want to go home, I want to be in heaven , I want to rest with my baby Olive.

I don’t belong here anymore.

After her loss, I tried my best to be happy, but I’ve never been happy again since she has died. I mastered the art of pretending to be happy at least , but I just can’t feel it. Funny how i even have the nickname “Smiley”… lol

If there was a person i’d have been able to open up about her, it would have been her father, but because of the ways in which i brought her up in our fights, he doesn’t want to hear anything about her.

I guess I cant blame him; it is my own fault … I never had a guideline or a manual on how to deal with the mixed emotions and thoughts her death caused.

I kept quiet about so many feelings that I should have shared and I lashed out about so many thoughts I should have kept to myself.

Anyway, it is to late late for the “should have’s” and “what if’s” and “if only i hads.”

Nothing will bring her back and nothing will change this pain. All this hurt killed me inside.

I didn’t die that long after she died; now it’s just my body that is left behind wondering around, longing to go, waiting impatiently to go.

Yes, I do think my death will be a shock to everyone in my life including my boyfriend ( which is the most amazing guy on earth). Some people don’t even know about Baby Olive, so most people that are the closest to me wont even link my death with hers.

The truth is i that just want to go. I feel so numb to their opinion about why I left – it won’t even matter. There won’t be a note it a sign before if I go, I will just go.

i guess the only reason i am still here is to finalize a few things before I go. I want my departure to be easy for those I leave behind, I want to be quickly forgotten. I don’t want anyone to hurt or feel guilty. My wish is to make it seem like an accident.

I am not even sure whyIi wrote this. If i ever had to say i am sorry, i will say sorry to her father for the anger and the blame and the hurt. I would have apologized for the person i was, I am sorry for my actions and how they affected you. I am sorry for being so controlling and crazy over you. I just never loved the way  I loved my husband and I’ve never hurt like the day i lost her.

I am not good at handling those strong emotions –  it just comes out wrong and I am sorry. Sorry will never fix anything and even if I had the chance to say sorry now, I know it won’t matter.

It has been 3 years.

I don’t even think you will remember. I know that you are happy now, I know you love her more than me, I know she is so much better and prettier than me, and that is good.

I will not bother to disturb anyone.

Whatever is left unsaid will forever be…

i guess writing this gave me some peace before I go, even if it will never be read or understood. Even if those i leave behind will never know that I got some peace before i go.

i feel so much better to knowIi can finally go. I feel it’s so selfish, yet I am no longer living even if i stay.

I will give my family my very best to make sure they know how much i love them and how much i appreciate them.

They are the best; that’s why i want to go without them considering suicide.

While everyone starts off with a new year, I just wish to start of with my eternal life without this pain and hurt.

i guess I am hoping to meet her there too … most nights, the thought of meeting her soon helps me to fall asleep.

I don’t know what I was supposed to feel or how, how to soothe this pain, but I do know i want to end it.

and i will.

I guess that’s just where my story ends.

my book of life has been completed and i guess not every story gets that happy ending.

I leave to see you breath, my angel.

In memory of my baby girl,

Olive van der Lingen