Our grief comes is waves, like the ocean, hitting the sand in varying degrees of harshness and softer as the last of the wave’s foamy white water hits the edge showing the tide is over. Grief hits us like a wave, sometimes soft, sometimes loud, perhaps out of the blue, often at a family gathering, and harsh on the anniversaries, birthdays, milestones, and the lists goes on. Year to year, day to day, hour to hour, even minute to minute the sound is different.
I am experiencing a new level of my grief journey and how to process the emotions dormant for years, still unable to have the time for me to sort out where I go from here, and grateful today I have other bereaved siblings who understand and speak my language.
The birth of three grandchildren, two in the past six months has been a whirlwind, coupled with publishing my memoir and repeatedly sharing my story and retelling the story of the deaths of Margie and Jane, the path I took to grieve for Margie and after thirty years, founding of the Celebration of Sisters fundraiser, and the regrets I still hold.
Despite losing my sisters in 1981 and 1990, in some respects, I feel I am a newly bereaved sibling, navigating two separate grieving parallel universes. When my sisters died, grief was a foreign concept, and not having anyone to talk to, I took the role of caregiver and not allowing myself time to think about the losses of Margie and Jane. Sadness, confusion, and loneliness took over, and I kept pushing down the feelings and kept busy raising two daughters as a single mother, taking care of my parents, working full time, yet knew not a recipe for the mourning process.
The other day I went through some photographs, and reread cards and letters from Margie and Jane. I discovered a poem written by Margie entitled, “The Library.” My heart skipped a beat. The connection to my sisters clear not solely in skating. I received a degree in Library Science shortly after Margie died. At the hospital library, Margie read newspapers, periodicals, and wrote. We shared the love of reading and apparently writing too. Jane and I shared our work in retail.
There are gaps that are now being filled. Why did I wait three decades? Would I be where I am today? Bottom line is the love of my sisters. I need to unleash more memories and realize how deeply my sisters define me, how deeply I miss them, and for them to be part of my life, talked about and shared for the beautiful, special sisters they were, complicated, but my Margie and Jane.
Today I have support of other bereaved siblings and continue to work with a therapist. I may explore other options on the grief journey. I am upset that people look at me and think that the grief defines me; it is part of me, and I have moved forward. I hope to help others in their grief, but there is always work to be done on me, and to advocate for others in their grief.
Judy Lipson, is the Founder of Celebration of Sisters, an ice skating fundraiser established in 2011 to commemorate the memories of her beloved sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital. Judy has published articles for The Open to Hope Foundation and The Centering Organization. Massachusetts General Hospital and SKATING Magazine featured numerous pieces on Judy’s philanthropic work. Judy appeared as a guest on The Open To Hope and The Morning Glory Podcasts. Her passion for figure skating secured the recipient of U.S. Figure Skating Association 2020 Get Up Award. Judy’s memoir, Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve, released December 2021 by WriteLife Publishing.