Out of Grief

 

 

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On Saturday, January 6, 2018, I received a phone call from my mother informing me that my great aunt Evelyn had passed. Although I knew she had been battling cancer, I did not think that news of her death would come so soon, especially since it was the beginning of the new year. The news of her passing instantly reminded me of the day my mother called me when my Granny passed. I started to feel the same emotions and was completely consumed with sadness. It broke my heart that yet another family member had passed away–a family member tied so closely to my beloved Granny. 

I spent the rest of the day wallowing in grief and sadness. As far as I was concerned, my day had been ruined. The plans I had were already cancelled and this news was the icing on the cake. So I did my best to spend the day processing through the grief the best way I knew how. As I mentioned in Grandmother, the Alchemist. grief is a tricky thing. There is not one right way to conquer it, and it can come in waves when you least expect it.

If I felt like crying, I cried. I slept when the tears ceased to fall, and I watched Harry Potter movies to take my mind off of things. Sunday rolled around and I still could not bring myself to get out and face the world. I realized that I had not processed through my Granny’s death as much as I thought, and it frustrated me.

Later that Sunday afternoon, I was able to pull myself together and set a game plan for how I was going to make sure I did not let this loss be the story of my 2018. I had already revisited my goals for 2018, but I knew I needed to be a bit more intentional about the changes I wanted to make. I also knew that just writing them down on paper was not going to cut it this year–I needed to start taking action and make changes right then and there. I needed to get excited about the things I wanted to do, and I needed to accept that in the midst of death, life still goes on. I had to realize that I owe it to my Granny, my great aunt, and every other family member I have lost to live my life fully. They would want me to. Something good bloomed out of my grief and although I am still processing, I am able to do so with much more positivity. 

Now I have seen a lot of debate about goal setting this year. A lot of people are against it, do not quite understand the need for it, etc. But I encourage you to not get so caught up in the word “goal”. An intention for the new year can be viewed as a goal, any changes you want to make can be viewed as goals–the way you view this concept should be personal to you. 

What are goals? Well, according to good ol’ Merriam Webster:

goal

noun

2. the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result

So like I said, a goal can be anything. Desires count, efforts toward achieving something count, it all counts. If I am doing actual goal setting, here’s how I approach it: I try to organize them by the different areas of my life, and I create a map, of sorts, to help visualize what I want to achieve. Here’s an example:

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 1. Set the actual goal.

Ask yourself what it is you want to achieve. Is there something you want to learn? Something you want to improve? Something you want to do more of? Or even something you do not want to do, if that works for you.

2. Why do you want to achieve this goal?

Once you have set the goal, start looking at your intentions. Why is this important to you? What is fueling this particular desire? Make sure your heart and mind are in the right place.

3. How can you achieve this goal?

This is the action part. You may not know initially how to go about achieving the particular goal you have set, and that is okay. Thinking about it will allow you to get the wheels turning and inspire you to try new things to achieve what you have set out to do. Do not be afraid of what may feel like failing along the way–use it as motivation to keep pushing you into greatness. 

4. Affirm that you will accomplish exactly what you set out to do. 

You have to believe that you can do whatever it is that you set your mind to. God created you to be great and he has equipped you with everything you need to live out your purpose. So encourage yourself. Write out affirmations related to your goals and remind yourself daily that you will be successful. Before you know it, you will be doing everything you intended to do this year. 

No matter what approach you take to “goal setting”, always remember to give it all to God. It is important that you surrender yourself to Him and His will. He knows what is best for you and can be a great help when you are trying to figure out what you hope 2018 will be.

What is your plan for 2018? Personally, I am focusing more on intentions this year and keeping the goals I set in 2017 for inspiration. I have never been fond of setting “new year resolutions”, but I have found that setting goals helps me stay focused on being the best Anaston I can be. I use them as a reminder when life starts to get chaotic and I am searching for inspiration to do something.  This is a work in progress though, and once I have a clear understanding I will share with you. If you have set your goals, intentions, desires, etc. for 2018 share them with me! I’d love to witness the greatness you are going to achieve. 

“In all things in 2018, be intentional. Be convicted in your intentions and the year and life you want will manifest according to God’s will. May your 2018 be full of light, love, and an abundance of blessings.” x Anaston Jeni

Grandmother, the Alchemist.

 

“Grandmother, the alchemist, you spun gold out of this hard life, conjured beauty from the things left behind. Found healing where it did not live. Discovered the antidote in your own kit. Broke the curse with your own two hands…’I had my ups and down, but I always found the strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”- Excerpt from Beyonce’s Lemonade.

I have to be honest, I have been avoiding completing this blog post for months. Grief is such a strange thing. There is no recipe for “How to Deal With Grief”, & despite all of the self-help books, articles, etc. the fact remains the same–people deal with grief differently. & guess what that means? You have to learn how to navigate through it in a way that works best for you. So that’s what I have been doing, & I can’t tell you that I have figured it out just yet.

My Granny passed away in March of 2016. I thought I prepared myself for her death, but I was way more unprepared than I could have ever imagined. I can’t even describe the audible sounds that escaped my body when my mother called to give me the news. I immediately felt an immense sadness, & wished that I would be able so see her one more time. Hold her hand one more time. Roll her hair or get her dressed one more time. Watch her say her prayers before bed one more time. Give her something sweet for a snack one more time.

So now almost a year later, I still have those same wishes. I often think of all of the memories I have of her & the things she taught me. I’ve picked 3 pearls to share with you.

  • My Granny taught me the importance of prayer.

When her body was able she would get on her knees & say her prayers before bed every night. No matter what time it was, no matter where she was. Sometimes, because of the disease (Alzheimer’s) she would say them over & over, but she would always pray. One of my fondest memories is just watching her pray & wondering what it was she was talking to God about. She also prayed over her meals, even if it was as simple as “Jesus wept”. But regardless of the twists & turns of her life, her relationship with God remained constant. Her faith & her dedication to Him have inspired me to be much more intentional about my walk with God.

  • My Granny taught me the true meaning of unconditional love & that it is okay to “need” it.

Unconditionally loving someone is a remarkable thing, & I truly loved my Granny. As a child, I used to think that love was based on what people did for me, what they said to me, & even how they loved me. But during the last few years of my Granny’s life, I learned that love is not subject to a condition. When you love someone, truly love someone, you just love them. There were times where my Granny was sweet, I loved her. There were times when she was not so sweet, I loved her. There were times when she needed me, I loved her. There were times where she didn’t want to be bothered, I loved her. Because I loved her, I was willing to do anything to make sure that she was happy & well taken care of. If that meant feeding her, I did it because I loved her. If that meant repeating things to her twenty times, I did it because I loved her. If that meant staying with her all day & spending endless hours in a hospital, I did it because I loved her. There were times when I would get so frustrated with the situation & the things she would do or say, but I still loved her. I would be angry, disappointed, & sometimes even annoyed…& yet my love for her never changed. There was no “if this occurs, then I love her” or “I love her when”. That’s when I realized what love was supposed to be. 

Some of the most precious memories I have are when my Granny would ask me or my mom to stay with her when it was time for us to leave. It would break my heart when she would cry & ask us not to leave her. My Granny was a strong woman, one of the strongest I know, but she still needed love. She needed us, our love, our companionship, & it was okay. I think we sometimes feel guilty for wanting other people to love us. Yes, our love for self should be sufficient; the love God has for us is always more than sufficient…but never forget that it is important to feel love from the people around us. We were made to love & getting love in return, in whatever healthy form it comes, is something that it is okay to say that you need.

  • My Granny taught me how valuable time truly is.

Time is really one of the most valuable things we have on Earth. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. It is so important to treat every single day as a blessing, & you have to try to make the best of every moment. There were times where I didn’t slow down to appreciate some of the little moments with my Grandmother, & a part of me probably thought that I had a little more time. But one day I didn’t, she was gone, & all I wanted was a few more moments with her. You have to be present in life. Be intentional. Show up for people & always be mindful that tomorrow isn’t promised. 

What did your Granny teach you? Grandparents are extremely special people, & I’m blessed to have been able to have time with all of mine. We learn so many life lessons from them, some that don’t even “hit” us until maybe years after they are gone. Take some time to reflect on the time you’ve spent with your grandparents or even just your grandmother. I recently wrote a letter to mine that was therapeutic in my healing process. It’s also a great way to exercise your memory & remember some things you may have forgotten. My Granny was remarkable, magical, even. There were times where I was just in awe of her & everything she was. She was beautiful, she was honest, she was loving, she was strong, she was faithful. She lived life to the fullest from beginning to end. & I am blessed to have been able to know her in such a special way.