ON a sunny day in August, 2000 my world tilted on its axis. My gentle, newly-married, 23-year-old son had been killed. Murdered. His body, recovered from the burnt shell of his wife’s car, could only be identified by dental records. Six years later I was awakened by a call with the news that my only sister had been killed. She wanted a divorce, her husband didn’t, and rather than lose her he shot her. I felt like lightning had struck me twice. With great love and patience from my husband and the help of a gifted counselor, I managed to “move through” my grief and live a relatively normal life.
Having lived through these tragic deaths, I have since tried to help other people through their grief. Everyone grieves in their own way, but in our sanitized world, the topic of death is one rarely discussed. Without discussion we cannot learn how to handle death. It is no surprise then, when we are grieving, when we need support more than ever, people have no idea how to help. Rather than say the wrong thing they frequently avoid you. They use trite phrases that can hurt, “He’s in a better place.” Or they ask you if you are “over” it yet. In my experience, we can move through grief, but we never get “over” the loss of a loved one.
All of us will experience grief in our lives. Only some will reach out for help or company to heal. But what if there was a safe place you could go and discuss sensitive subjects such as death with other like-minded and like-experienced women? Would you go? I did.
Last year I attended the We Move Forward conference and women’s celebration held on The Island of Women, Isla Mujeres, Mexico. When I registered I didn’t have a particular reason for doing so, but after living on Isla Mujeres for the previous 19 years, I was just happy to experience what my friends, who live in a more modern world, take for granted. However, it was through the We Move Forward experience that I forged a new direction. I had the opportunity to share a bit of my story. Fellow participants and new-found friends Betty-Anne Howard and Maggie Ashton encouraged me to look at all the ways I might use my story to help others. I have decided to write a book. I hope my story and experiences will be helpful to others in their time of sorrow. I can’t say I’ve put pen to paper yet, but trust me, the ideas are whirling around and taking form in my mind.
My husband Bob and I are proud to be Gold Sponsors of We Move Forward 2013. We have lived on beautiful Isla Mujeres since March 1993. We thought we might stay for a couple of years – five at most – but, 20 years later, we are still here. Semi-retired, we own and operate the popular vacation rental property, Casitas del Mar (www.joyceandbob.com/casitasdelmar) as well as a rental house. I am excited about We Move Forward 2013, and look forward to meeting more dynamic women and gathering momentum to move forward with writing my book.