Tell Them – Thanks for Pulling Me Through

As many of you know, my brother passed away this past August from a brief battle with cancer. I’ve said a few times on my blog how surprised I was that his passing hit me so hard. What I didn’t tell you is that for a few months, I believe I was quite depressed.

I’ve suffered postpartum depression before, but in the months following my brothers passing I experienced a range of emotions I had never felt so deeply in my life. I was in a fog, crying on a whim, blowing up at situations that normally wouldn’t bother me, isolating people around me, not responding to deadlines, ignoring important emails, letting bills pile up, not answering the phone and pretty much expecting my kids to fend for themselves on mornings before school. At one point I was alone in my car after an extremely tough day and the temptation to just drive and keep driving away from everything hit me so hard, I had to pull over and get a grip.

Outwardly, I tried to put on a happy face… talking myself into believing I was alright, that I could put on a front and people wouldn’t know anything was wrong. I hid behind a facade of contentment… or at least I thought I did.

So many of you sent me cards, emails, tweets, facebook messages, phone calls, etc during that time. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated each and every hand of kindness that was extended to me. There was one card though, sent to me exactly two months after my brother died, that woke me up and essentially pulled me through what was a very dark time in my life.

The card was from a reader named Dana. Among other things, Dana wrote:

“I am writing to you because in many of your recent posts I can hear the pain and grief that you are going through right now. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am praying for you. Your blog really inspired me during a rough patch that I went through and I have always wanted to thank you for that.”

In addition, there was a quote:

Dana’s card, thoughtfully sent to me with words that truly hit home, is one of the things that helped me get through a dark time in my life. The timing of it arriving in my mailbox was such a gift… it was exactly what I needed to hear at the exact time I needed to hear it.

I sat down this weekend to finally write Dana back and to tell her how much her kindness, her words and her thoughts impacted my life. Because of her, I soon realized I wasn’t fooling anyone and was then able to come to terms with my thoughts and emotions head on instead of trying to suffer behind them.

I’m happy to say I’m fine now… there are times every day where my heart hurts and tears sting my eyes, but I can say that I am honestly able to see the light now instead of the darkness.

If there is someone on your mind…someone you have been thinking about and meaning to reach out to, I urge you to do so. Tell them what is on your mind through a card. You never know how life changing it can be.

I’m honored to be partnering with Hallmark in 2012 as part of their “Life Is a Special Occasion” campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.

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  1. says

    I am so sorry for your loss, Kristen (my twin brother lost a kidney to cancer) thank you so much for sharing your story and, well, for continuing to inspire your readers including your newest fan (me!)

  2. says

    Just hearing or reading words someone else has shared can often open our eyes. You share so much of yourself here, and I know I do appreciate your openness and honesty. As a mom, we all feel that we can’t ‘fall apart’ because everyone depends on us… but we also have to take care of ourselves and our emotions. I’m thinking of you!

  3. Judith - Texas says

    Kristen, when my Momma passed away over 10 years ago, I went through the “dark” period also and it was a struggle. However, leaning on my Faith, the support of my husband, I survived. Yes, there are still times when thoughts of her make me sad and teary eyed, but I know she raised me right and taught me by her actions how to be strong; so I honor her by living in the Light and not the darkness. You will learn that Time will be one your best friends and eventually everything will seem brighter again.

  4. says

    Well written, thank you! Having lost two sisters a few years ago, I know that the pain will always be there, but agree that people and things can heal and help us carry on. God bless!

  5. says

    I too, have had loss in the past few years. It’s unexpected how the grief overwhelms you and takes over. I am so glad to hear that you are lifting yourself out of this dark place, Kristen. I does come and go, but there is nothing more powerful than the initial grief – after the shock. Thanks for sharing this, being vulnerable, and for your honesty! xx

  6. says

    I’m sorry you have been struggling. I know that losing a loved one can be very difficult. It has been over 10 years since my brother died and there is still sometimes pain, but the first year was the worst.
    I am glad that you received what you needed to help bring you out of the fog. I pray that you will continue to receive strength when you need it!

  7. says

    Kristen… heart goes out to you, and I’m inspired by the strength you had to share. Wonderful how the right words arrived at the right time.

  8. Windy Phillips says

    Thank you for sharing the less than picture-perfect parts of your life with us. So few are willing to do that. It shows what courage and depth of character you have and why your readers love you. The kindness of strangers (or almost strangers) has always amazed me. Sometimes they can break through where your loved ones just aren’t able to. I’m so glad that Dana’s message found you when you needed it.

  9. says

    People should never under estimate the power of a hand written letter or card. If someone is even slightly doubting sending a short note to someone, just do it! It makes such a difference! Thank you for sharing.

  10. says

    Grief is such a hard thing to go through. Thankfully you had people that encouraged you. Dana sounds like a treasure.
    It just takes time to go through the grief process. My Mother passed 5 years ago and it has been a sruggle, with the first year being by far one of the worst years of my life. But friends and God were there with me. You will make it too.

  11. says

    What a lovely thank you to someone that provided such kind words at a time when you needed them the most. You are adored by so many, Kristen and I’m so happy to hear that your heart is healing. xo

  12. says

    … my brother died of cancer in Sept 09 and your post is one of the first I’ve read that speaks to the power of grief of losing a sibling (my other brother said we didn’t lose him – he will always be with us BUT that idea doesn’t always jive with how I’m feeling although I know he was just trying to make us all feel better. Additionally, in losing my brother, I also lost the rest of my family as they were before he died – we are all different now). I hope writing this has made as much of an impact on you as it made on me and is making on others. Thanks.

  13. says

    What a wonderful, honest and inspiring post. Months ago I came across a young woman purchasing gads of notecards from my work. She looked at me sheepishly and said, “It may seem old fashioned, but I write a letter to my grandmother every week.”

    It sparked something and I found myself buying notecards and writing both my grandmothers every month since. I had just lost both grandfathers within the year and thought it was a great idea. To cope maybe.

    So thank you for urging people to correspond through written word-it is so touching, caring and kind.


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