It’s been almost three months and my brain still expects Cat to respond to the last message I sent her.
You’d expect that after these months have gone by, dealing with this loss would have gotten easier. In a way, it has, but there are still these moments when I see the smallest little thing that reminds me of her and I think to myself, “Damn… I miss her so much.”
It is moments like these when I’m reminded of heartbreak. I’m reminded that on the surface, we grasp and accept the notion of death, but when it enters our lives unexpectedly, we somehow refuse to accept that it’s real. I refuse to accept that my friend is just not physically here anymore. My friend, for whom I knew for over 15 years. (Good Lord, these years flew by.)
…my heart hurts so much as I type all of this…
Celebrating the Life of Cat Tierney
Please join us in remembering our beautiful friend, Cat, at the Hamilton Stage Theatre in Rahway, New Jersey on Sunday, September 22nd at 6pm.
CLICK HERE for more information.
It Amazes Me
During these months, I’ve seen so many beautiful tributes from people who were affected by Cat in some way or fashion. It amazes me how deeply connected this beautiful woman was to the people around her. It amazes me hearing the stories of how Cat would connect with people that she hadn’t even met, and still affect their lives in a significant way.
It amazes me when I hear from people that may have been estranged from Cat be affected by her to this day. For whatever reason of their estrangement, for better or for worst, she changed them. And since her passing, I think we’ve all taken a closer look at how we treat the people we spend our time with, whether we’re close friends with them or not.
All of this amazes me, but it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Cat just had, and continues to have that effect on all of us.
Understanding Our Grief
I don’t understand it. I mean, I get it. But I struggle with this. I take solace knowing that I am not the only one. I know there are many people out there right now that feel the same way. I just don’t understand how this happens.
I think about how our individual grief is unique. How I deal with this may be different than you. How long I grieve may be different than you. Some people may have moved forward, some people may still be struggling with grasping this situation. One thing I constantly remind myself of is that everyone’s grief is valid, and should be supported by the entire community.
Ultimately, while I do not fully understand my grief, I do recognize that we all have the right to grieve in our own way. There are no right or wrong answers here.
My Sadness Wins Sometimes
Those of you that know me well, know that I am generally an upbeat person. While I am not perfect (by any means) I do try to keep my spirits up and spread positivity as much as I can. (#GoodVibes, my loves!) But sometimes, there are these moments when I am overcome with sadness. It hurts.
Sometimes my sadness wins the moment. It’s complicated, but I do my best to handle it and not let it affect my day. But I’d be a liar if I said that I don’t go silent at work because I am thinking of her. I’d be a liar if I said that I don’t sit on my couch in my apartment in silence and think about how she was just here. I’d be a liar if I said that I don’t lay in my bed at night staring at the ceiling hoping that my phone chime will go off and it’s her checking in on me like she always did.
I am writing this publicly, not to gain attention or get people to feel bad for me, but to make sure that people out there know that they are not alone if they are still struggling with coping with Cat’s loss, or any loss for that matter.
You are not alone.
Where To Go From Here
Admittedly, I cannot sit here and offer anyone tips and tricks on how to cope. I’m not an expert in this and Lord knows that I am struggling very much. What I can do, however, is let you in on what I have been doing and what I plan on doing moving forward. Take a look and take from it anything that may help:
Exercise More – I plan on hitting the gym very hard again soon, as I seemed to have lost track since her death. In fact, one of her last messages to me was about working out. She said, “I am determined to serve body when its finally warm enough to drag my glow-in-the-dark ass to the beach.” (lolllll)
Sleep Better – My sleep schedule has been off and I have been working to get better at this.
Reaching Out – After Cat passed, so many people were reaching out to each other and checking in on each other. It was beautiful. This needs to continue. It can’t just be a passing fad. This has to be the new normal. So I have been reaching out to people that I haven’t spoken with in a long time and catching up, reaching out to people that may be struggling with grief too, and reaching out to people that could (hopefully) offer some support because I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps even starting/joining support groups.
Finding Strength – When I think about Cat, I often think about her family. I think of all the stories she would tell me about her family, especially her mom. I look at how strong and encouraging her family has been throughout this, and I can’t help but find strength within them. Their pain is unimaginable, and part of my grief lies with them. But I take solace in seeing them and their strength.
Additionally, I’ll share with you all something that a close friend shared with me.
“Coping with death is vital to your mental health. It is only natural to experience grief when a loved one dies. The best thing you can do is allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively with your pain.
Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.
Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.
Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.
Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.
Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes, such as moving, remarrying, changing jobs or having another child. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss.
Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.
Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.”
Life After Death
During the private memorial, the pastor spoke about “life after death”. He mentioned that while everyone in that room may have had a different view when it comes to faith and what happens to us after we pass, we can all agree on one thing – there is life after death.
Life after death lies with us – the people who miss Cat and everything that she was about. While Cat may not be here physically with us, her memory, her laugh, her singing voice, her empathy, her kindness, her loudness, her talent, her smile, her sweetness, her smart-ass commentary, her hugs, her kiss, her humor, her vacations, her beauty, her photos, her love…. It lives on forever.
I love you Cat. I miss you so much. We all do.