Rodeena Stephens Ceaser
Coping with the Loss of a Loved One
When a loved one dies, plans, vision, desire and self-motivation can literally come to a halt. When my mother passed away, a grief therapist said that losing my mother was equivalent to losing my compass. The person who offered guidance, direction, validation, and encouragement was no longer on this earth. Whatever motivation that existed when I was her caregiver, completely diminished the moment my mother breathed her last breath. The vlog I created during her final three months of life abruptly ended. The journal that penned my mother's journey with Alzheimer's ceased to become a book. My desire to share our story with the hope of helping others... vanished.
The years following my mother's passing was an emotional struggle that drained me of the strength needed to pursue my dreams of telling my story. Grief sapped me of my confidence to believe that my experiences, and my journey would help others. Grief monopolized my heart, and mind. As a result, the vlog that was intentionally created to bring awareness to this treacherous disease called Alzheimer's, died. My stories and personal memories of how to advise others to accept and cope with their loved one's Alzheimer's diagnosis dissipated as well. The seed that God put in me to use my journey to help others lay dormant... until now.
In the midst of my grief, I subconsciously helped bring awareness to Alzheimer's Disease. Last year, I launched my website, Fight to Remember, a site designed to help caregivers cope with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's. Three years ago, with the permission of my co-pastor, I launched Alzheimer's Awareness Awareness Sunday with the help of one of the church's health ministries. This Awareness Sunday includes an informative panel discussion facilitated by doctors, specialists and other medical professionals that specialize in Alzheimer's. Each year, this panel is attended by more than 300 people. In 2012, I started Team Butterfly. A dedicated group of friends that commit to Walk to End Alzheimer's, sponsored by the Alzheimer's Foundation. Team Butterfly has walked every year since 2012 and raised more than $6000 for Alzheimer's Research. In 2018, I was invited by radio host, Toya Beasley to be a guest on her radio show during Brain & Alzheimer's Awareness Month. For 30-minutes, I had the wonderful opportunity to share insight about Alzheimer's and its effect on those impacted by this illness.
I share this because my grief led me to believe that I wasn't making a difference. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to live through your grief. Alzheimer's is too big of a problem to overlook. I encourage you to be strong in the person that your loved one instilled in you to be. Put pen to paper, and write your story. Put fingers to keyboard and create that blog. Use the video feature on your mobile device and create that vlog. Put feet to pavement and walk to end Alzheimer's. Take baby steps to do the things that will allow you to cope with your grief.
Do grieve. Allow your mind and soul to grieve the loss of a loved one. There is no time limit on grief. Don't rush grief, however, I do encourage you to be inspired in your grief. Below, are some ideas on how to cope with grief:
1. Create a journal
2. Plant a garden in your loved ones memory
3. Create a vlog or blog.
4. Develop an annual project in your loved ones memory
5. Write a book
Keep the memory of your loved one alive. To honor my mother, each year on Mother's Day, I devote the entire day to planting a garden in front of my house. I take comfort in going to the green house and selecting flowers. The comfort continues as I prune and care for my garden throughout the summer. It keeps me close, and brings me joy to watch the flowers bloom and come to life.
What will you do to honor your loved one? I look forward to hearing about it.