Choose your perspective

Have you ever been to DisneyWorld, or any other large amusement park?

Have you ever watched how efficient the people who control the rides are? They are completely in sync with whats going on around them, each rollercoaster a well oiled machine.

People get off of the ride and immediately more people board, the ride goes and then stops and the same process happens over and over until the clock strikes midnight.

This scenario is a lot like grief. But you are the roller coaster, different emotions board your coaster and then just as fast as they got on, they get off. You never become too familiar with the emotions because of the speed they get on and off. You feel them, then you let them go.

Grieving is just like that, you feel a wave of sadness, and then sadness gets off the ride and is on its way to Toy Story Mania but might have a fast-pass to your coaster later. You never know what emotion will board your ride and you never know how you will react to those emotions. See, you’re not in charge of WHO buys a ticket and rides your ride that day. You don’t get to refuse who gets on the ride, the emotions get on and you have to deal with them for the next 3 minutes.

Thats what makes grief so hard.

As a person who is actively grieving, I have no control over the next emotion that may come my way. However, I do have control of the feeling I choose to react with.

In his book “High Performance HabitsBrendon Burchard states, “My automatic emotions don’t have to be in charge, my feelings are my own… life can feel the way we want it too.”

I take so much from this. My emotions are automatic, they are going to happen, but I don’t have to let them control me. I get to choose the feelings I want to have. In regards to grieving, I say that sometimes we have to take in those automatic emotions. But we get to choose how we take them in, for example, if it is the anniversary of Cooper’s death I know the emotion I will have will be sadness. But I can CHOOSE to do things that make me FEEL joy. I can choose to celebrate his life rather than choose to feel distraught about his death.

Friends, everything is perspective.

Your life, your work, your relationships. It’s all about how you look at things.
If you choose negative, you will see negative. If you choose positive, you will see positive. It’s really as simple as that, even with grief.

If I choose to be sad that Cooper is not here, I will be sad.

If I choose to CELEBRATE the years I got with Cooper, I will be JOYFUL.

Choose your perspective.

Lets talk facts

there is something you should know about me.. i am a firm believer in a good therapy session. at one point in my life i was seeing two different types of therapists TWICE a week. there is something about an hour in that magical room that teaches you just how messed up you are… and then how you can heal from those messes.

i went to therapy while cooper was in treatment and then i reluctantly went back to therapy about a year after he died. and let me tell you, the LAST place you want to walk into after your brother has just died, is your therapists office. but of course she was the first person to call me, and i sent her to voicemail only to walk into her office a year later. and in true kassidy fashion i walked in a hot mess.

it was during this second round of intense therapy that i learned the FACTS about grieving.

YES. everyone grieves differently. YES. your stages are different than others. and YES. you CAN & WILL grieve people and things that are not dead. that’s an important one. a common misconception around the word “grief” is that you are specifically grieving the dead, when actually you can grieve the ending of a relationship, dream job, or even losing your cat. death does not equal grief. loss equals grief.

this chart below is what changed my views on grief. i HATED the “5 stages of grief” chart. i felt like i needed to hit all 5 stages at a certain period of time and that once i moved passed a stage, that was it, i couldn’t move back. this chart explains what grief is and how it feels. like you are in a big, deep hole. all by yourself.

the first 6 months to year of grief you are in shock, you don’t believe the person is dead or that the job is gone. eventually you move down the line and to the very deep crevasses of the hole that is grief. and once you get there you feel the cold dark ground press against your skin, you’ve reached loneliness. in my head, loneliness is a she (so just go along with it). she is big and she is dark and she is scary. she holds you tight like a snake wrapping around a mouse. she tells you that life will not go on without the job or the person or the cat. she tells you that you will be alone and unworthy forever. she reminds you that you are ALONE.

until you realize you’re not.

now you’ve re-entered the world. you’re not on that cold ground anymore you’ve resurfaced just enough to hear the word “new”. that is a word of hope, a word that will remind you where there is grief and sadness, there is light. there is new relationships, new strengths, new patterns, there. is. hope.

it is impossible to find loneliness and hope in the same dark pit.

you must resurface just enough to see the light.

there is no light in loneliness.

i know that because i remember the exact moment i hit her dark floor. i remember hitting the loneliness and thinking i never want to be here again. yet, cooper isn’t the only thing i grieve. i hit the ground of loneliness often, more often than i would like to admit.

but i also choose to fish myself the hell out of there and re-enter into where the light is.

but again, i have to make that choice.

the first time i made that choice it took me 6 months. 6 months in that pit to decide i was going to go where the light was.

and with each loss, its a little easier to choose to get up again. to choose to go to the light.

friends, if you’re sitting on the floor of loneliness. get up. look up. find the light and go towards it.

it will be the hardest thing you ever do but you will not regret it for a second.

you will struggle and it will hurt and then guess what?

YOU. WILL. HEAL. & YOU. WILL. GROW. and you will become new and bright, just like that light.

How did we get here?

do you ever just stop and think, how did we get here?

you feel like you blinked and everything changed.

i recently experienced another huge loss in my family that really made me stop in my tracks.

how did we end up here?

growing up, my family was very close. we would go on family vacations every year and were always a party of 11, seven of us cousins all huddled up at the kids table. family dinners on vacations are still my favorite memories because it was always the place we plotted our next crazy adventure.

when my cousin passed away and I flew to New Jersey I couldn’t help but think how did we end up here? In 2016 when Cooper passed away, we went on a vacation and I remember it being so surreal looking around the dinner table and only seeing six of us, and now, the next trip, there would be five.

realizing we lost two young people sucks, i have no idea how we ended up here or why they were taken at such a young age. i have no idea how we got here and i have no idea when we will catch a break.

“when will we catch a break? isn’t it someone else’s turn to go through hell and back? what did we do to deserve this?”

all thoughts that are completely normal when you lose two young people and are fighting grief.

but it really got me thinking, when WILL we catch a break? when will life be easy and happy, like a scene from a Disney movie?

the answer to that question is, we will NEVER catch a break.

there will never be a time in life where we aren’t thrown a curveball, that is simply what life is. it is a rollercoaster with ups, downs, and even a few corkscrews. it can be thrilling and make you wanna throw up all at the same time. but it is the best rollercoaster you will ever go on.

so, we can choose to continue living in the mindset that things will never get better or we can choose to accept the fact that bad things will come to us, but so will good things. it’s a change in perspective and no one can force you to see it that way, you have to CHOOSE to see life differently. you have to CHOOSE to find joy in pain, in sorrow, in grief. you have to CHOOSE to laugh even when you’re in situations that just suck.

its. a. choice.

lately, i’ve had really bad luck. i’ve been in the hospital, struggling with another loss in the family, struggling with holidays coming up and Cooper not being here, adjusting to my big move, and even an awesome case of athletes foot and a boil on my butt (lol!).

i have NOT been the most positive, happy, or joyful person and it makes me upset because i know it’s my choice to choose joy.

Rachel Hollis, the author of “Girl, Wash Your Face” sums this concept up really nicely, “While you’re not in control of what life throws at you, you are in control of the fight.”

I love that (and her, if you haven’t read her book you NEED to!), you are not in control of whats happening to you, you are only in control of how you react and how you choose to fight.

so, will you fight?

will you fight for joy?

will you fight for love?

will you fight for the life you know you want?

and most importantly, will you fight for you?

… to my angels, all of me loves all of you. #forevertogether

The beginning

March 29th, 2016 7:10 p.m. 

City of Hope

1500 East Duarte Road Duarte, CA 91010

Patient – Cooper Owen

Room 6237

March 29th, 2016 7:10 P.M.
Cooper would take his last breath.

one. last. breath. one. last. beat. 

and it was all over.

three and a half years gone in a blink of an eye. 

cooper left this world very peaceful, i do not believe he was in pain and i KNOW he wanted to be with Jesus, he told me himself. 

he was at peace and he was healed.

but this is where my life shattered into a million pieces and all while Cooper was at peace, i was broken. and that my friends, the brokenness, is the first step to living a life after loss. you sit in the brokenness that is your life and you try to comprehend how to mourn. not only how to mourn the person you just lost but how to mourn the person you were before the loss.

after you lose someone you go through a transition where you’re completely lost you have no idea who you are or where to go. 

i lost someone at 20, an age where you already have no idea what you want or who you are, i was just discovering life all the while i was learning what it’s like to lose life itself. how do you figure out who you are, what you want out of life, AND that life is precious in the matter of months? you don’t. 

see, i spent the first year of grief attempting to figure out the meaning of life and the meaning of death.

i attempted to plan my whole life out so that the anxiety of the unknown would go away. 

and while i was doing that, life was passing me by, i wasn’t living i was planning. 

losing cooper is the hardest thing i have ever gone through.

losing cooper is the hardest thing i am CURRENTLY going through. 

the pain of losing him and the 3 1/2 years that we went through in order to try to save his life still haunt me every day.

but, struggle breeds greatness. 

i will struggle every day for the rest of my life but it is only making me greater. it is only making me stronger.

so if you’re struggling with the fact that you’re struggling, take a second and accept the fact that life is hard and the things that make life hard are the things that are shaping you into who you will become.

They don’t tell you

what they don’t tell you about cancer.

when you or your family member gets diagnosed with cancer they tell you when you will get your port put in, when to take your medications, when then next office visit is.

they tell you to “stay strong”, “keep going”, and “just try to be positive”. 

they attempt to encourage you in the middle of what seems like a hurricane of emotions.

december 5th 2015. 

cooper would begin his longest and last stay at the hospital, it was also his 18th birthday.

december 25th, 2015.

cooper’s last christmas with us.

december was, and still is a big month. it was the new normal really, dealing with 2 different cancers. coopers body was fighting more than ever to live and it was showing on the outside. 

coop had a constant fever and slept most of the day when he wasn’t in excruciating pain. 

when christmas rolled around we kept praying for a miracle. that his fever would break, that his pain would go away, that maybe just maybe we would have christmas at home. but some things just don’t work out the way you want them too. 

if you ever want to be so sad yet so full of joy all at the same time, walk into the pediatric oncology floor of a hospital on christmas day. you will see extremely sick kids, with extremely sad families. but you will also see hope, happiness, and some of the most grateful people in the world. grateful to have one more day, one more christmas with their babies. 

i remember everything about that christmas. the sights, smells, the tears, even the parking spot we unloaded all of our christmas presents from. i remember walking up to coopers room praying the hardest prayers i had ever prayed that he would be awake and feel good. 

one specific memory that will never leave my mind is when coop would open his gifts. normally coop was ALL about presents. when we were little we would all sleep in the same room on christmas eve and in the middle of the night cooper was always the one to go look at what santa had brought us. but this time, no emotion, he could barely open a gift and would just fall asleep. i waited patiently for him to get excited over all the gifts people had got him, but there was nothing that could bring him joy in that moment accept sleeping and a whole lot of pain medication.

what they don’t tell you about cancer?

they don’t tell you how sad christmas morning will be in the hospital.

how hurt you will feel when your brother is in extreme pain while you sit and watch.

how many times you will cry yourself to sleep over cancer, over the situation your family is living in. 

how tired you will be of living with cancer at the center of your family circle. 

how defeated you will feel once its over…