Loss, Grief, and Solitude

I don’t have much to offer right now. The past few days have been fraught with sad news. My best friend buried her Grandfather (It took a few days for the body to be flown out of the United States to its final resting place.), and the other is burying her father, who passed away this morning. Both lived long lives, but there are mixed emotions for those involved, and I feel it.

These issues bring up my own losses, because I am dealing with a lot of trauma at the moment. As one person said to me, “You know how it is, because you did all of this by yourself.” That’s right; I did. I arranged everything by myself. Two funerals. A headstone. An unveiling. I have not been back since, but I need to go and try to get a feel for things because avoiding it is not helping me.

I remember asking a family member about a word for the headstone and being told, “I’m not paying for it; they weren’t MY parents.” Yeah, my jaw dropped for a second before I composed myself. All I did was ask if they wanted a word added to one side of the stone. I displayed an act of kindness which shouldn’t have been shunned, and yes, I paid for the word and the stone. I showed respect to someone who disrespects me constantly. Nothing has changed in almost thirteen years. I see it, and I’m paying attention. I don’t have to understand why this person chooses to behave this way towards me, I only have to understand and control my response to it.

Grief and loss were once the only things I felt I had to offer others, but not anymore. Now I see myself clearly and I know I am not the cause for these things. In fact, I’m actually the person who will offer someone the most guidance and support. If my pain can help someone else, then I will allow that, but my pain isn’t going to be used against me.

I’ll be back soon, hopefully with better news.

Eighty One Years Old

It’s International Women’s Day, but it’s also the anniversary of the passing of my Grandmother. This year, I choose to honor one over the other. Obviously, I’m going to choose my family. 

My Grandmother helped raise my brother and I, and she did so happily. She lived directly across the street, and was a solid fixture in our daily lives after my Grandfather passed away. I never had babysitters or strangers around me; there was always a family member present, and for the first half of my life, that person was almost always my Grandmother.

There was never a time she was not present for a graduation, a birthday, a holiday, gymnastics, various performances, etc. She paid for my voice lessons, and was the first person to offer up ANYTHING she deemed necessary for her grandchildren. We were always a priority. She attended everything my brother and I participated in. She took us to movies, museums, parades, and anything cultural and/or artistic. She kept your favorite ice cream in the freezer and always had matzo ball soup on hand for when we were sick. I spoke to her almost daily.

When my Grandmother called to say she’d been diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t believe her the way I would now. I was in denial. I also didn’t know half as much about it as I do now, and for that I live with terrible regret.

I remember precisely what she said to me three weeks before she passed away. Despite being her only Granddaughter, I didn’t receive a lot of compliments, but that day, it was as if she was seeing me for the first time. I did my best to keep my promises to her, but alas, I failed on all accounts. I honored her the best way I knew how, and I still do. I remember everything with such clarity that it often haunts me.

I’m sorry, Grandma, that I could not keep my mother alive, “keep the family together”, or be the “peacekeeper”. I’m not sorry for everything I did right, though. Unfortunately, not everything was within my control.  

My brother & I loved our Grandmother to pieces. No matter what, we know where we came from and how we got where we are. I know she still looks after all of us. Always with us, always in our hearts, always loved. 

Pokoysya s mirom, milaya babushka. Vy navsegda v nashikh serdtsakh.

copyright © 2019 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. This authors’ work is protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



Eleven Years Ago


I buried my father eleven years ago today. It is the exact day; a cold Sunday that seemed to go on forever. When a funeral home employee pulled me aside that day and asked me to identify the body, I tried holding my brother back, in an attempt to shield him from what I’d just seen. It was not a peaceful image, and it still haunts me to some extent.  

So YES, the holidays are hard, even though Chanukah and Yule are over. Minimal celebration was had this year. It was as if I didn’t exist and YES, THAT HURT.

Eleven years ago, I eulogized my father in front of family and friends (Many of his coworkers attended, and we were quite surprised to discover how loved my father was. At the end of the service, one woman came up to me to tell me how much I meant to him; how he always lit up whenever I would call him. It was hard to compartmentalize the information at the time, and it’s hard now, too.), and his nieces, nephews, great niece, and great nephews didn’t even bother to show up. 😡 They didn’t call, didn’t send a card, and they didn’t acknowledge what my mother, brother, and I were going through. My mother’s extended family was not much better. When someone is more interested in their spin class instead of the death of a family member, I should be permitted to shoot them in the ass, thus making spin class unnecessary.

The family member who called the night of my father’s funeral and told me “G-d isn’t ready for your mother yet.” 😲😡 #InsensitiveAF I don’t think I’ll EVER be able to forgive her for putting that message out into the Universe, because five months later, I had to return and do the whole thing all over again. She offered to be there for me after the fact, but after a few months, I soon realized her guilt taught her nothing and my contact with her ended. 

We knew my father was dying. It was not a secret. He had terminal cancer. I began writing the eulogy in late September, and I finalized it around 2:00 a.m. the morning of the funeral service. With my Mom, it was so unexpected for me that I wrote everything at the last minute. I’m not really sure how I got through either eulogy, but I remember reading them and trying to emotionally detach.   

The holidays are hard for so many people, all for different reasons.

I’m SO PROUD of my amazing friends who baked for people who are suffering so they wouldn’t feel alone or be forgotten, those who passed over time with family in order to help feed the homeless, those who participated in charity fundraisers to help those in need, those who sponsored families to ensure there would be gifts, food, and necessities, and those who donated their birthdays this month to raise money for worthy charities.

Today, I’m trying not to revisit the pain. I’m trying to keep my emotions in check because I KNOW I’m still angry. I also know I have every right to be. My feelings are valid.

Check on your strong friends these next few weeks. Sometimes, the holidays shatter our lives. It may not be permanent, but right now, it certainly feels that way. 😦

I’m okay-ish, but I’m not good. I don’t think people who haven’t experienced loss quite like I have are able to fully understand what it takes each day to get out of bed and live. I know so many people who have never been to a funeral or lost anyone. They have Great-Great-Grandparents who are still alive (which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.)! Their naivete is unbelievable, but hopefully they will understand at some point. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, but I do worry about those who lack empathy and compassion. Where is their humanity?!

Today, I got to relive the horror of what my brother and I have been through. Our text messages to each other were short, simple, and impersonal, neither one bringing the subject up. I know we’re both thinking it, though. I know it is too hard for him to fully focus on, so I take up the responsibility. We’re as different as we are alike, but last year he told me “You are the best of both Mom and Dad. You inherited all their goodness.” I was so stunned by his comment, and now it just makes me wonder because I’d never use the word “good” to describe myself. Perhaps he sees something I don’t. In many respects, I am my own worst critic.

If it wasn’t for medication prescribed for Complex PTSD, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the holidays. I’m barely keeping it together, but my brother’s words… They kind of stick in the back of my mind. I have witnessed so much goodness in him, so I think he might be overestimating me in some capacity.

Regardless, this is rough day for me. The fact that I’ve had a migraine since last weekend hasn’t made things better, either. C’est la vie. Somehow, we survive specific life experiences and we move on, but I’m far from healed. That’s been part of my focus this year; learning how to heal.    

copyright 2018 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All written work may not be re-posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under United States and International copyright laws. Additional protection is covered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  


With Love

“Your life was a blessing, your memory a treasure. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.” -Unknown

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure”.

You were everything to me for nearly eighteen years. My heart is heavy today, as I look up at the box containing your ashes, a decision I had to make that broke me. I promise to move them into something special as soon as possible, and I promise to find a locket to keep you with me, always.

Ya lyublyu tyebya fsyei dushoj. (I love you with all of my soul.)

He Is Not Dead

“I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you—oh you, who the wildest yearn
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not dead—he is just away.”
―James Whitcomb Riley

In memory of my Uncle, who would have been sixty-five today. Te amo.

Some People, They Can’t Just Move On…

“Some people, they can’t just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me… I don’t know. I didn’t want to fix it, to forget. It wasn’t something that was broken. It’s just…something that happened. And like that hole, I’m just finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time. ” ―Sarah Dessen

*In Memory Of My Grandfather…Великою людиною дійсно ніколи не може бути втрачено або забуто- A great man can never truly be lost or forgotten.*



There are so many things in life that can be chalked up into two different categories: Good memories and bad memories. There are also “middle of the road” memories, but I’ll leave that for another day.

I woke up way too early this morning. It was still dark outside. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was so annoyed, bothered, and agitated. I was trying very hard not to be viciously bitchy, so I decided to keep my mouth shut. The one thing I didn’t do was sit around and ponder it, I got up and went off in search of something to do.

It probably took me four or five hours to realize that today is May 20th, the anniversary of my Uncle’s death. It astounds me that it’s been several years and didn’t just happen yesterday, which is precisely how it feels. I was completely numb then, in absolute disbelief, and I’m numb today.

I miss him. 

A framed photo of him is on top of the armoire in the corner of my bedroom. I glanced up at it a little while ago, because his presence can be felt. He was the kind of person that could walk into any room and command it with absolute certainty. He had an incredibly magnetic personality and much like me, you either loved him or you didn’t. He didn’t waste time trying to win you over if you were clearly on the other side, nor did he have to. He was one of the finest human-beings to walk this planet. He always treated me like a prized daughter. Always.

A lot of women are often accused of seeking out “father figures” in their marriage choices, especially if they come from an abusive background with a father or if they never had a male role model to look to as they grew up. I am not one of those women. I do look at men closely to see how they might behave in the future with children of their own, but I do not see them as a “fatherly role model” for myself. Nor should I. It’s one of the healthier aspects of who I am in a relationship. I know myself and I know what I’m looking for. There are plenty of good men that aren’t good fathers, and plenty of good fathers who aren’t good partners or good men.

Despite the mixed emotions I have about my father and the relationship I had with him, the relationship with my Uncle is not one I ever question. Was I loved? Yes. Was I treated with respect? Absolutely. In fact, there were probably times I was treated better than his own children because we had a very deep bond. Not only can I visually pass for one of his daughters, but it’s precisely what people think when they look at me. The two people in this world I most closely resemble are my mother and my Uncle, and both of them are gone.

I have amazing memories of my Uncle. Yes, he was slightly off the wall and uniquely himself, but goodness radiated from his soul. This is, after all, the man who snuck into one of my graduation ceremonies and stood in the back so as not to interfere with the ceremony. But as I got on stage to receive my diploma, his unmistakable presence was a huge part of why I was smiling in my photos. He always showed his love and support in immense ways.

I thank him, today and always, for all that he taught me. He believed in my ability to achieve my goals, to reach new heights, and to chart new territory. As I go through a new phase in my life, I am reminded of his smiling eyes and how proud of me he always was, no matter what. He didn’t always need words, his eyes said everything for him.

I was incredibly blessed to have you in my life and I am in awe of the lives you were able to touch in your 58 years. I also breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you did not suffer.

I love you Uncle R. Thank you…for everything.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Mother & Daughter


First friend; best friend.

The reason I am who I am.

The person who encouraged me never to follow, but always to lead.

Guide-post. Lighthouse. Anchor.

Part angel, part saint.

The best listener.

Could always see the best in me, even when I didn’t believe there was any.

Teacher of so much.

Giver of books, music, art, culture, and life.

Laughter ’til we cried.

Taught me, in part, how to be a mother with a very simple gift.

Saw my talents clearer than anyone else.

Hated it when friends disappointed, lied, and hurt me. Enraged when men did the same.

Was always in awe of my strength.

Was not afraid to lean on me and allow me to be strong when she was not.

My first audience.

Lover of sunsets, rainbows, lilacs, and cats.

Honesty, Integrity, Loyalty, Love, Friendship.

You thought I was the blessing, but I know with certainty that I was blessed to have you as my mother.

You worked two jobs, took care of your children, and never once looked back. That is immense heroism.

Small aspects of who you are and what you mean to me.

Words fail…


I learned from my mother, but I also taught her in kind. Our relationship was one of kindred spirits. I’m strong and fierce because she was not able to be that kind of woman, having been raised differently. She encouraged my voice because she often felt she did not have one that others would listen to. She is the reason I am a supremely confident writer.

Days like today are very hard. They are made easier when one can honor their loved one, in their own attempt to heal. Truth be told, I don’t think one can ever repair the hole inside my heart at such a devastating loss, but I’m trying.


“Serenity is yours.
When chaos looms seek the sweet
Surrender of simplicity.
Gaze above at the glassy sky,
Feel each blade of green
Beneath your feet,
Listen to the sound of faith
Like a reed flute playing
Inside your chest.
Stand in witness of
Your true nature.
Remember the compassion
Of the lover’s eyes,
The calm wisdom of
The elder’s voice.
Go within. Be at rest without.
Fall to your knees in gratitude.
You have all you need.
Turn from the riot of distraction.
Let it roll over and beyond you.
Serenity is yours.
It lives always within your reach.”

-Ching Qu Lam

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Seven Years

Seven years can change everything. 

I walked out of the house the other day and for the first time, I did not have issues about this moment. It’s not about ‘coming to terms’, but maybe it’s about ‘coming to a new place’. Maybe it is a sign that my soul has learned how to handle this from year to year. 

Seven years… It can change how you see the world, how you see yourself, how you see your relationships, and how you see the future.

I have hardened. I have softened. I have strengthened. I have focused on myself, and I have grown. I see how much growth from last year to today.

I have fought battles, and won. I have fought battles that weren’t worth fighting, and walked away unscathed. I have tended wounds, and worked on scars. I have loved and been loved. I have seen beauty, and I have seen the dark underbelly.

I have accomplished things people told me I would never attain on my own. I have risen out of the ashes, as the infinite phoenix of my own destiny. Most importantly, I have stood on my own two feet. No matter where life takes me, I know who I am. I know my worth and value.

In Memory of my father, who knows why these things are all so very important.

…May You Never Be Broken Again.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Portions of this are copyright © 2013 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

There Is A Place…


In Memory of my Uncle, who passed away suddenly three years ago. Today would have been his 62nd birthday. If anyone lived life to the fullest and gave with his whole heart, it was him. He was my guide post for so much in my life, and for that I will forever be grateful.



“Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Surely heaven waits for you…” -Kansas