I lost my younger brother to leukemia when he was 13 years old. The years since his passing have been a rollercoaster of pain, anger, uncertainty and disbelief.
There’s no blueprint for grief. No instructions on how long the pain will last or how to answer questions that come from a good place but make you feel the feelings all over again or support you when you feel guilty in the moments when you’ve found a modicum of happiness.
In the first few years after he passed, I was so entrenched in my grief that I couldn’t see beyond it. I didn’t know how to live my life without him. And I didn’t yet know how to honor his time on the planet.
A few years ago I began to really think about what I could do to honor my brother each year on his birthday. I mean I’d been given the greatest gift ever in being allowed to be his big sister for 13 years…I had to give something back to honor every breath that he took and acknowledge all the breaths that he’d never get to take.
This year I decided to donate blood in his honor. It made me so happy and proud to walk into my favorite blood donation room and give the gift of life to those in need.
My 1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives.
I also posted a request on Facebook asking my friends and family to perform a random act of kindness in his name. I was so pleasantly surprised by all of the good that happened because people thought of my brother. My cousin shared an extra coffee that she had with a homeless gentleman. My mom helped an older woman in the grocery store look up an item that she needed for a recipe. A friend reached out to a friend she hadn’t talked to in a while and reconnected.
I’m crying as I write this because it’s never easy to share your hurt and your heart with the world…but when you do and you’re met with so much love and light and support, it goes straight to your heart.
If you are wondering about how best to honor someone that you love, please think of ways to do so via service to others. It reminds others of the light you lost while shining a light of good on those who need it. There are a lot of wonderful ways to give back and keep their hearts, spirits and legacies alive.
I know that I can’t bring my brother back but I’m grateful that through the very energy that I put into writing this blog or volunteering on his birthday or telling someone about my amazing brother, I am honoring his memory and making the world a little better place. I can’t think of a better way to honor him, honor my heart and shine my light for good.
I’ve officially coined November 9th as Damien Day and I can’t wait to see how much more good he and I do together in the future.
And if you are honoring someone that you have loved and lost and I can be of service, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’re all in this together. Thank you for seeing my heart.
Gail Anderson, CGO
(Chief Giving Officer)
Giving Back With Gail
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