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Letting Go: Moving On After Loss
By Casey Lee

I grew up in a picturesque family with two parents madly in love with each other, two beautiful older sisters, and a comfortable middle-class Midwestern upbringing. Because my sisters are respectively nine and eleven years older than I, they were married and had children before I reached that point in life; I was the Maid of Honor in both of their weddings and enjoyed every moment of being there for them during these monumental moments in their lives. My parents prided themselves on being doting grandparents, and I devoted more nights to coloring “My Little Pony” pictures and watching cartoons with my nieces and nephews than I did to partying when I was an undergrad.

Despite these happy times, my sisters were gone from my life by the time I turned twenty-two. There was not a tragic car wreck, a devastating battle with cancer, or a freak accident. In fact, as far as I know, my sisters are both healthy and happy as can be, but they have no contact with my parents or myself. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | family, loss, relationships, siblings
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One Last Kindness
By Billie Criswell

To some people the thought of cleaning up after a person has died, especially when that person was taken at a young age or of unnatural causes, is a horrifying one. Indeed, there are many people who make their living doing this for families who find themselves unable to do such a thing. This was precisely the conversation I found myself engaged in with a friend recently. My friend works with a clean-up and restoration company and they recently expanded to include crime scene clean up a la “Sunshine Cleaning.” (A movie where the two sisters clean up crime scenes.) Read more

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COMMENT (1) | addiction, drugs, loss, relationships, siblings
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From Ukraine With Love
By Diane Schachter

It is a result of coincidence that I am writing this story about a unique family.   I met Cathy while chatting at a local dog park this past spring.  She spontaneously shared that she and her husband Martin had adopted five children from Ukraine.  “Five kids, that’s a lot of kids,” I remember saying.  But it was not until the ride home that it dawned on me that their story could possibly be a story for Thrive In Life. Too late, I had no phone number or knowledge as to where she lived. She was not present during any subsequent visits to the park.  Now, here is where the coincidence part comes in.  In autumn, I was taking the bus to the airport and just before I was about to dismount, I overheard a man saying to the person beside him that he and his wife had adopted five children from Ukraine.  My antennae went up and I quickly asked if his wife’s name was Cathy, and could I have their phone number.  He looked at me quizzically and provided the information on a small borrowed piece of paper as we exited the bus. Read more

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COMMENTS (7) | adoption, children, parenting, siblings
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How Smiling Meditation Changed My Life
By Billie Criswell

I have always been the type of person that one might associate with meditation…..or  New Age healing and Eastern healing concepts. I was even, at one time, a self-proclaimed “hippy.” But the truth was, I had never so much as tried to quiet my mind– I was too busy being busy to even ponder the concept of slowing down.

At a certain point, though, it seemed that meditation came to me much as other things had in life: on a whim, as though I invented the concept. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | loss, meditation, renewal, spiritual, thriving
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From The Ashes: The Phoenix Rises
By Billie Criswell

My relationship with my stepsister, Laurie, has been a complicated one from its conception. I was six or seven years old when we met; she was two years older than I. I remember being so overjoyed to receive the news that in one fell swoop I would be getting the father I longed for and the big sister I wished for. It seemed to my childhood mind that everything was going to be perfect when my mother remarried.

…of course, as an adult, I know now that things don’t always work out perfectly, and that was the way it happened with our new, blended family. Laurie carried a lot of pain in her young heart. Read more

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COMMENT (0) | relationships, renewal, siblings
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My Big Brother
By Derek Thompson

It is still hard to take in that my brother, David, has died. Not just in the hospital again, or having switched the phone off for two days because he doesn’t feel like talking, but irrevocably gone. I am the last of the line and all the family memories come crashing to a halt with me.

Sibling rivalry seems such a gentle term for the battles we fought and re-fought in an effort to establish separate identities. Read more

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COMMENTS (6) | family, relationships, siblings
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