7/15/15

Of Life and Death

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First, I'm going to politely ask that people don't pin photos from this post to Pinterest. These are clearly not intended for fashion inspiration or anything other than sharing with friends and processing my own grief. I know despite my request I can't control that and it may still happen, but I'm asking anyway. I have struggled a bit trying to figure out how to come back from my unplanned, extended blog absence in light of what has happened in this month. I don't feel like I can just jump back in and go back to my normal posting routine without mentioning the elephant in the room, so to speak. If you don't follow me on Instagram you may have missed this post explaining why I was gone. In short, two of my nephews (the sons of two of my brothers) were killed in a helicopter crash on July 1. It's been a tragic and heartbreaking experience for my family, and spending time with them in attempt to comfort each other has been my number one priority this month.
Hudson & Hayden

I'm finally back home and trying to get back to my everyday life. But it's probably not surprising that this experience caused me to do a great deal of reflecting on many aspects of my life. Each of my brothers spoke at the funeral or burial for their son last week and their words have been weighing on my heart ever since.
With my brothers - back in the day in good times

"Don't make your To-Do List more important than your To-Love List"
I know I'm guilty of this often, especially since starting a blog. When I do something I want to do it well, so I've spent a lot of time trying to be a better blogger and keep up with quality, consistent content as well as the blogging community. Unfortunately I think at times that meant I wasn't being the best mother, wife, sister, daughter or friend to people on my "To Love" list. There will most likely be changes here as I try to re-prioritize things to make time for what matters most.

And now...staying close in hard times

"Don't let this tragedy define you."
My brother intended this remark for his son's high school classmates, but I needed to hear it just as much. In dealing with grief and sorrow, it was easy for me to feel bitter or jealous of people who don't seem to have a care in the world beyond what outfit to wear or who didn't get a rose (i.e. exactly the type of thing I normally post about here). I'm trying not to let those feelings take root in my heart and make me a bitter, angry person that life could be so unfair. I am trying to let myself be happy in the simple things I did before and to stay focused on what I do have to be grateful for rather than what we lost.

With my incredibly supportive sisters and sister-in-law (center, Hayden's mom) 

This post is far more personal than anything I've ever shared or really intended to ever share.  I may not leave it up permanently, but I wanted to share it now to help myself move forward and for my friends who have been so incredibly supportive and caring of me throughout this ordeal who have asked how I'm doing. Those friends have helped me laugh my way out of a very public ugly-cry meltdown in the airport, those who sent emails and text messages to check on me and left supportive blog and Instagram comments and who called me or let me call them at all hours of the night. And in the process of writing this post I even got a flower delivery (pic below) from two amazing friends who just can't help being so nice. Each little bit helped me get through and helped me feel like could help support my brothers and their wives and other children in their loss.

Thank you Caryl & Rachelle!

I haven't quite figured out what changes I want to make to keep my priorities in order, and I'm honestly not worried about finalizing those details at this point. I just know that the blog world and the To-Do List are always there when I have time, but my To-Love List can't wait until tomorrow because it might not be there.

CONVERSATION

66 comments:

  1. So happy to read this post and my heart aches so much for you and your family. I love the idea of having a to-love list, cherishing our relationships with our friends and family is far more important than anything else. Sending you the biggest hug!

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    1. Thank you, Rachelle! You've been such a great friend and support through this and everything else!

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  2. Loved reading this post Gina, truly inspirational. The idea of focusing on a to-love list is so important. I think this post will touch so many people and remind them of what is truly important in this world. Sending you and your family positive thoughts and best wishes.
    XO
    Carrie and Stacy
    CS Gems

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    1. Thank you so much, ladies! I truly appreciate your words and positive thoughts!

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this during such a heartbreaking time. That a To-Love list must be more important than a To-Do list is a a good one for everyone to hear.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, Megan!

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  4. These are such important things to remember. Thanks for sharing them in such a hard time! It's always a great reminder that some things in life are more important than working overtime or putting in hours on our blogs. Something I definitely have to work on as well. <3

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Gretchen! I'm sure we all can do a little better at times. :)

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  5. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Focus on your Love List and we'll all be here when you want to return.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support, Rin!

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  6. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Focus on your Love List and we'll all be here when you want to return.

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  7. So sorry for your loss, I only recently found your blog and thank you for sharing during this time, your post is an important reminder for us all. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words!

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  10. Gina, it's so true - often people spend a lot of their effort and attention on superficial things ... Thinking they'll always have time later on to spend on the people they took for granted. But whether through tragedy or just the swift movement of time, that saved moment may never come. Thank you for the much needed reminder to keep our priorities straight. You're such a thoughtful writer, that we'll always be here waiting for however much or little you want to share here. Sending you lots of hugs. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

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    1. p.s. Sorry for the triple post - my phone hates me!

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    2. Thank you so much Zeba for the compliments and the kind, supportive, meaningful words!

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  11. Gina, my heart aches for you and your family. Thank you for taking the time to share this very inspirational post with your readers. I am so guilty of this and appreciate this important reminder to value the people in my life more than any "thing". Please take good care of yourself.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori, for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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  12. This was so inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My heart just aches for you and your family. Wishing you all strength, peace and comfort.

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  13. My heart aches for you and your family. It's so easy to take your loved ones for granted. Having a to-love list is important to keep your life in perspective and appreciate every day.

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

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    1. Thank you so much for your continued friendship and support, Jill!

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  14. I have been out of town for a couple of weeks and didn't know what had happened. Thanks for being so open and honest, when it is most difficult. One of my favorite quotes is "Faith makes things possible, not easy." May the love of God be with you during the extremely difficult time. My heart aches for you, and I will pray for you and all your family. Also, thank you for the reminder to love. We get so caught up in the craziness of life, and we forget to stop and love and appreciate the details of life. I definitely needed this reminder today. ~Alicia, AZ

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    1. Thank you so much for your words of kindness and support!

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  15. I only just heard the news the other day, and my heart is breaking for you and your family *hugs*. I know there aren't any words to help you feel better, but just know I'm here if you ever need to vent/talk. I love the idea of a "to love" list instead of a "to do" list.

    xoxo Kate

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  16. Sending you love, warmth, and hugs in this difficult time. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much for the virtual love. :)

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  17. Gina,
    I've never commented on your blog before, but I am a regular reader. I just wanted to express my sincere condolences to your and your family. I was wondering why you hadn't been posting lately, and I am so sorry to hear about why. Your post brought tears to my eyes, so I can't even begin to imagine how you must feel. Sending lots of hugs and well wishes your way.
    Sincerely,
    Another Gina

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment today, Gina! Thank you for your condolences and continued support as a reader. It truly means a lot!

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  18. Gina I am so very sorry once again and I know that I can't say or do anything that will take this pain away and I really wish I could help. This was beautifully written and you are so right. The to love list is so much more important than the to do list. If there is anything I can do.. ever.. let me know.

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    1. Thank you Kristen! You've already done so much just being a friend and making me laugh and smile when I really needed it. :)

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  19. Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts, Gina. Still praying for you and your family. I cannot even imagine the heartache your entire family is going through. Hugs to you.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, Jennie!

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  20. I've been checking your blog daily to see if you had started posting again and I'm very happy (and touched) that you did today. What an incredibly beautiful reminder to all of us Gina. It's so easy to take things for granted, especially those that are closest to you. Loved ones sometimes take a backseat to the chaos of life, and we forget what's really important. That's why I get irked when I see bloggers that just encourage a ton of frivolous spending. Materialism is fun of course, fashion and blogging are fun, but it's not that important. If it is, people need a reality check. Thank you for this. I'm sure it took a lot of thought and I'm sure it was hard to put this all out there during such a difficult time. I hope you will find peace and healing soon, and I hope you know that you are most likely helping others through this platform. Hugs and kisses...can't wait to see you Monday :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Noelle! You are so right about how easy it is to get caught up in the trivial stuff. I know I do it myself! I am really looking forward to our visit on Monday!

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  21. You are in my prayers, and I understand the difficulty. My grandpa passed away a couple weeks ago very suddenly, and I took an absence from blogging as well. It just was not important at the time, and family is always very important to cling to in these hard times. I am praying for you as you sort through all of this confusion and try to be there for your brothers and for your family!
    -Hannah
    www.sweeterthanserenity.com

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    1. Hannah, I'm so sorry you are going through a difficult loss at this time as well. Thank you for your prayers and all the best to your family as you work on healing and coping with the loss of your grandfather!

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  22. Thank you for sharing this very personal time with us, words can't describe the deep sadness I feel for you and your family. You are definetly in my prayers and please take your time to deal with this situation the best you can as there is no best way .... My deepest condolences.
    Nora
    www.jacketsociety.com

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Nora! I appreciate your prayers and condolences and your continued support!

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  23. I can't imagine how hard it was to write this post, but I really appreciated it. I know that blogging about fashion and outfits and shopping is so light and airy, but when we all interact on a day to day basis, we really do end up investing emotion into each other - even more so with me to you because I feel like I have the privilege of *knowing* you outside of your blog. And this post allows us all to properly grieve with you as our way to offer you support during this ridiculously terrible time. I definitely agree with prioritizing what is important since you don't know what tomorrow will hold, if it even comes. Ultimately it's balance. Taking care of yourself and doing what you love, but not at the expense of losing that engagement and relationship and moments with your loved ones.

    You've touched our lives regardless of whether or not you feel your content isn't always about the most important facts of life. Because as others have said - you're such a thoughtful writer, and your personality and authenticity is why we all love you! Frankly, your outfits are just an added bonus!

    And you are so welcome for the flowers! It's the least we could do from such a distance. Love you, Gina!
    Carylee | more pieces of me

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    1. Thank you so much my friend! You are just far too kind and so incredibly supportive! I wouldn't have lasted this long in blogging without your support. And yeah, it's trivial and fluffy, but fun! And I still think it's okay to have fun. I'm just working on the balance part. :) Love you lots and am so grateful for your friendship!

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  24. I can't imagine how tough life is after such a tragedy. It is so true to focus on your To Love list and we should all apply to our daily lives. I want you to know that even though what we talk about is fashion and very superficial, I feel I have gotten to know you as a person through reading your posts and I am sure you've made a positive impact in our lives. Sending you hugs!

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words, Alice!

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  25. This is a beautiful post and an important reminder about what is important in life. Love It actually makes me re-evaluate some of the blogs I am reading... seems so trivial in the grand scheme of things. I will be making it a priority to make my to-love list significantly longer than my to-do list. Thanks for the real-life reminder.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment today! I also have to re-evaluate how I spend my time with my own blog and blogs I follow. I think there's still a time and place for fun and fluff in life...just finding the right balance is where I want/need to improve!

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  26. Gina, this is so beautifully written. You are such an inspiring person. I continue to think about you and your family. You are so right, we can't sweat the small stuff; life is too precious to waste even a second on trivial nonsense. "Love hard" is my moto! Hugs from Pennsylvania!

    Missy D.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Missy! You have been so sweet and supportive since I "met" you last year and it means a lot that you would take the time to stop by and comment. I love your motto!

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  27. Beautiful post, Gina. I have tears in my eyes and my heart aches for you and your family. I pray for you guys every day. We had a similar incident (but not family member) last year and one thing I can say it that it is truly amazing the grace that comes from a situation like this...like you said-- the kind words, flowers, the To- Love list. I know your heart feels empty, but you seem to have an incredible support system and it will slowly fill up again. Stay strong, girl. XOXOXO

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    1. Thank you so much Casey! I'm sorry you have experienced a similar loss. It has definitely taught me a lot of compassion for people who have gone through this and most definitely a new perspective.

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  28. Gina, my heart aches for you and your family as I read this. Thank you for being so open about this very difficult time in your life. There is always hope and I'm glad you are focusing on what's important and looking to grow from this. What you said about not making your to-do list more important than your to-love list is so true. I have to remind myself of this every day. You have been and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind, genuine comment, Cynthia. You have always been so supportive and truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers!

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  29. Gina, this is such an inspiring and beautifully written post. I am so sorry that you and your family have had to go through this terrible tragedy. And I appreciate your new perspective. It has made me look at my family and truly appeciate what I have and to cherish every single moment. Stay strong and take your time doing what you need to do to figure out your next steps with blogging. We will still be here :-)

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    1. Thank you so much for the nice words and just for your friendship in general! I'm so glad to have gotten to know you through blogging and always appreciate your comments and support!

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  30. Very sad to read about the tragedy that have happened to you and your family. I will keep you in my prayers.

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  31. I am so glad you shared this. Thanks for letting us in. I know sometimes it feels strange to share such personal things on the internet for all the world to see, but those of us who know you want to know this part of you too. I have been thinking about you so much, so I am glad to have an update and know how you are processing and working through such a terrible tragedy. Your post serves as a good reminder to all of us. Blogging (or insert other life distraction) is never as important as the people we love. You do whatever you need and make whatever adjustments you need to in order to find the right balance for you.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Amy Ann! And you're right...it really is a peculiar feeling to share something so personal in such a public way. It's very easy to get priorities out of order and I hope this sets mine straight for quite some time!!

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  32. Beautifully written, thoughtful article. Thank you for sharing. Your point 'Don't make you to-do-list more important than you to-love-list" is especially thought provoking and true, and is something everyone struggles with. You are still in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers, Amy!

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  33. Gina, really sorry and sad you and your extended family are going through such a tragic loss. As someone who is not a parent yet but in the throes of it, I can only imagine the pain, suffering and shock the families are going through. Thank you for sharing this post with us strangers and making us a small part of your grief, I Hope you all find strength and motivation to continue life slowly in the direction it is intended to. I sincerely hope your nephews rest in peace and find love and joy across the rainbow. Stay strong for yourself and your extended family.

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    1. Parent or not you are spot on about the complex feelings of shock and grief that suddenly overwhelmed our lives. Thank you very much for your kind, thoughtful comment!

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  34. Thanks for sharing. You were so kind to think of me - and I appreciate your sincere words regarding the loss of my dad so much. I can relate so much to what you wrote - death changes our perspective, especially when it is sudden and unexpected. The world looks different - so, so different. One thing I learned through the process - is to grieve - even if we feel like we shouldn't cry anymore or we should be moving on. The pain never goes away - it changes week by week, day by day, but it is always there in some form - and you will never be over it. And, don't think you need to move on - before you are ready (and don't let others tell you to move on). You can stay where you are at grieving the loss - and being sad - as long as you want and need to. I am thinking of you and your family!!!

    Lisa
    Daily Style Finds

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Lisa. You are so right about the world looking so very different now. I admit I envy those who have never experienced a tragic loss...it was a nice, happy bubble to live in while it lasted. I appreciate you sharing your feelings and experiences - it's been very helpful to learn from people who can (unfortunately) relate so well to this kind of grief!

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