Your gain: For you to better understand who the heck is writing these entries! Get to know me and my journey of loss on a more personal level. This entry will help you understand why I began Losses Become Gains, and why my losses have made me who I am.
Here’s the thing… I want your experience reading these entries, following LBG on Instagram, joining the LBG Faceboook group, and seeing the inspo I share… to be about how I can help you. The last thing I want to do is make this journal all about my losses.
Why I Feel Compelled to Share
The reason I want to share my journey and dig in deep is three fold:
- I want to be vulnerable with you. This feels like the right time to put my story and my journey out there. While it’s very scary in some ways (I fear judgment of others), I desperately want to help people going through loss. That’s more important than my ego right now. Losses can happen at any time. We often feel unprepared, and it can truly be life-altering. I want to help you through that.
- Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone who can empathize with the grief you may be feeling and hearing. Not to compare, but to connect on a deeper, more human level. Maybe you’ll connect with part of my story, and I can connect with yours, too!
- My losses have become very rooted (the roots are still growin’, too!) in who I am and my journey in this life. It has certainly changed aspects about who I am and how I process things, but I wouldn’t say for the worse. Far from it. I want for you to feel empowered. I want for you to feel strong, and I want for you to feel supported. I want you to know there’s a light at the end of that deep, dark tunnel.
What You’ll Get Out of It
Your time is valuable to me. As a reader or follower, I think it’s important for you to know why I’m even remotely capable of speaking on this subject matter. I like to think I’ve done the research, gone through some pretty devastating times, and tried and tested a whole lot of things. I want for you to feel like you can trust me and come to my channels for sound, relatable guidance and inspiration. If something doesn’t resonate or work for you, not to worry. I’m not here to convince you of a thing. I simply want to be a resource you can lean on to help you through a difficult, exhausting, heartbreaking time. Zero judgement.
Truthfully, the things I’ve journeyed through could fit in a pretty decent-sized book. If we were to break down every death, every breakup and a called-off engagement, every lost job, an ended friendship, you name it… you’d be here a while. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details for now and stick to the more recent events that led me to begin Losses Become Gains.
The (Brief) Backstory
Until the age of about 28, I hadn’t gone through a ton of trauma.
In terms of losing loved ones, I lost my grandmother when I was 10, a cousin in a terrible car accident when I was 12, and a grandfather around age 21 with whom I had a complicated relationship because we did not see eye to eye on some things (we won’t go there today).
While all of these were saddening and I grieved in my own way at the time, I was relatively young when the first two deaths happened and still pleasantly jaded with life. I didn’t understand the full weight of death yet. You’re a kid, life moves on kind of fast, right?
I want to preface my 28th year by saying my father, Greg Jordan, was diagnosed with prostate cancer around 2014 and journeyed with that for about six years. So much more on my dad to come, and he’ll make appearances in other entries, too. But it’s important to understand he was still very much in the thick of his illness when the first true, heartbreaking loss of someone very close to me occurred.
Loss 1: My Mom
My mom had dealt with Gerd—similar to acid reflux—for years. As 2017 and 2018 rolled around, she seemed to be having more and more trouble keeping food down. Almost in an alarming way, eventually. We still don’t know for sure if the Gerd led to the events I’m about to reveal but, given it affects the esophagus, I feel the need to put it out there in case this could be a cautionary tale to anyone else.
It was around May of 2019, and I remember getting a call from my dad as we were about to have dinner with John, my now-husband, and his family. He had to take my Mom to the ER because she was having a lot of trouble breathing. It was horrifying. Nothing could bring my mom down, guys. Nothing. Needless to say I was a crying mess in the restaurant parking lot, and there would be no focusing on that dinner.
Not long after that hospital visit, at 62 years of age she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She had an aggressive 10-inch tumor in her esophagus that was growing into her airway.
Simply put, it was caught way too late.
At one point during her decline, they made a last-minute decision to do a tracheostomy. She was only supposed to have a stent placed in her airway, which would have been her second one. We were not prepared for that, and I never heard her voice again. Even as I’m writing this, I still have to let that sink in sometimes. I swear, we as humans are so painfully unequipped for things in life sometimes it’s almost comical.
Anyway, as this entry would become FAR too long I won’t go into the specifics on the various treatments, hospital visits, and somewhat graphic nature of her decline because that’s not what I’m here for. I want to respect her privacy, even now. I’ll share more details here and there in later posts because I do want to shine some light on the realities of loss. But you know earlier when I said I hadn’t gone through a lot of trauma in my life up until that point? That was so shot to hell now it wasn’t even funny.
The evening before her passing, she was in the ICU and not doing well. In fact, she was on a ventilator through her tracheotomy at that point—so basically, life support—and we needed to make a decision. My dad and I were there the entire day, a Sunday, with her and both absolutely exhausted, traumatized, deeply grieving already, and not ready whatsoever to let her go. Not like this, and not without it on her terms. I think I even remember saying out loud that I wanted to give her a chance. A chance to pass when she was ready.
My dad headed home a little early to go take care of our dog, about a 35-40 minute drive from the hospital. I, too, was going to head home later on and if she made it okay through the night, we were going to decide when to let her go the following day.
As I was on my way home, around 4:15pm I got a call from the hospital that I should come back. Her blood pressure was slowly dropping—a telltale sign someone is on their way to the other side.
Getting “The Call”
I remember this moment so well because, as I was driving through this incredibly beautiful part of California, there was the most insanely vibrant double rainbow you’ve ever seen. I mean, at least 10 or more cars (including myself) were parked on the side of the road taking photos. It was when I was taking that photo that I got the call, and immediately turned around.
I made the decision to stay in the city where the hospital is located. To be near her that night in case things took an even more serious turn. There was no way I was leaving her or not having the ability to get to her quickly. I had to be with her when she passed. It was something I was called to do, I can’t explain it. It felt like she wanted me there, too.
John was able to bring some necessities for the night to the hotel where he stayed with me. At around 2:30am, we got a call that her BP was extremely low and it would likely be anytime now. We rushed over, and I can truly say I’ve never felt such panic, angst, and sorrow all at once. I was so terrified I would miss being there with her. But, she waited.
I sat by her side, holding her hand, crying, talking to her (the nurse said she could hear me, so I mustered what I could). Eventually, much to my misery, told her it was okay to leave whenever she felt it was time.
She had taken a somewhat sudden larger breath than normal, and looking back I truly think that was her last. With the ventilator still moving her body a little bit, it was hard to tell at the time. Moments later, the nurse came over to check on things and let me know in such a kind, loving way that she was gone.
By the way, if there are any nurses reading this—you all are god sends and so appreciated. That nurse that night was an angel, and I’ll never forget her kindness and compassion.
I had sat with her for about an hour before she passed away at 3:27am. Honestly, it was extremely peaceful. The most numb and raw I’ve ever felt in my existence, but it was calm.
After a few minutes, once I had a moment to gain an ounce of composure, I called my dad to let him know. The sound of his voice and what he said was nothing I’ll ever forget. He made his way to the hospital to say goodbye to his magnificent, beautiful best friend.
The emptiness you feel in a moment like that is truly indescribable unless you’ve been through it, which I understand makes trying to support someone going through loss so difficult at times. But when you feel like you’ve lost a piece of your soul forcefully ripped out right from your being, you’re never really the same.
From diagnosis to passing, it was six months of doctor’s appointments. Hours upon hours in hospitals. Life changing decisions to make with her health care. Learning how to treat and work with her trach, all while making sure my dad was still healthy and okay—and I kept working on top of this. And be a girlfriend. And a doggo mama. I had so little left to give to anything that wasn’t anything I just listed. Can you relate? If so, please take a moment to acknowledge how incredible and unbelievable your strength is. You’ve earned it.
Loss 2: My Relationship
As if watching one parent pass and being in the midst of watching another’s health decline wasn’t bad enough, my romantic relationship wasn’t in the best place. My now-husband, John—see? things work out how they’re meant to—and I had been dating a little over three years when my dad’s health was really declining. John had supported me through my mom’s diagnosis and passing. He was there with me in the hospital, patiently in the waiting room, as I was with her holding her hand as she took her last breath.
After my mom passed, my dad’s health began to worsen. We also had an aging dog that needed a fair amount of care, and I was still working full time. I had so little left in my cup to give.
Bottom line, intimacy (and I don’t just mean physically, though that’s an important part of relationships) dwindled. I was in a state of constant worry and care for both parents over a prolonged period which takes an incredible toll on the mind and body. I was carrying the biggest burden I had ever endured, and I had no idea what to do with it. This was all new territory.
Moreover and most simply… I was a sad shell of a person. I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t fulfilled, and I knew that. On a day to day basis I was keeping it together and as “happy” as I could be. I mean, I found reasons to smile. But I was living for everyone but myself and trying to keep my head above water, because drowning wasn’t an option. My dad needed me and I couldn’t be weak for him, so other parts of my life suffered. I did what I could at the time.
The Break Up
So, we broke up on a Sunday night. I left our apartment we shared with the intention of fully moving out in the coming days. There was no going back as far as I was concerned because, ironically, John had told me he didn’t see a future with me. I was devastated, because that was all I saw with him. More posts to come on this subject matter for sure.
I arrived at the condo where my dad lived, about 20 minutes away, and his health was poor enough that I had to call an ambulance that very night. Seriously, you can’t make this up.
That had been the second time I had to call the ambulance for him. Unbeknownst to me, his prostate cancer had begun to spread to his back and brain. He was not only not acting like himself, but he couldn’t speak well and couldn’t get out of bed. I knew we had a major problem. Really, I knew before that but subconsciously, I don’t even think I let my mind go there yet. In my mind, there was no possible way I was on the path of losing my dad now. It was way too soon. Watching medics wheel my sweet father into an ambulance, by myself, literally coming off a break up just hours before… It was surreal.
The Break Down
Once they left and I watched the ambulance drive away, I was beside myself. I completely broke down. My god… I barely had time to grieve the loss of my mom and here my dad is disintegrating physically and mentally before my eyes. Even if someone (like myself) warns you about what you might experience, nothing, nothing prepares you for seeing a parent or loved one like that.
I’ve only revealed this to a few people in my life, but I walked back inside and grabbed my mom’s box of ashes from the window sill. Collapsed onto the living room floor, and cried some of the hardest, guttural tears I’ve ever cried in my life. It was a rock bottom I had never felt, and my dad wasn’t even “gone” yet. A loneliness I can barely put words to.
Back to the relationship for a moment, though. Breakup be damned. My dad—the other half of my soul, my protector—needed my help. What I’m going to say next may sound a little funny, but I hope the fact that John is now my husband is an indication that this is true—that breakup was meant to happen for a reason. So much more to come on this and the loss of a relationship, but let me tell you something right now. The people that are meant to be in your life and stay there, will. Cliché, I know. Let me tell you from experience though, it’s a fact that holds weight.
Loss 3: My Dad
Before I knew it, just weeks later this highly intelligent, Shakespeare loving, painfully giving and loving man was sitting in his hospital bed telling me he was ready to go be with my mom. I even have it recorded because, as I learned from my mom’s journey, I wasn’t going to miss opportunities to revisit their voices in their last weeks.
If there was ever one of those classic “died of a broken heart” scenarios, this was it. Watching it all happen in front of me shattered mine a little, too. His wife of over 30 years and she just endured one of the most brutal forms of cancer, and she was gone. We were all totally lost. He was still my dad, he’d still make jokes and tell me how much he loved me as he always did. But he was really never the same. All I remember saying in that moment was, “it’s okay dad, I understand.” Because I did.
I think it was one of the most selfless gifts I could have given him—to tell him to go be with her. To know I’d be okay, and truly mean it. It was the most beautiful, freeing thing I could have done for myself, too. I released and allowed myself to begin grieving it all, because there’s something to be said about grieving someone or something before they’re actually “gone”. That’s anticipatory grief at its finest, and I’ll definitely dive into that topic in another post.
I spent some incredibly special quality time with him the day before he passed. I tried to be present and simply hold his hand, because he really wasn’t “with it” at that point and was past having a conversation. Took it all in. I stared at my hand with his and tried to ingrain in my brain the feeling of it, as I had with my mom. To this day, I can close my eyes and take myself back there and feel their hands exactly as I did then. Now, it doesn’t even make me sad to the point of crying. It makes me feel closer to them than ever.
I lived just a few minutes away from the facility, and in the middle of the night they called to inform me he had passed away just moments before. Thankfully I was able to get there quickly and could hold his hand one last time. Unlike my mom, my dad was a more private, albeit incredibly beautiful, compassionate old soul.
That said, there’s no way he would have wanted me in the room with him to see him go, nor do I think I could have endured watching another parent take their last breath earth side. One of the things I loved most about him? He knew that—demanded that—and understood that. I like to think the universe was looking out for both of us at that moment.
My dad left us at age 74 on July 13, 2020 at 3:23am. The same day as my father-in-law’s birthday. Life can be really funny and serendipitous sometimes.
One connection I’ve always found interesting if you didn’t catch it—he and my mom passed away five minutes apart. My mom at 3:27am, dad at 3:23am. Do with that what you will!
Loss 4: My 19-year-old Dog, Princess
Nope, I’m not done with the deaths yet. That year of complete and utter turmoil was brightened by my Bichon Frise, Princess. She had been living with my parents, but after my mom’s illness really started worsening, they weren’t in a state to take care of her. Luckily for me, she was now living with John and me. He took her in as his own, and it was a light in the gloomy circumstances of life.
By the way… I know the timeline of this is a little wonky. Long story short, John and I started communicating and reconnecting not long before my dad died.
My dad always liked John, and he was sad to hear about the breakup the day it happened. Ya know, the same day I had to call the ambulance for him. It was a DAY, y’all.
When I was able to tell him we were finding our way back to each other, he was so happy for us. I think it made him feel better about passing, too, honestly. Like I would be in good hands and he could release some worry about me being okay when he’s gone. To this day it makes me light up a little knowing he would be smiling seeing how far we’ve come.
The Dog, The Myth… The Princess
It was pure joy having her with me full-time again. We picked her out from a Pennsylvania pet store when I was 10, and she was the apple of my family’s eye. I mean, hello… she’s named Princess, for god sake. Go be 10 years old and name a white fluffy dog, though.
She was 17 at the time she began living with John and I full time, and I could cry with how thankful I am to have spent the last years fully present in her life. She was my “sweet little baby girl” with about 18 different nicknames. An “old lady”, as we’d lovingly refer to her. She couldn’t go up stairs to save her life due to arthritis, but she walked quite well and even still trotted and pranced with ease most of the time. She couldn’t hear or see like she once could, but certainly wasn’t deaf or blind. Frankly, she was hanging in there really well.
Around 11 months after my dad passed, I took her to the vet to get some usual medications and they insisted she needed a rabies shot, which needless to say didn’t go over well with me. I conceded, and she had an adverse reaction to it with multiple seizures over the course of two days. Needless to say, the profound anger and fury I felt toward that Veterinarian was absolutely immeasurable. He got several livid phone calls and earfuls over the next few days, to say the least.
I have regretted few things more in my life than making the decision to give her that shot, despite my hesitation. I didn’t listen to my gut, and I’ve been pained with the thought of, “what if I hadn’t done that to her, would she still be here?”. It still haunts me to think or write about it. There are days I still allow guilt to creep in, but it’s something I have to work to release. That’s another subject to unravel at a later time.
She never fully came out of it from her last couple of seizures, and we had to make the excruciating decision to put her down in the early hours of June 18, 2021.
My Immediate Family… Gone
I was completely gutted. In a near-inhuman way, I was bawling into John’s chest in the emergency pet clinic parking lot, not believing this was my life. I had lost every single core family member of mine in less than two years. My mind was like, “nope, this has to be rock bottom now.”
I remember John driving us home and I was too cried out at that point and had moved into shock. I just stared out the window, deep in grief. Unsure of how I was going to come out of it this time.
I felt “cooked, done, fried”, as my mom would say. I mean, seriously… how much can one person take?
The Beginning of a Very Long Healing
Well, if you’ve made it through all of that, if nothing else I hope you understand how capable the heart is of healing. At the very least, I’m here. I have my tough days, and I have had exponentially more crippling days. But I also have days full of beauty and laughter. It’s rarely been easy, but man… have I learned. I’ve grown, I’ve done the work, and I’ve been inspired. Do I still wish my family was here? More than anyone could imagine. Do I know more ebbs and flows will come, even on my best days? Absolutely.
I just went through two wedding ceremonies without them. A marriage I always envisioned my parents (and Princess) attending. God willing if we’re blessed with kids, I can’t imagine how I’ll feel then, either. I never thought my parents wouldn’t be here to hold my children here in the physical world. To watch them grow, learn, and evolve as I have.
It’s a process, and you’ll hear me say “journey” a lot because that’s truly what it is. For any of us, for any loss we endure—not just death.
A journey is filled with scenic routes and magnificent views. There are road closures, rock slides, torrential downpours and detours that you don’t expect. Whether you’re here because you’ve already experienced a loss, are simply curious, or if you’re seeking guidance on an impending split in the road… you’re welcome and safe here. I’m also deeply sorry for what you’re enduring.
I truly hope you find the content at LBG useful and beneficial. I look forward to helping you come out of it stronger with more peace of mind than ever, because you can! You’re so capable of this.
The Creation of LBG
The idea of Losses Become Gains didn’t come to me for a while, truthfully. I had a lot of soul searching and feeling better to do first. A lot of “finding myself”.
It came to fruition about a year and a half after my dad passed. There were two gnawing feelings that wouldn’t go away.
- I was meant to go through all of this loss for a reason, it just couldn’t be for nothing.
- I feel called to help people cope and get through their grief. That’s really it. I feel your pain, and there can never be enough shoulders (even figurative ones) to lean on in this world.
After some time, I knew I had to take some action. Enter—Losses Become Gains.
A founding principle of LBG is to make this process as human-to-human as possible, because it’s a very human thing to experience loss. But there’s more to me than my story of grief, loss, and finding my gains. Just as you are so much more than your loss, or any loss you may endure.
I hope you feel compelled, inspired and encouraged to check out the rest of the Journal entries, which you can access below. Again, if you made it this far—a heartfelt thank you for listening to my story. I can’t wait to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, and through entries like this one.