Fighting back our own Pandemic

By: Brittany DeMarco
Friday, April 17, 2020


 

2020 has been the worst year ever! And I started this blog before the CoronaVirus.

 

6 weeks before the current widespread pandemic, I lost the matriarch of my family. The keeper of my family's secrets; the GOOGLE of DIY remedies before DIY and GOOGLE were mainstream terms. She was from the generation of zero filter and no participation ribbons. Her warmth was infectious, and her stories were grand. There are countless memories and qualities that made her who she was to the world, but to me she was my Grandmother, Mimi.


The day before my Mimi passed, she was on track to being discharged from the hospital. Our last visit consisted of laughter and a promise to her that I would come see her in my ‘godmother’ dress. I described the details of the dress and showed her pictures of the model. She then blurted out in Mimi fashion, "is that one of your rentals?" I miss her bluntness. As I walked out of her hospital room, we shared a silent moment together; I waved goodbye and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

February 1st 2020, I lost my grandmother. It was also the baptismal of my grandmother’s first and only [at the time] great-grandchild. Her [nearly] entire family gathered for this happy and holy occasion honoring our newest family member in becoming a child of God. Little did we know this same day our matriarch would become God’s newest angel.

 As we learned our Mimi was depleting from this Earth, our giant family began rushing to the hospital; one by one we snuck our way to 35 people in a single intensive care room. Still in shock, it didn't dawn on me that this was really it. She never got to see my outfit, not that I care. Instead, the clatter of my heels on the hospital floor in hopes to see her one last time haunts me. Seeing her lifeless in the hospital bed was not a good memory. I am thankful it was not my last. 

Our family created a celebration funeral atmosphere filled with everything Mimi. She laid peacefully with her iconic fluffy hair, rosy highlights of her cheekbones and defined nose. She was surrounded by her familiar scent, a perfume she's been using way before I was born! All around us we listened to her favorite music, and journeyed down memory lane.
 
As we closed her casket, we sent photos and items with her to remember us goodbye. In her honor we poured “just a smidge” of wine on her grave, before leaving the flower filled grave. It was sad, but it was beautiful. We celebrated her life.

I began a healthy grieving process. I knew I was going to be OK….But, sometimes OK is not always OK…Life creeps up on you. 

It was only a few weeks before my grandmother's passing when I loss another essential person in my life, my Great Aunt Mary Ann. Mary Ann was hands down the most authentic, outgoing and spectacular person I ever met. The world misses her spunky, larger than life personality. Two important women in my life gone within a month of one another.

2020, is matter a fact an awful year for my heart. Dates, however, do not discriminate against how long grief will last, and when it will creep up on you.  Looking back, my heart wasn't fully healed from 2019. I experienced the loss of 3 loved ones unexpectedly, in a matter of months.  Losing my grandmother was my breaking point. 

Those following weeks my grief took my energy and purpose away. Days were blurred. I was constantly eating, drinking in excess and sleeping whenever I could. 

After one month on autopilot, I stared at myself in the reflection....what am I doing? Here I am a funeral director whose mission is to help people struggling through their own lost and I can't even take my own advice. I felt like a fraud.

 On March 1st, 2020, began to escape my own demons. If we can be our own worst enemy, we can be our own salvation.

 I’m a funeral director, not a scientist. Yet, from experience and basic research, there are 3 important hormones released in your body  when you workout: endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Two fitness groups in my area (518-upstate New York) helped progress my health, happiness, and gave me REAL human interaction again. Pure Barre Saratoga and Metabolic. They became a sanctuary for me; giving me a reason to start my day or finish it out strong.

When I tie my sneakers and mentally prepare for the challenge, it gave me purpose. Happiness in form of dopamine continued through the power of music; especially energetic jams to hype you up! Along with the social interaction that doesn't come from a computer screen, I felt like I was me again.

Two weeks into my journey, it was March 14th, 2020, and a tidal wave crashed over us New Yorkers.

Today is April 17th, 2020, life is nowhere near normal. At this point, the term normal should be depleted from life all together. I won’t lie and say all things are dandy. I am only human. And this pandemic has taken us all down. 

Yes, I have stared at CNN for hours contemplating if this is in fact the end of the world. Yes, I have ate my entire kitchen in one day. Yes, I have binged watched Tiger King and enjoyed it. Yes, I have started a puzzle and left it high and dry on the table for weeks untouched. Yes, I realized that my husband and I are not perfect; we will never laugh at the notion of being stuck on a deserted island together... Sorry Gilligan!

 Even though this blog has evolved into something else. I hope my open honesty can help ease whatever you are going through during these unprecedented times. The self care lessons I learned after losing my loved ones may help us navigate this new life in quarantine.

1.   Do not start your day with the news. Instead, begin it with music, play your favorite jams while stretching, and be mindful of your breathing. YOU ARE ALIVE. THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL GIFT

2.   Only follow trusted resources for your news. Stay off SOCIAL MEDIA for information.

 
3.   Vitamin C and 15 minutes of sunlight MAY protect you from COVID-19 infection, but it DEFINITELY helps you with your daily well-being.

 

4.   CBD is a healthy alternative to reduce stress, anxiety and help with sleep.

 

5.   Support local businesses because they will always support you.

 

6.   Diabetes and impaired immune systems are underlying conditions that trigger serious COVID-19 infections. Please be aware that alcohol consumption and your food choices affect your health.

 

7.   Freedom of speech is our right, but have respect for your fellow Americans. We ALL are living through this unprecedented time in history.

 

8.   Safely connect with family and friends through technology. Remind one another that distance makes the heart grow fonder and that we will come back together stronger than ever.
 

 9.   If you are working from home or staying safe at home, please make time for you. Life is complicated right now, but we have more time. Whether you have kids, or not, you and your family deserve the positive effect that Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin can do for you.

 

10.   Do not take your days in quarantine for granted. Start a project. Read a good book. Learn a new skill. Write that book you always said you would write. If you have a family, cherish them. There are many families separated right now. And some people are quarantined alone. Or write a blog, that becomes something you didn't intend.
 

People often say “it’s greener on the other side”, but right now we are all sitting on the same brown, crusty grass. This pandemic is affecting us all, no one's heart is safe. All we can do right now is make lemonade out of lemons.

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