The new year comes with the dreaded month of Michelle’s passing. It’s now 30 years since her fatal car accident.
Years ago I started a group on FB “Remembering Michelle.” It started as a way of reaching out to family and friends for their memories and pictures of Michelle. It’s expanded to include new-found friends who never knew her but now can feel her essence through shared posts.
The anticipation of writing and reaching out doesn’t come easily. Each time I write about Michelle publicly, whether in a COPE newsletter or on FB, I feel my vulnerability.
Michelle exists inside of me where she feels safe and alive in our new relationship.
It’s during these days, when my feelings are on the surface, that I struggle to find words adequate to express the depth of my love and the loss of her. There are no words to describe this reality—the void, my ache, and longing for Michelle. I can only attempt to find balance and try to fill myself with all the ways I connect with her.
It’s a time of many complex, conflicting emotions. When I’m able to find the courage to write about Michelle and share my feelings, I’m always amazed by the energy that comes back to me through close friends and all the people who care. The gift is knowing her lasting impression…feeling the love and endless connections.
Lilly Julien is COPE’s Founder and President Emerita
My Dream for COPE
“I’m okay, Mommy” were words I desperately needed to hear after the sudden and tragic loss of my daughter, Michelle. I heard my daughter’s voice speaking to me in a dream—“You’re the ones who aren’t okay and you need to reach out and help each other.” Then I woke with a vision of grieving parents and siblings coming together for emotional support.
I could have named the foundation for my daughter. It would have been extraordinary for me to see her name, “The Michelle Julien Foundation.” But Michelle’s words to me were that we needed to reach out and help each other. COPE is about all our children, our grief and our devastating losses. COPE is about all the parents and families living with the loss of a child.
COPE, an acronym for Connecting Our Paths Eternally, is about connecting and helping each other living with our grief and finding ways to feel connected eternally with those we love.
Giving Tuesday is only one day of the 365 days that COPE is committed to helping grieving families…
To help ourselves—to help each other—to give thanks to COPE, its staff, facilitators, and donors for the support of each other.
PLEASE DONATE NOW and help COPE continue to be there for grieving families.
My thoughts are with each of you during this holiday season.
With love and gratitude,
I recently came across a grief exercise I did many years ago which helped me trust in my intuition and its potential to guide me.
The exercise was to answer these 5 questions with the first thoughts that came to mind.
1) What have I lost?
My child. My baby.
Then the thought…
I’m still here. She’s still with me.
2) What are my strengths?
My ability to believe. My spirituality. My faith.
3) What is still left?
Her energy. Her love. Her essence. Our connection.
4) What do I need to leave behind?
The message that there’s something more than we can see.
5) What do I wish to keep?
This energy. This faith. This connection.
The exercise expanded my thinking to new possibilities for thought communication and flow of consciousness from a higher perspective. I didn’t know from where my thoughts were coming. However, it helped me cope.
My thoughts go out to all of you during the Passover and Easter holidays.
Wishing everyone peace and continued good health.
My Self-Meditation for the Holidays
Release any emotions not serving me.
Release anything burdening me.
Breathe in peace.
Breathe in connection.
Breathe in love.
The breath is a bridge connecting heaven and earth.
For many of us February is synonymous with Valentine’s Day, a day celebrating love.
Love is the other side of grief. It’s because we love so deeply that we grieve so intensely.
For so many years I was in deep sorrow after my daughter passed and then alone after my husband passed.
I had lost the significance of the day, equating Valentine’s Day with happiness and having someone to love.
I’ve since learned that—
Love is an energy that can’t be destroyed.
Love is everywhere. Inside us as well as outside us.
Love lives in all dimensions.
Love connects us eternally to those we love on earth and those who live in our heart and soul.
Dear COPE families,
For as long as my daughter is gone, the New Year has been associated with January, the month that Michelle passed.
One thing I know, after 29 years, I’ve had to learn to think differently.
After quite some time, I recently dreamt of my daughter and felt her with me.
While I was having a conversation with two strangers, she left and I couldn’t find her. I woke feeling so distraught at the loss of the little time I had with her, as though I could have controlled my dream.
I went from my bed to an online yoga class and during this meditative session, my dream began to unfold. Things aren’t always as they appear.
My daughter didn’t go anywhere; I still felt her with me doing yoga. The message and communication of my dream was subtle. She had appeared to me as she would have if she was here — speaking about her summer plans, where she might work, walking the dog.
In the dream I couldn’t find her. She was lost to me. I could no longer see her. What was hidden began to reveal itself. She’s here with me even when I don’t always notice. She can be around me even if I’m feeling anxious or confused.
Before I had this dream, she was feeling very distant and I found myself questioning whether she was within reach.
The message of my dream and meditation was a gift and reaffirmed my responsibility to myself: to nurture myself and my relationship with my daughter, as I have been doing for the last 29 years that she is in spirit.
Finding my way through this journey of grief.
May it be a New Year of Health for us all. A New Year of Hope and New Perspectives.