COVID 19 – Grieving for the Way things Were, Embracing the Way things Will Be.

“How great it is when we come to know that times of disappointment can be followed by joy.” -Fred Rogers

Today is Saturday, April 4th, 2020.  The sun is shining bright, the air is brisk, the birds are singing, and the ice has melted away.  Spring is definitely in the air.

Yet, the world is in chaos. Businesses have shuttered their windows.  We no longer see friends sharing in an embrace.  Our schools have shut their doors.  What should be a busy time for Spring Break travel and the highly anticipated opening of restaurant patios have all but gone silent.  “Social Distancing” and “Shelter in Place” have become familiar phrases.  We are truly living in unprecedented times.

We turn on the news, scroll through social media, and are bombarded with the unfathomable message that “it is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Read that again; it is going to get worse before it gets better.

I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine last week, and she said something that I’ve been replaying over and over again in my head, “This is hard and I’m struggling.  I’m not necessarily grieving for the world as it is,  but life will change.  It won’t ever be the same, and I’m already grieving for the world as it was and will never be again.”

So, dear readers, I’m not writing this post to further give into the sadness and despair that surely is encompassing every corner of the globe.  I’m also not trying to be insensitive to the fact that there is a very real and very deadly virus that is the cause of everything happening, nor am I going to comment on the many beliefs that this whole thing is being “overplayed” and is “nothing but a conspiracy.”

No, not today.

Today I want to encourage all of you to focus on the undeniable fact that IT WILL END.  IT WILL GET BETTER.  I believe with every fiber of my being that Fred Rodgers’ wise words will ring true.  I also believe that my friend’s grief, and the grief of so many others, can be reshaped to a sense of overwhelming hope.

Yes, the world WILL most likely never be the same.  The way we do business, the way we travel, the way we educate, the way we interact, will all undoubtedly change.

But I believe this change will be for good.

Even now, despite of the hardships we are all facing, love, faith and compassion have become ever prevalent.  I see an abundance of beautiful movements on social media that have been created to inspire hope.  Food, clothing, and cleaning product donations are popping up in random front yards with encouraging notes, “What’s ours is yours” and “Please help yourselves, we are in this together.” Multiple non-profits are being set up to help those who are facing a loss of income. Emergency and medical workers are receiving much deserved free child care. Friends are reaching out to friends to simply “check in” in hopes of providing a simple smile or a much-needed laugh… These actions are all SO incredible and most likely never would have been at the forefront had this pandemic not become reality.

So, my friends, let’s move forward with the knowledge that we are better together.  A hug will have new meaning.  A friend’s laughter will have a sweeter sound.  All of the small, insignificant details of our lives, buying toilet paper, going out to dinner, taking the kids on a play date will never be taken for granted again, at least that is the hope, right?

Let’s not focus on what has been, but on how this grave time will reshape humanity.  When we approach the bad times with love in our eyes and hope in our hearts, the end game will be a world changed, for the better.  I, for one, cannot wait to see that world.



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Are you one of the unfortunate humans who walk the earth having experienced a significant loss? I’m talking about a loss; a close family member, a best friend, a parent, son, daughter, etc… You get it.
One aspect of loss that never ceases to amaze me is that SO many people become your “best friend” when life goes awry. Everyone cares. Everyone shares. Every. Single. Person.
Then, just as quickly as “those” people appear, they disappear.
This is the norm. I know I’ve been that person a time or two.
When someone passes, we all want to feel a connection to that person, whether it’s through true friendship, acquaintanceship, a family member, or one conversation we had with the deceased. We want to feel as though we KNEW them, that whatever time we had with them was meaningful. It’s the human condition, to want to be a part of the village, no matter how large or small that village may be.
My sister passed away just about a year and one month ago to the day. During that time, I must confess, it was lovely being the recipient of ample amounts of much-needed affection from family, friends and strangers alike. It was therapeutic to share in the memories of her life with others who knew her, her husband, and her children, or even simply knew of her and her story.  And for a couple months after her passing, it was heart warming to still receive phone calls and texts, just “those” people checking in.
Today, most of “those” communications have fallen silent, albeit “the few.”
And that is okay. EVERY life moves forward, and as much as I want to freeze those precious moments, those nostalgic conversations, those times where our village was strong, saluting one of the best of us, relishing in her memory, that’s simply not the reality of today.
And that is okay.
I know that there are grievers out there who harbor resentment towards “those” people who have gone silent. If you are one of those grievers, I say, forgive them. They got you through an incredibly trying time. Even if they didn’t know the deceased in the way you knew them, or even if they did, they were there. It’s only natural that, eventually, people will move on, assuming you are moving forward as well. Or perhaps they don’t WANT to bring up your loved one for fear of bringing hard memories to the surface. Or perhaps they have pushed that difficult time to the back of their minds. It was likely hard on them too.  As we all know, all people grieve differently.
For you, dear grievers, you too have brought new thoughts forward, but the loss of THAT person is never far from the front of your mind. And that, too, is okay. That loss will probably remain in the front of your mind for a while, maybe forever.
That. Is. Okay.
Remember them, and remember them hard. Remember their laughter, their tears, their voice, their virtues. Remember the good times, the funny times, the sad times, the times you can’t remember. Remember your love for them.  Remember how they moved you. Remember the person they helped you become. Remember the impact they had in your life.
To “those” people, those who have gone silent, we thank you for being there for us when we needed you.  Simply remember those of us who loved them best who are still suffering, trying to find a reason without them. Help us to remember the reason we grieve. It may have been over a year, perhaps more, but to us, it feels like yesterday. Each memory of them is still so fresh in our minds, it’s as though we can feel them, smell them, hear their voice as if they are sitting next to us. Please don’t forget about us. Even just a smile emoji helps.
To “the few,” you know who you are, the ones who still call, text, email, send a simple photo. Thank you. You haven’t forgotten us. You haven’t forgotten THEM. YOU are still there, firm in your faith and friendship. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
And so, dear grievers, thank the ones who stayed, forgive the ones who didn’t, and remember, always remember, the ones who are, forever, a memory.


THE EMERALD ISLE – A Glimpse into our Ten Day Journey around Galway

“The Irish: be they kings, or poets, or farmers, they’re a people of great worth. They keep company with the angels and bring a bit of heaven here to earth.”

We often hear the phrase, “travel moves you,” and while I have seen my fair share of the world, there has been no place that has touched my heart the way Ireland has.

It’s a land of legend, culture, tribulation, faith and pristine beauty, where the Atlantic Ocean batters rocky cliffs and brisk winds howl through the countryside.  The emerald grass and rock walls that paint the landscape tell stories of a time gone, but not forgotten.  The simple spirit of the warm-hearted, fun-loving people set my soul alive.  Gentle songs that have been passed down through generations drift down the cobblestone alleyways and linger in the salty, sea air.  Smiles abound, laughs are frequent, and a good pint of Guinness is never far out of reach.

Ah, yes. Ireland has most definitely moved me, every part of me.

I have just returned to America after a life-altering ten-day-journey of the Emerald Isle.  Ireland is the place of my ancestors.  My late grandfather, an O’Brien and descendant of the O’Briens of County Cork, never had a lack of tales of his family’s homeland.  My siblings and I grew up with stories of quaint villages, numerous Irish tunes and Celtic Legends.  It was the one place my late sister always wanted to see.  We had actually planned to visit when she “got better.”  Alas, she passed before we were able to fulfill her wish of visiting Ireland.

Witnessing the passing of both of these dear family members is what finally persuaded me to take a leap of faith.  No more “I don’t have time,” or “I can’t afford it.”  We have this one life, and what is the point of this life if we don’t do the things we want to do while we can still do them. So, my surviving sister and I, along with five of our dear friends, made the trip in honor of both my late sister and grandfather. The emotions were high and varied, but the love we now have for this country is deep, and inexplicable.

Ireland should truly be on everyone’s bucket list.  Not just because of the beauty that abounds, but because we can all learn from the Irish people on what “living the good life” truly means.  These folks have endured centuries of oppression, incomprehensible hardships, and have still managed to come out on top and enjoy life to the fullest.

We began our journey in Dublin, traveled by train cross country to the ocean-side city of Galway, and ventured to castles, landmarks, small villages, and, of course, frequented multiple pubs.  This blog will highlight some of our favorite places and will also offer some tips for travel.

Enjoy, and be awed.



After speaking with numerous travelers who had ventured to Ireland previously, and listening to information provided by countless travel podcasts, our group made the decision to fly in and out of Dublin Airport.  Many folks recommended Shannon Airport as well.  Our determining factor, however, was simple; funds.  We found it cheaper to use Dublin Airport, but I’ve heard many good things about Shannon, so don’t discredit it based on our choice.

With that being said, we found Dublin Airport to be highly efficient.  The staff are wonderfully friendly, the process of security and customs were quite simple and very quick, and there are multiple options for food and drink.


As Americans, the thought of driving on the opposite side of the car, the road, and witnessing how incredibly small the roads in Ireland are (I’m not joking, the roads seem more like trails to the American eye), we opted to take public transportation the entire time we were there, and are so glad we did! You can call a taxi from pretty much anywhere.  They also have Uber and similar services, although we found taxis and buses to be a more inexpensive option.

From the airport, we were able to hop on a bus which dropped us right in front of the Heuston Train Station in downtown Dublin.  The train ride was comfortable and only about 38 US dollars for a round trip ticket to Galway (*note: do NOT lose your ticket during your trip or you must pay for a whole new one).  By choosing to ride the train, we were able to save ourselves some heart-attacks, sit back, relax, enjoy an Irish Coffee and relish in the stunning views of the famous Irish landscape.

Once we arrived in Galway, we chose to walk, as the weather was pleasant that day, and it was only a fifteen minute jaunt through the city to reach our destination.  This allowed us the chance to take in the sights up close and personal.


While many folks who travel to Ireland use their time to drive around the country and lodge at multiple hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or hostels along the way, we decided that we wanted a “home base.”  AirBNB was the way to go, especially for a group of seven.

We found an amazing 1930’s townhouse within walking distance of EVERYTHING in Galway; Shop Street, the Salt Hill Promenade, historic sights, restaurants, pubs, bus stops and the ocean.  The cost was just over two grand for a six night stay.  Divide that by seven and it was about 350 US dollars per person.  Mind you,  this price included all of the essential amenities; full kitchen, washer and dryer, back yard, plenty of beds, a wood burning stove, undivided support from our hosts, etc…  It was so lovely and convenient!


TOP 5 MUST SEE/ DO in and around GALWAY

Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle – Wow!  Just, wow!  As any little girl growing up in the states, I had frequent dreams of being a princess in a castle, but the only castle I ever saw was Sleeping Beauty’s at Disneyland.  Ashford Castle was a fantasy come true, and while I’m nothing more than a commoner, they treated me, and all of my companions, as royalty.

For just over 60 US dollars, we were able to enjoy an array of delicious sandwiches, pastries, teas, champagnes, and unmatched Irish hospitality while enjoying the historic beauty of the grand estate.  Unfortunately, there was a hurricane happening the day we were there, so we weren’t able to explore the vast and picturesque grounds, but I could think of worse places to spend a stormy day.

*Note – If you are without a vehicle, the castle was able to send a shuttle directly to our AirBNB for round trip transportation, for a fee.  It was about forty-five minutes there, and the same back.  Well worth it.

The Cliffs of Moher Tour – Attention all Princess Bride fans!  Do you remember “The Cliffs of Insanity?”  Well, you can see the real thing in Ireland!  Indeed, this is the very place where they filmed that portion of the beloved cult classic.

We joined a day tour through The Galway Tour Company.  At only around 30 US dollars, they will pick you up in downtown Galway, and you will spend the day (from 10am – 6pm) learning the history of the area en route.  On the way to the cliffs, which are located in County Clare,  you will enjoy visiting Dunguaire Castle, The Burren, The Gleninsheen Wedge Tombs, and a stop for lunch in the small, traditional village of Doolin.  Once at The Cliffs of Moher, you are allotted about two hours to explore at your leisure.  Once time is up, the bus travels back to Galway along the coast road, perhaps one of the most beautiful drives in all the world.

The one thing I will say about the Cliffs of Moher; GO.  No matter how you get there. We frequently see pictures of awesome places in books, online and in magazines, but nothing can compare to the grandeur of actually witnessing these places in person.  The Cliffs of Moher have no words that can measure up to actually being there.  To see something so gigantic, so beautiful, so majestic, truly makes one realize the power of the natural world.

Self-guided -or- guided history walk through Galway City – Anywhere you visit in Ireland will be full of historic sites, so you can’t really go wrong wherever you are.  Galway, in particular,  has a cluster of these ancient places all within walking distance; the Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum, Eyre SquareLynch Castle,  and Atlantaquaria, just to name a few.  And all of these sights can be reached on foot!  On the weekends, be sure to check out the Galway Street Market, where Galway’s bohemian spirit comes alive.

Take a stroll on the Salthill Promenade – This 2km walk along the shores of Galway Bay is a favorite pastime for both locals and visitors.  Enjoy views of the Aran Islands, pass locals playing music, witness young and old alike taking a dip in the frigid ocean, or stop into one of the many local restaurants or pubs.

The Aran Islands – Speaking of the Aran Islands, take a ferry across the bay and spend a day frolicking on these ancient islands. There are a total of three islands that are located at the mouth of Galway Bay, and offer visitors a chance to see breathtaking scenery and glimpses into an ancient time that has long since disappeared from the country.  You can either purchase tickets before your adventure or can simply stop into one of the tour offices when you arrive.  Something to note, if the ocean is angry, the ferries will not run.


Ireland has stolen my heart.  The Irish people have shown me what it means to be genuine, to find hope and humor in any circumstance, to learn from, and cherish the past, while living fully in the present.  From the country’s modern cities, dotted with ancient remnants on every corner, to its thatched countryside cottages, to its grandiose castles, Ireland has captivated me, mind, body and soul.

In conclusion, I shall leave you with an old Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Nope, I’m So NOT Okay. But Thanks for Asking! – The BEST Thing to Say to a Person Grieving


“It’s been one HELLUVA ride, but I’m okay.”

That’s the response I find myself uttering to the hundreds of well-meaning people who bombard me with the only question they feel is safe to ask…

How are you doing?

It’s not their fault they don’t know what to say.  Shoot, I never knew what to say either.  Sometimes I still don’t.

Society has groomed us to put on a happy face and pull up our big-kid panties, because God forbid, we make any situation uncomfortable.  I mean, how would someone respond if I answered, “Well, the same year I had to have my uterus ripped out, diminishing any chance to have more kids, was the same year my sister was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.  Oh!  She died, a few months ago, by the way. And hey!  My grandfather, with whom I was extremely close, died last week.  So, yeah.  I’m kind of righteously not okay?” (True story, BTW)

But I get it.  Human beings want to comfort those they love, and it’s a lot easier to let them if we respond in a way that allows them to fulfill this desire, and for that reason, I suck it up, far more than I’d like.

Each person on the planet is created differently, just as each person deals with grief in their own, personal way.  Some of us want to talk about it, and some of us don’t.  Some of us cry, and some of us laugh.  Some of us need to surround ourselves with our friends and family constantly, and some of us hide out in our home for weeks or months on end.  It’s truly not you, it’s us.

So, what do we say to people who are dealing with loss and grief? Are any questions truly safe?

The other day I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine.  This sweet, genuine soul witnessed my entire journey, from the time my hysterectomy happened, during my sister’s diagnosis and death, right up until my grandfather died.  A few days ago, she showed up at my home, not caring that my eyes were swollen and puffy, that my house looked like a frat den, or that I smelled like a living nightmare.  She simply wanted to see if I was okay, with a bottle of wine in tow (if you don’t have friends like this, you need to find some new friends).  Anyhow, as we sat at a bistro table on my deck, catching up on life and soaking up the last sun beams of the day, she told me something so profound that I just had to share it with the masses:

“MB,” she said, “I want to say the right thing to you right now, but nothing is going to take away the pain.”  She held up her wine glass for cheers and continued, “Just know that I love you and I’m here for you if you ever want to talk.”

And that was it.

Boom.  She nailed it.

Now, as I mentioned before, I’m one person dealing with loss in my own, unique way, so what makes sense to me might not for another.  But man.  Her words touched me, deeply.  She didn’t ask the question that put me in the dreaded position to alter the truth.  She simply let me know that she would be an outlet, a resource, a loving, non-judgmental ear should I need one.  With that small statement she gave me a huge gift, the permission I’d subconsciously been longing for; it’s okay to feel all the feelings and to let them out around me.

A weight was instantly lifted, and I started sobbing like a child who just had their Halloween candy stolen by creepy clowns.  We are talking hyperventilating, wine-spilling, convulsing sobs.  I didn’t know how much I needed to let it out until that moment.

It is human nature to feel the need to be strong and resilient.  But, IT IS OKAY to break down.  It is scientifically proven to be good for your health to NOT hold things in.  Loss is usually new, unfamiliar territory, and it is only natural that we turn into weird, blubbering, overly-emotional beings (trust me, I’m an expert).

I truly believe that all any person dealing with grief needs is permission to grieve!  Like, openly and honestly grieve. We are trying to be strong for our family, our clients, hell, even our energy-feeling pets.  How long can that last before we turn our lives (and our health) inside out?

If you are reading this, chances are that you are either dealing with loss, or know someone who is.  Whatever your situation,


On behalf of every person who has, or ever will experience loss, I thank you.