Craving Things and the Power of Letting Go

[Dear Readers:

This is Jon, Erin’s partner. For those of you who don’t already know, Erin was victim of a hit-and-run accident on June 22 and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. After weeks of fighting in the ICU, Erin passed away on July 15.

Details of her fight for survival can be found on her GoFundMe page. Many Portland news agencies have also ran stories about the accident and her passing. You can easily find them online. Memorial services are planned for July 30 in Kalispell, MT, and for August 16 in Portland, OR, details TBD. 

While going through her things, I discovered a blog post that Erin was in the process of writing at the time of her accident. Of course, the post has all of the issues common to work that is posthumously discovered:  uncertainty about how much the author would have added to or edited it; questions about whether she would have ultimately published it at all; and hopes by those of us close to the author that we are honoring what she would have chosen to do with it in its given state. On the latter issue, we believe that the post is particularly relevant to her family, friends, and readers who are processing this tremendous loss because the post touches on Erin’s own struggle with grieving the recent loss of her mother. So many of us have relied on the strength of Erin’s character and her love-wisdom while going through our own grief of losing Erin. I have found comfort in her final blog post, and I hope you can, too.  Subject to the above caveats, the post is published below. 

Also of particular interest to this community is a video message that Erin recently recorded to offer support and encouragement to people struggling with eating disorders. That video was posted on Mirror-Mirror Eating Disorder‘s YouTube page, and it may be found here.

Loving people with eating disorders was one of Erin’s greatest passion. At the time of her passing, she had been accepted to several Masters of Social Work programs and intended to begin in the fall. Her “dream job” after graduation was to help people with eating disorders. The family will soon select an organization to which donations may be made in Erin’s honor.

Much love and light in your path,
Jon]

 

Good morning! I hope you’re having a lovely week so far. The post I’m writing today is one that has been in the works for a while. I’ve had iterations of it written out in a journal or two, and I think that it is time to develop it a little further.

My mom died two months ago. My beautiful, kind, generous, enthusiastic, loving mom. It has already been two months since I held her hand and kissed her goodbye. Two months ago feels like an eternity, and like just yesterday. Time doesn’t seem real in moments like these. I’m not writing about my mom’s death today, though. Not really, anyway. The day may come for that post, but today I am writing about why we tend to collect things when we feel scared or trapped or insecure, and how we can begin to let them go.

I have been a collector for as long as I can remember. Since I was a little kid, my bedroom has never been the kind with matching PB Teen comforter sets, perfectly coordinated and organized desktops, or straight-out-of-the-catalog toy placement. A big part of the reason that my bedroom carried little semblance of organization was because I hated to throw anything away. I tried to find nooks and crannies for everything, from old homework to movie tickets to labels off of Sprite Remix bottles (seriously).  I felt a compulsion to hold on to things, I think because I believed that the significance of my memories existed within them. My hoarding tendencies got so bad that the attic off of my bedroom was filled to the brim with random junk. It wasn’t until I was twenty-two years old that I finally sorted through it all, recycling and giving away almost everything.

I’m writing this because this tendency to hold on to things is still something with which I struggle, especially if I feel an emotional attachment to an object. It became especially evident after my mom’s death, when the act of getting rid of her car felt impossible. I had bought that car with my mom. We had test driven it, narrowed down colors, and paid extra for the anti-scratch protective coating. It was only the second new car that she had ever purchased, and she loved it. Getting rid of the car felt like getting rid of my mom, and I couldn’t do it. I tried to think of ways that I could keep it, buying it myself and selling my current car or owning two cars (an absurd idea). I felt so panicked by the idea of getting rid of it that I felt there had to be a way to keep it. After talking with my brother, my partner, and others, I realized that I had to find a way to let go. I wasn’t thinking rationally, as is often the case in grief, and I was allowing my desire to hold on to my mom dictate my choices. Letting go of the car wasn’t easy, and I developed a mantra to help me do it. “My mom doesn’t live in this car,” I would say to myself whenever I felt panicky about getting rid of it.

In the weeks since, I have used that mantra again and again, both when it comes to my mom’s things and when considering gifts from people that I don’t use, unnecessary scraps of paper and receipts from nights out, and anything else that I feel holds a memory. I remind myself that my memories do not exist in objects, and that my experiences are valuable even if I don’t hold on to every reminder of them. I will always have an eclectic sense of style, and always hold on to things more than many people, I think. But now I know how to do so without allowing it to hold me back, and how to keep what is truly important while letting go of that which I do not need.

 

4 comments
  1. Jon,
    I am shocked at hearing the news of Erin. My deepest condolences to you and her family. While I never personally met her I enjoyed communicating with her through comments on our blogs. Growing up near Kalispell I felt like I was catching up with an old friend. I’ll miss her well written posts and weekly link round up. My thoughts and prayers to her family. Hoping she and her mother at comforting each other.
    Kate @ Kate Lives Healthy recently posted…WIAW #160My Profile

  2. Devastated by this news. Love to everyone. She helped me with recovery after a relapse. Godspeed.

  3. I’ve followed Erin’s blog since the very first one, and I’ve been blown away by her writing. First of all, she was a really, really good writer! Articulate, funny, poignant, brutally honest, empathetic, brave, knowledgable, kind and helpful. I encouraged her to compile the entries into a book, which I know would sell and further be of help to even more people overcoming disordered eating. I still think it is a good idea if anyone knows how to go about that and her loved ones agree.

    I will miss Erin more than I can say, and I will be forever grateful for all I’ve learned from her. Those of us who work as eating disorder treatment providers would have welcomed her to the professional community, and would have benefited greatly from her unique blend of personal experiences and the professional training she would have received. She would have helped so very many people. I truly feel bereft at the loss of Erin. I will pledge, however, to work even harder in her honor to help further the cause of disordered eating recovery in individuals and in the world.

    We will miss you, dear Erin. So much.

  4. To Jon and Erin’s friends and family–I’m so so so sorry to hear this. Erin was an inspiration to so many of this in this blogging community; a beautiful woman inside and out. Of course I never met her face-to-face; those of you who knew her are so lucky to have had that opportunity. Wishing you healing and comfort in your time of grieving.
    Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar recently posted…Caterpillar Crawl: July 2017My Profile

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