It has been so comforting to see and connect with many of Ashley's close friends and family in the short time since her passing, but obviously there is nothing that can truly take away the deep pain that comes with losing her.
I felt compelled to share some of the ways that I have been coping and as Ashley granted me permission to, "do whatever you want with Lights on Cancer," I guess I will go ahead and do just that.
Photos + Videos
I have been fortunate to be able to work on a slideshow of photos of Ash and will make that available on the blog when it is finished. If you happen to have some gems I would greatly appreciate you sending them to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I may include them.
If you don't have many, there is of course the album here on Lights on Cancer, and you also can watch Ashley and Miguel's wedding video which is the perfect representation for how I will always remember her; silly, beautiful and loving life.
While it usually leaves me a bubbling mess of tears, I find listening to music to be a cathartic way to connect to the deep sadness I feel and it offers a relief of sorts. I'm sure many of you have at least a song or two that reminds you of Ashley, but if you need a jumping off point here is the playlist that gets me sobbing.
Tara Brach's Podcast
Ashley introduced me to, TB as we called her, a ways into her cancer journey and her talks had a profound impact on us both.
Today I started the Grief Series in the Headspace App, which was unique to any other meditations I have tried inside the app or out. If that's your thing it is worth a try. They offer a free trial if you want to test it for yourself.
Admittedly, I am new to counseling (yesterday was my second session and I really wanted to just skip it), but Ashley was a big advocate for it and she really pushed me to give it an honest try. She had walked me though finding someone, so I will share her wisdom with you all.
You can look on Psychology Today's directory, where you can filter for your insurance and any specialty training you would like the professional to have. Ash had suggested someone with Mindfulness training, but you can also select specialties such as grief and bereavement. From my experience I would recommend phone calls over emails to receive a response from prospective therapists.
While probably not the most sustainable coping method, I've found that getting busy doing things that either honor Ashley or feel supportive to her family, helps to make this time a little more bearable.
The meal train is still ongoing and the dinners are such an immense help at this time. Special thanks to all of you that have brought meals, they are greatly appreciated.
Flowers will always be welcome in this family, and I know with each bunch a little bit of Ashley's light shines in.
The Turkey Trot is coming up and joining Ashley's team is another wonderful way to honor her and her courageous battle, as well as support a cause she was very passionate about.
Lastly, as I know Ashley would agree, there is nothing quite like a little retail therapy. I think she might even be a worse influence in spirit, as my recent credit card statement would suggest.
Please continue to check back over the next few days as we will have more to share and hope to keep this community strong, just like Ash.
I hope everyone is managing ok and I am sending out a big hug to each and everyone of you,