“He’s not in pain anymore,” her father said, to the sounds of her sobbing in disbelief. Nicole’s younger brother Cody had accidentally overdosed, taking his last breath earlier that morning.
In her profession, Dr. Anders specializes in trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), working with combat Veterans and sexual assault survivors. While no stranger to loss, this devastating trauma marked for her a profound first-hand experience with PTSD and heartbreaking grief.
One Hundred Goodbyes is the journey...
Nicole takes you along her journey through the grieving process, touching on all five stages as she wrestles with love and loss; from shock and denial to acceptance.
This timely account of losing a loved one is a testament to the tragedies inflicted by the opiate crisis - eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and powerfully honest.
|Publisher:||Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.53(d)|
About the Author
You can connect with her at drnicoleanders.com or on Instagram at @CodysBigSister
Read an Excerpt
Grief is inescapable in this human experience, and yet it often feels like one of the single most isolating events a person can go through.
I’ve been here before; I’m no stranger to heartache in my mere 30 years. But every time it leaves me breathless, gut-wrenched, and heartbroken in an uncharacteristic solitude.
Have you, too, been here before?
As a clinical psychologist, I am self-aware of my coping mechanisms, both healthy and less so. I understand that “these things take time” and sometimes the only thing to do is nothing at all. I know all of the common platitudes as well as the psychobabble speak, and still, I find myself gasping for air.
Cody was my little brother, and it’s not a hyperbole when I say that he was one of my best friendsa soulmate of a sibling in many ways. Losing him took me to my knees. It’s that split second when you get the phone call that just buckles you. You’ve been there. When all you want to do is rewind time and unhear the tragic news. When you beg and plead with a God you’re not sure you even believe in. Please, please, please, let this not be real. Please.
I’m a psychologist by trade, yogi by heart, and writer by soul. A passion I let fall to the wayside because, as you know, sometimes saying it out loud or writing it down just makes it too goddamn real.
But, as a year slowly and quickly marched by, I realized I couldn’t numb or distract anymore. I need something, anything to help me move through it.
I created a project, dedicating 100 days to 100 contemplations, to come up with 100 writings, all for you, Cody, all for you. When we believe that words are failing us, it is then that we should do the work to search deeper, reflect longer, and find the poetry within us to come out of isolation.
To connect to everyone and anyone who has ever lost someone. With my project, and my words, I have already begun to find solace in the community that is grief.
And so it is.
I wrote that short piece on April 1, 2019. Like most of my writing, words and ideas bounce around in my head for a while, until I find a moment to spit them out onto my iPhone in the notes app. It’s rather sophisticated, I know. I had been dreading that day, the first anniversary of losing Cody. I wanted to celebrate his life; I really wanted to be in a place of celebration, but I couldn’t find it within me. I just felt haunted by the 365 days that had passed without him, knowing that marking one year only meant more years to come.
I was a new mom and a newlywed, with a freshly broken heart. I had spent most of the first year without him in a daze or in a distraction. Less than three months after he died, my son was born prematurely. On a casual Sunday afternoon, my husband and I raced to the hospital, only for me to undergo a cesarean a few days later. We spent one week in the NICU and several months at home in a sleepless stupor. Oh, and me with the hormones. I can’t forget about how those little regulatory substances did anything but regulate me postpartum.
Then, when my son was just 73 days old, my mother-in-law died. Our family rushed up to Canada to sit at her bedside as she passed away, after losing her 34-year battle with cancer. After five weeks in Canada, we returned home, I returned to work, and my husband was deployed, for lack of a better term. He is not enlisted in the military, but the field he is in causes him to be away for many weeks at a time, sometimes with poor means of communication. In some respects, it’s comparable to a military deployment. We definitely go through very similar motions.
So there you have it... A year of chaos, fear, and pain sprinkled in with the most joy I have ever felt. As the one-year anniversary fast approached, I sat with myself. I took a long, deep look at my emotional body and realized just how unprocessed and unhealed my grief was. Time wasn’t healing this wound. I felt everything, all at once, as if every day was the day I lost my brother all over again. Even in happy moments with my son, I found myself in confusing tears. My joy had become bittersweet. I was angry, infuriated. I was absolutely devastated. I was searching for something to help me.
I had been searching for a therapist I could connect with, not finding the right match. As strongly as I believe in psychotherapy, I do not believe in settling for a therapist just because they take your insurance or because their office is down the street from you. If you truly want to do the work, finding the right healer is nearly as important as choosing who you’d like to marry. And I didn’t have the energy to keep going on bad dates. I knew what I needed. I had all of the clinical knowledge, but I couldn’t sit on both sides of the couch at the same time.
So I asked myself, If you were your patient, what would you say? I would tell myself that it was time to face my heartache. That I needed to talk about it, even if it was painful. I needed to go back to the memories and moments that haunted me. I needed to let each wave of emotion wash over me, in its own timing, letting go of the illusions of control. And suddenly, it felt simple. I needed to get back to pen and paper, get back to finding the poetry to express my pain and to express my acceptance.
When I was four years old, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. “I want to write books,” I said. I’ve found comfort and catharsis in words. Sitting in front of a screen, taking a deep breath, and finding the perfect synonym; this calms me. I love to read and write and find a deep human connection in the sport. Turning to writing now seemed so obvious to me.
I called one of my best friends one sunny Vegas after- noon in March 2019. “I have an idea,” I explained. “I want to write letters to Cody; maybe one hundred would be a good goal. I just need to force myself to write, and just let whatever shows up show up. Unedited. Raw. Without a filter.”
She encouraged my idea. “Post them! I want to read them. I love your writing.” And with that conversation, the idea was born. I sat down and spoke to Cody.
The hundred posts took me nearly one year. The second year I spent without him was quite opposite of the first. I was incredibly intentional in my healing. I felt very connected to him as I let myself dive into each stage of grief, out of order, and then back around again. I slowed down, I felt my heart, I used my alone time to medi- tate on the pain. I shared my experience, and it started a domino effect. I found connection. I felt comforted by others. I felt my words comfort others. My healing project blossomed and bloomed into a platform of love, one that continues to expand and grow in ways I could have never predicted.
One hundred posts could never encapsulate the depth of my grief. One hundred posts did not magically take the pain away. Just the other night I felt such a longing for Cody that I sobbed myself to sleep, being held by a loving and patient husband who knows that sometimes I just need to let it out. One hundred posts will never be enough, but they certainly are meaningful. I look back on the journey and truly feel the experience of both writing and sharing them has healed me more than I thought possible.
I share them now with you, dear reader, along with five chapters on grief; one dedicated to each stage. Knowing that the stages are anything but chronological. Knowing that despite my clinical psychology background, I am sim- ply one human hopefully connecting to another through the emotions embodied in these pages. Knowing that we are never alone, even when it feels like we are the first and only person to experience our pains.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, allow your heart to receive my love.
April 1, 2020