Turning Grief Into Meaning
“Life is about circumstance and choice.” – Michael J. Fox
I thought I knew what loss was.
But it wasn’t until 2011 when I lost my sister that I truly experienced indescribable grief.
My beautiful, strong sister succumbed to the disease (cystic fibrosis) she fought her entire life. I always knew she was sick since I was a little kid, but for some reason I never thought I’d actually lose her.
I took it for granted that every day I would wake up – and she would, too.
It wasn’t until that moment in the hospital when she took her last breath, that I took one of my own last breaths. One where my sister was in the world. The former me also died that day – and a completely new Emily was born.
It’s hard to describe the things that happen when you lose someone you love so much.
The inexplicable pain.
My sister was my biggest supporter, my toughest critic, and my oldest friend. She was the one who told me how things really were, who knew every memory I could call to mind, and who healed my oldest, deepest wounds.
She bought me the book that inspired my career into entrepreneurship – as well as my first laptop to get started. My earliest memories are of the two of us playing and laughing – hiding in our old attic to make prank phone calls, sneaking fudgesicles at our dear Auntie Carol’s. I remember looking up to her in everything that she did.
I was 25 years old when Julia passed. Grief was the catalyst I needed to become the person I was meant to be. For many, death is a wake up call – and it was like that for me. Julia’s death gave me a constant reminder of how short life is – and what is really important in life.
To always be kind to others.
That superficial things don’t matter.
And to dive in head first towards chasing your dreams. Take risks, because none of us know when our time is up.
After losing my sister my life became full of total purpose. The grief I suffered carried me to places I never knew I could go – and forged me into a person I never knew I could be. It sparked within me the drive to succeed so I could help others. Each business became combined with my personal purpose. My new-found values became entrenched into all business activities I undertook. Everything I had learned before – about keeping the personal separate from the business – washed away. And the theory that you have to be ruthless to succeed proved to be entirely untrue for me. I can help others, be kind, and still be successful.
Creating JWLS was my next step in continuing this journey. Inspired by Julia – with endless possibilities. She lives on with each timepiece worn – so her journey and inspiring, unstoppable spirit continues on, too.