Myself (left) and Lauren (right) in front of a waterfall in Iceland in 2016

Journal

A year without Loo

After my sister passed away, my life changed forever. It's been a year since we lost her. So here's a tribute to Loo.

*Trigger warning: Death of a loved one, thoughts of suicide, depression

The first thing that crossed your mind when you saw that trigger warning might have been, “well why are you sharing this here?” This blog has always been an online journal for me, and while it’s moved very much away from that, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about the things that are incredibly important to me.

A little of a year ago my life changed forever.

I was in Oman with a couple of friends and we woke early to watch the sunrise over the desert. In Oman, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are blocked, so I’d had a hard time keeping in touch with family but that morning my mom was insistent that I call her.

When I finally got ahold of her my first thought was of my nephew. He was born just a week earlier at 25 weeks, so he was still in the NICU and he had a long road ahead. Little did I know the call was actually about my sister.

A million miles away in the desert of Oman I found out that my sister had passed away. What happened next happened in a blur. Luckily I wasn’t traveling alone. Christina and Rachel had my bags packed and my flight booked in less than an hour. We then rushed back to Muscat only to spend the entire day waiting in a Starbucks because I didn’t fly until that night.

As cliché as it is, losing my sister taught me so much about life and about myself. The year that followed her death was the darkest year of my life. I continued traveling but everything happened in a bit of a blur. There was a dark haze over my life that left me crying most nights.

I’ve learned how much our people matter. Having those people who are always there, your chosen family, they matter. Being outside matters and being able to take a break from work when you need it matters.

I didn’t learn all of this right away, and of course, I’m still learning but death changes you.

I now take antidepressants. Something a year ago I would have never said yes to, let alone posted about online… but guess what, they work. The antidepressants have helped me navigate the haze and now when I think of Lauren, I find it easier to smile.

There are so many amazing people in my life that I have been able to lean on over this past year. Without them, I don’t think I’d be here. I know how lucky I am to have those people. If you’re finding yourself feeling like you’re unable to navigate the haze alone any longer, let me be that person for you. You can always, always reach me at hello@justynjen.com. Make sure to add the subject line: Missing Loo (that way you’ll be top priority in my inbox).


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