Losing someone you love dearly is one of the greatest tragedies we all eventually face. In my case, this loss represents a gaping hole in my life that simply will never be filled again.
A couple months ago, I was unfortunate enough to lose my mother. This loss has put me through a gambit of emotions. I doubt there are even names for each of the emotions I have found myself wading through. Even though I was fortunate enough to have my mom for 41 years of my life, I simply feel too young to be motherless.
This is the one true piece of reality I keep traveling back to. Being a mother myself, I feel robbed of my inability to share the magical moments with her that she shared with me. I find it a hard pill to swallow honestly. Existing in a world where the eternal and unconditional love of my mom is no longer a part of my daily life seems slightly hollower than it once did. I can recognize that I was able to have my mother be a part of my life far longer than other friends, and I can look back now with gratitude at all the time I was able to share with her.
Coupled with this understanding is the fact that I still have my dad in my life. Many of my friends, both younger and older, have lost both parents by this stage in their lives. To add to that blessing, that father of mine is as wonderful as they come, and I adore him beyond measure. I know I must be grateful for what I have, but it doesn’t lessen my desire to have my mother’s love back in my life once more.
This is what I have learned so far on my short journey through grief. This road will continue to become a longer and longer one to navigate as the first year without my mom will soon turn into two, and then five and ten and so on.
1. Regardless of the type of relationship, losing your mom is hard.
I had a great relationship with my mother. It was not always perfect because at times I could be a real pain the ass, but our bond transformed into one of friendship. As I got older and a little more mature, I realized the importance of being less self-absorbed. It was then that our relationship turned into a connection from which I have very few regrets.
In talking to friends who have lost their parents, I have come to realize something very important. Regardless of the relationship you share with your mother and whether you spoke to her daily (like me) or once a year, the loss you feel over her death is not invalidated. It is a real entity, and you are entitled to grieve.
2. Milestones are hard, especially that first year.
The first milestones without her have felt as if I am missing a major part of my body. I have already been through the first Mother’s Day without her. I dreaded this day and was full of sadness as I watched it grow closer on the calendar, though I knew I couldn’t just wallow in my own feelings of loss and remorse. Just like her, I am a mother as well, and I knew that I had children who were counting on their mother that day. So what did I do? I got my rear in gear and looked after their well-being. That is what being a mom is all about. You put your kids before yourself — always.
What I didn’t expect to affect me so much was the first of my children’s birthdays without her. It was something I always shared with my mom. She was there with me for each one of them, and without thinking, we would always drift back and reminisce about each of my children’s births. After all, my children along with my sister’s children were her pride and joy.
3. Other people miss her too.
I am not the only one missing her. I have children who miss her immensely every day. Even though geography was against us, my kids saw their grandmother quite often considering the distance between us. My children also knew that whenever they wanted to talk to Grandma, she was just a phone call away. My sister misses her too. So do her kids. My dad misses her most of all. I can’t even begin to explain how he feels.
The list doesn’t just stop there either. There are countless others whose lives she touched and who miss her as well. I mean, for crying out loud, it was standing-room only at her funeral — many people loved her. I need to remember that I am not the only one grieving.
4. Grief is different for everyone.
The process of grief is as diverse as each individual who experiences it. I remember the day of the funeral and my sister and dad being so overcome with emotions of loss and sadness. I barely shed a tear, which is odd considering I am someone who is extremely emotional in my own right. But we all process grief differently. I thought something was wrong with me, as if I didn’t miss her as much as my sister did. I’ve learned as time has gone by that it has become far more difficult for me than it was when I was in the midst the funeral. Regardless of the how you grieve, grief is grief, and it sucks rotten eggs.
5. You will forget she is gone at times.
It doesn’t matter if your mom has been gone one day or ten years, you will inadvertently pick up the phone to call her or say something along the lines of “Oh, Mom would get a kick out of this.” I remember as we were preparing for her funeral, my sister was after a specific picture of the three of us together at the beach. It was my mom’s favorite place on this earth. My sister was downstairs looking for it, and in her mind, she immediately thought, oh, I will just go up and ask Mom, she will know where it is.
My sister shared that with me later on, and I confessed that I too had similar moments that overwhelmed me without warning. I was always one to pick up the phone when my kids did something outlandish. My mom and I would laugh over even the littlest things concerning her grandkids. I miss that — more than I thought I would. There are going to be triggers and moments that bring back painful memories. I keep telling myself to be prepared for them, but unless you have gone through this yourself, you simply can’t fathom the emotional distress that will fill you when they occur.
6. Watching interactions with mothers and their adult children will fill you with sadness.
You can’t help but feel a degree of despair when you see other adult children and mothers out spending time with one another. It fills me with both jealousy and gratitude. Obviously, the jealousy part is self-explanatory. I want my mom here with me doing the things those other people are.
The gratitude part is twofold. First, it made me thankful and blessed to have had my mom as long as I had. But on top of that, I am happy for those friends who still have their moms because I know how much I miss mine. For my friends who still have their moms on this earth, I am glad they haven’t had to feel the pain of loss I have.
7. It is all right to ask for help from those who have traveled this same road previously.
The last thing I can share concerns those who still have their moms with them in this world along with anyone who has recently lost their mother. I was thankful my friends reached out to me, cried with me, and sat vigil with me as I spent her final days on earth by her bedside. As much as my friends who sill have their moms hurt for me, they don’t fully understand the extent of my mourning because they simply have not traveled this same road.
I was fortunate enough to have some friends who were able to pick me up emotionally and help carry me through the process of loss. They themselves had already experienced the heartache I was so new to. One day, I will be that steady hand for a friend who has recently lost their mom. I know it will be in this moment that I will understand that all this pain was not in vain, and I can help comfort those that are totally lost in their grief.
Maybe not all these ideas pertain to you. If you indeed have joined the same club I never wanted to belong in, you will find a tall list of absolutes that come with a loss so deep. In closing, I will leave you with one memory I have of my mom pertaining to her death.
As a child, we attended a funeral where a mom was saying good-bye to her child for the very last time. It is an image I will never forget, and it made a lasting impact on my mother as well. Shortly after, she sat my sister and me down and told us that no mother should ever have to bury a child. Being a mother now, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. She continued to explain to the two of us that there was a natural progression to life, and although I hate this natural progression, I know this is what she would have wanted. She would have wanted her children to outlive her. She would want us to carry on and keep her memory alive. I know she would have been proud to know that we are still trying like hell to make that happen.