Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grief in Life

I have a friend who lost her mom a few months ago. It was a cancer that was not supposed to be so quick or so brutal and suddenly my friend found herself in the place I found myself as a young woman in my mid twenties - a motherless daughter.

It is a unique loss, for a girl to lose a mom, and unless you have lived it, especially fairly early in life, you cannot know its sting. My friend has been on my mind a lot lately as the months without her mom drag on and she figures out how to do this world without that one pillar of support. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent her today, to give you a glimpse of her world, and mine:

Dear friend,

Here are a few things that have happened to me lately that I thought you would appreciate.

The fifteenth anniversary of my mom's death came and went and I didn't realize it until the next day, when I got an email from my sister.
For the past fifteen years I have had a variety of reactions and feelings about my mom's death date. Most years I felt an approaching dread as the day grew near, then was okay on the actual day. Some years the approaching dates didn't bother me but the day itself made me so sad I could hardly breathe.

I don't know what it means that I forgot the date this year, except that grief is crazy and I cant count on next year just breezing by. I am fully aware that next year I could be back on the couch wrapped in sadness.

I heard a specific song that always makes me think of my mom. I mull the memories around in my mind and am fully aware of the power they have. I could go from perfectly content to sobbing in my hands in less than two minutes if I allowed myself to ruminate in all that I miss about her. If I sat down in a kitchen chair, instead of continuing to make dinner, and let myself think about all the things I've missed, and my kids have missed, by not having her in our lives for the past decade and a half, I could be a weeping mess.

But that is no longer productive. The tears are a healthy part of the grieving process but I have learned the healthiest way to deal with them is to ration them out. I can choose not to 'go there' and instead let myself remember all the things I loved about her and how she helped create so many of the great things in my character and personality. I can count the years I had her as a blessing, as I peel potatoes and let the song on the radio play out.

My sister emailed and had a very strong 'mom is watching me' moment in her life in Texas. She knows this means a lot to me so she emails me when it happens. I'm not 100% sure what I believe when it comes to heaven and the afterlife but there have been just too many moments through the years, where I strongly felt her presence, or my sister did, to think she is not somehow watching over me still. I feel like it doesnt hurt anything or anyone for me to think this way and it would make her smile, to know her presence in my life didn't end when we said goodbye in that hospital room so many years ago. So I believe.

My heart hurts for you, that these words might bring tears to your eyes because you were thrown into this club just a few months ago. I wouldn't wish this club on anyone but since we both became reluctant members, I thought these words, from an experienced member, might help you in your path.

Love you friend. Let me know if there is anything I can do to make your heart hurt a little less.

I truly understand,

Fellow member, Judy

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