On August 3, 2018; my mother of nearly 51 years crossed from this life to the next. Grief has been a challenging and interesting journey. Here are some things I have learned so far from this experience and those of my clients:
1. Healing happens in community.
My friends and close family members have come to mean to much more. I have needed their support, and better yet, they showed up for me. My best friend drove 600 miles with my husband to be there for me. One of my cousins came several days before the memorial service just to be a support to me. Being in a community of people that love and support you is super helpful to the healing process.
2. Missing someone does not mean that you want them back.
My mother was 90 years old and had been in Hospice for 4 months. She had Parkinson’s and breast cancer. She was suffering, and in that respect, her death was a relief. I am relieved that her suffering is over, but I still miss her.
3. Emotions happen.
Since her death I have cried …. A lot. I have been angry. I have been exhausted. I have forgotten things I would not normally forget. I feel out of it. I am trying to take good care of myself, but also being okay with my thoughts and feelings as they come up. There are no rules, except maybe honor yourself and your own process.
4. Everyone grieves differently.
My father is sad. He says that he still talks with Mom all day, but he is also working on moving on. He is 93 years old and trying to find his new normal. One of my sisters’ posts pictures of Mom on Facebook and shares cherished memories. We are all very sad at our loss but we are experiencing it in different ways, and moving forward in different ways. Everyone grieves differently.
5. Grief changes relationships.
My mom and I have always been close, but now that she is gone; my relationship with my father has taken on new meaning. I just spent Labor Day weekend with him and we had to find a way of relating that did not involve my Mom. It was new. It was awkward, and it was really good. Families change when a member exits. The deceased will live on in our memories, but the way we relate to each other will be affected.
6. Nothing can replace what was lost.
Life goes on, but nothing and no one can ever take the place of the person who once filled it. Life goes on and so do we, but the place your loved one had in your life can never be filled with someone or something else. It does not work that way.
Sometimes grief can turn complicated. What does that mean? Grief is a process that we work through over time. The symptoms that we have at the time of loss typically decrease as we work through them. If your loss occurred more than 5 months ago and you are still struggling, you might want to check out the Healthy Grief Questionnaire below.