A year ago, I was sitting in my parents’ family room reeling from the shock of what had happened hours before at 8:30 a.m., just minutes after I arrived in my mom’s hospital room. In some ways, it seems like 15 years ago given the tumultuous raft of emotions I have experienced this year. And in other ways, it seems like 15 minutes ago I was curled up on her chest saying my last goodbye.
Many friends reached over that year to tell me how helpful the public processing of my grief on social media was to them. It had certainly not been my intention at the start of this to help anyone, and I didn’t even particularly care if anyone was reading what I wrote, but I was so happy it helped others. Writing has always been extremely therapeutic for me, and I think I felt like releasing words into cyberspace might somehow reach her in Heaven. The woman did love the internet, I can tell you that! Amazon Prime is missing her.
In the continued spirit of processing and perhaps helping others, here is what I have learned about grief and losing my mom:
- It freaking sucks. Beyond belief.
- To describe it as seemingly boundless would not be hyperbolic.
- It’s deeply personal, even amongst siblings. Maybe especially amongst siblings.
- Many people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing at all. And that is OK. You don’t know how it feels until you know how it feels. And you quickly realize how your “comforting” words to others in the past were merely hollow platitudes.
- Burying your emotions does not work. Grief is physically, mentally, and emotionally acutely painful, and you need to find ways to release it. For me, it appeared to be frantic exercise, hours on my stand-up paddleboard, alcohol, and the gift of talking with friends who would listen. Did I mention alcohol?
- There is no timeline. Nor should you even hold yourself to one. And don’t let anyone tell you differently. At all. Even if they are well-intentioned, they are wrong. Your journey is your journey.
- Some people who you think will totally be there for you aren’t while others you never expected will come out of the woodwork to help in ways you never imagined. I am deeply grateful for the latter, and you know who you are.
- You will stop caring about some things that seemed profoundly important before and start caring about things that seemed totally inconsequential. This is a very strange shift but a necessary one.
- You will no longer have time for relationships that suck your energy, are imbalanced, or are surface. And you will put far more energy into those relationships that really matter—with profound gains. This is a gift.
- You will never be the same again.
Here are the things I miss most about my mom:
- Her laugh, her wit, her charm, her life energy.
- Talking about books with her (I am only fairly recently deriving joy from reading again actually).
- Sitting by her fire drinking wine. Sitting at her dinner table drinking wine. Sitting in her backyard drinking wine.
- Watching sunsets at the lake with her, wine in hand, looking out at the water, and talking. Or not talking.
- The unconditionality of the love she had for me that no one else has or ever will.
This is my yearlong journey thus far. Miss you every day, Mom. What a gift you were and are.