To a girl, her mom is her first best friend. The person who teaches her what a woman should be. The first person to wipe her tears away when she is afraid or hurt. The first person to tell her how beautiful and special she is. To a girl, her mother is invincible.

One day, though, you learn your mom isn’t invincible after all. So, you stand there and tell her you love her and you will somehow be OK. You stand by her side while she takes her last breath, and then it hits you. You aren’t going to be OK.

In the days, weeks, and months that follow the death of your mother, you will feel a heartbreak like you cannot even imagine.

Think of your very worst break-up, multiply it by 100. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what you will feel.

You will be angry, so angry you find yourself shaking. You’ll cry until your head is pounding, your eyes are swollen shut, and your nose is so stuffy you can’t breathe. Then you’ll cry some more.

Food will lose its appeal, and the weight will fall off faster than you can buy new clothes. You might pick up old bad habits, anything to help numb the pain enough so you can sleep through the night.

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Sleep won’t come, thoughyou will toss and turn for hours looking at old videos and pictures just so you can hear her voice or see her smile. One day you will be walking through a store and see someone who resembles your mom and your heart is going to sink to the floor. For just a second, you’ll forget she is gone. It will hurt, bad.

There will be times you pick up your phone to call her but stop after the first ring because it sinks in—she’s not going to answer. In an effort to feel “normal,” you will go to familiar places she went to, listen to her favorite gospel hymns, you’ll even spray her perfume all over your pillow. It won’t help. You’ll find yourself screaming in anger, crying until you’re sick, and begging God to bring her back.

People will try to comfort you with the “right” words, but those words don’t exist. You will learn that some people you trusted and thought were friends will do things and say things that will make you lose trust. They think they are doing what is best, and they are. They do what is best for themselves, and you get to pick up what pieces you have left. Be very careful who you let into your heart in the first few monthsyou are extremely vulnerable. Any sense of love or comfort sounds good, but it can be deceiving.

Nobody will ever replace your motherit simply is not possible.

Please, do not let anyone break your heart so soon after the death of a parent. It is better to be guarded than to be shattered again when you haven’t even begun to heal from your loss.

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There are stages to grief, or at least that’s what is rumored. Grief doesn’t know it is supposed to come in stages though. Instead, it tears down your facade, wrecks your world, walks out casually, then returns hours later to do it all over again.

I wish I could say one day it is easier, that you wake up and feel whole again, but I can’t. You will wish you were dead at times not because you hate life but because you want so badly to see your mama again. You will push people away even though you love them deeply.

The thought of loving someone so much, of being so captivated by someone, only to have them ripped from you will take its toll on your heart and mind. Realizing you would rather be alone than ever feel so much heartache again is normal. Take the time to be alone if needed but don’t disappear. Somebody cares about you and is worried.

There will be days you can’t get out of bed. There will be days you don’t want to smile. All that is OK. Nobody can tell you what to feel, how you should feel, or how to handle your grief. If anyone does try to tell you how to grieve, punch them in the nose.

Having to experience holidays and birthdays without your mom will be one of the toughest parts. You will experience “happy” occasions that are almost impossible to push through without crying because she should be there. Missing your mom is something you will feel every moment of every day, even when you’re happy. You will be having a good time and all of a sudden wish she was there. All the emotions will flood you with a vengeance. That’s OK, too.

If your mother was anything like mine, she deserves to be missed. It’s hard to try and move forward with your life when your confidant, friend, biggest fan, and defender is gone. Remember, you are half herher DNA is coursing through your veins. You will always miss her and wish she was here, she was your mom. Take time to feel the emotions and take time to miss her. You aren’t alone.

You aren’t the only one who feels lost.

You aren’t crazy for feeling incomplete. Let yourself find peace. Remember that she loved you with a pure, unwavering, and endless love. Take that love she showed you and share it with others. Make her love your legacy.

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Jessica Grillo

After suffering the loss of my sister and mother in March, I started writing about my personal journey through this lonely and brutal process . I found my voice, I found my truth , but most importantly I found healing in the words that were flowing from my soul.