Our mothers are the tough, loving, admirable and hard-working women who raised us, defined in so many different ways. The person who nourished and raised us as a baby, rocking and feeding us at all hours of the night. The woman who coaxed us on your first day of school and waited for us as we came off the bus. Someone up all hours of the night when we’re sick. The person we turn to as adults when we need advice, a place to cry and share grief or accomplishments. The one we call or text daily just because. Our mothers are such a structural piece in our lives. They are part of the foundation we were built upon and always hold a special place in our hearts.
Throughout the years, I’ve had a few friends who’ve lost their mothers. I felt sad, I sent them condolences, made them a meal, came over or offered to run errands for them. However, I had absolutely no idea what it really felt like until I lost my own.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
It is painful, but don’t put off the pain that comes from the loss. It won’t go away until you go through it, and even then, only time helps you deal with it better. From the other side, I want you to know it’s OK to grieve. Also know that grieving can be physically painful, too.
The first few days of grief are best described as feeling numb. It was difficult to function normally and hard to push myself to go to the events that often follow death. However, I was always grateful I did, because even though it was overwhelming, it did often make me feel better.
After the funeral, things go back to normal for a lot of people, but they won’t go back to normal for you as quickly. Still, people will be kinder to you for a while, they will say and do things you don’t expect, and that helps. Those actions give you a bit of light in a darker time.
It’s only been a couple months for me (and I still have a long way to go in my journey), but I am progressing. And if you think you’re going a bit crazy, find comfort in the ways that I (and many others) have grieved so far and know you can push through…
- Drinking a few glasses of wine. By no means as a crutch to avoid emotions, but occasionally a glass of wine or a hot tea is calming.
- Crying at a local grocery store when you see a favorite food of your mom’s. Or really just a random place when something tugs your heart strings.
- Not being able to handle staying in a room with a crowd of people and heading for the door.
- Hoping for a message of some sort.
- Seeing ads or commercials that refer to moms and feeling a pang you didn’t expect.
- Talking to your mother out loud, in your mind, whatever. Talk to her.
- Being mad that she left.
- Wondering about her. How is she, where is she, what is she doing?
- Questioning your beliefs. It’s OK. Many times our biggest trials are what strengthen our foundations.
- Coming to the realization death is inevitable. Once it hits close enough to home, it can really sink in.
- Needing to talk to someone. Seriously, talking to someone–close friend, family member, therapist, support group–is one of the best ways to make sense of all the broken pieces and move forward.
- Feeling restless, not wanting to get out of bed and having good and bad days.
- Sitting on the floor staring at something for far longer than you’d like to admit because you ‘just can’t right now.’
- Having a major day or holiday overwhelm you with sadness. On my first Christmas Eve–a month after my mother’s death–I felt physically sick and overwhelmed with sadness. I retreated to my bedroom and slept for hours. It was totally unorthodox for the day, but nothing is normal about losing someone close to you. It was OK, it helped, and I recovered.
- Just not wanting to be around people on a rough day and having a good cry.
- Disconnecting from people, falling behind or acting out of character. It happens–your life has just changed drastically. Often anxiousness reared its ugly head after my mother passed, and it made me very touch and go with people and plans. Fear or depression are common as well, and remember that won’t last forever. Don’t feel bad for grieving, don’t feel ashamed for not being the best version of you all the time. And if feelings persist, there is zero shame in talking to someone.
Grief comes and goes. Time will allow grief episodes to appear less and less, but let them come when they do–however they may appear. Even when months have passed and those around you have moved on and may feel your “grieving period” should’ve passed, you will still have rough days. Don’t put a timer on your grieving.
You will be you again, even if it’s a new you. Moving forward after my mother passed away, I’ve come to a couple realizations about the grief of losing someone close to you that have helped in my journey:
- Although grief and sadness are on the opposite end of the spectrum from love, they are still on the same spectrum. I grieve because I can’t always figure out where to place my love for my mother. “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” –Jamie Anderson
- The initial feelings and emotions of losing a mother don’t last forever, but the void left behind is never filled. I’d like to amend the common phrase of, “Time heals all wounds” to say that although we may never fully heal, time does make loss more tolerable.
You will always miss your mom. It’s a void no one can fill. Eventually, you will find joy in your mother’s memory–in the moments you think of and miss her. Slowly but surely, I find myself smiling at a reminder of my mom instead of crying. The more time that passes, the easier it is to enjoy the bittersweet memories and reminders. It’s helpful to remember our moms ultimately want us to be happy, and whether they’re with us or not, that never changes.