My mother passed away from ovarian cancer when I was a child.
I’m in my late 30s now, and I’m still trying to manage this loss as I move through life. Even though it’s been long ago, I’ve lived most of my life without my mother, but I still miss her.
However, there are three things I’ve learned since losing my Mother:
1. Grief is not linear and is not exclusively conveyed through tears.
Someone you love has been taken away from you, and your heart has been destroyed into pieces. It’s only normal to mourn, but we all grieve differently. Grief shows up in anger, sorrow, remorse, fear, and sometimes peace. It is unpredictable and, at times, strenuous.
I wept when my mother passed away, and I cried at her funeral when my school choir sang “Be Not Afraid.” I didn’t weep much in the immediate years that followed, at least not openly as a result of Mom’s death but perhaps indirectly related to it. I definitely felt fear and anger and other feelings linked directly to my loss. Then melancholy hit me like a ton of bricks one day when I was in my early 20s. A kind-hearted friend asked me about my Mom, and since I hadn’t spoken about her to anyone outside the family, I broke down. It was a good relief. The years have brought many phases of anguished.
Mothers Day is never easy. Shopping for my wedding dress without my mother has brought up deep feelings of loss. And occasionally it just hits me hard, on a regular day, pulling me out of my pleasing thoughts. A mother in a dressing room with her daughter and they’re trying on clothes together, complementing on how each other looks. The mother telling the daughter how beautiful she looks.
Or a friend of mine, getting together with her mother for lunch and I can’t even picture what that would be like! I can’t even understand the incredible joy of having lunch right now with Mom! And then I feel that weight in my chest and my stomach gets nauseated. There’s no closure. My grieving stems from having loved so profoundly. I have learned to tune into the feelings I’m sensing and to recognize the love, the pain, and the loss.
2. There are no substitutes.
Nobody can substitute your mother. We love our mothers in our own distinct ways. Our mothers care for us when we’re sick, guide us in life the best ways they can, attend and listen to us, and love us unconditionally. For a mother, her child is always her first importance. And we sense this. We feel it. We recognize it, even if she doesn’t say it.
My mother was past happy when I was born a healthy baby girl. I was told that she called me her little angel. She carried me in her womb for nine months. By the time I was born, we had that permanent bond, and she knew me from that first second of my presence. There’s never going to be a substitute for that person who loved me undoubtedly more than she loved herself. The delight in her eyes when she saw me, the warmth of her arms wrapped around me, the hurt in her eyes when she said farewell are all gestures that I recall the deep love she had for me.
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