Sunday, March 22, 2015

The gifts of grief

Every year, as the anniversary of my mother's death approaches I start getting dopey and mopey. Decisions are impossible (even decisions like, "what's for dinner") and I don't want to talk very much. I want to smoke ten thousand packs of cigarettes...even though in my usual life I'm a non-smoker.

It will have been eleven years in May since my mom died and what I know is the following.

Losing your mom is a natural part of life. It's not a supreme tragedy when you compare your grief to the family who has lost a child, or any other loss, really....but what I also know is that comparing grief is worthless. Quality and quantity have no business in grief. What you feel is what you feel and it doesn't matter why. I know this.

Some people take a really long time to process grief and some people move through it quickly. Neither one is correct or better or worse. Losing someone or something close to you becomes part of the fabric that makes your life and whether you see the thread every day or not is personal for you. Sometimes I stare at the thread and I feel like it might strangle me, other times I keep it at the periphery. How much time I spend with it is deeply intimate to me alone and it's okay to honor whatever time I spend or don't spend with it. This holds true for all life experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly. How we process our lives is our decision alone.

Everything that happens to us as we amble along this path leaves its mark on us. People we meet, places we see, people we lose and the minutia of our days inform who we become and who we grow into being. Seeds are planted all along the way and when they're ready they sprout. Grieving my mother has taught me so much about myself.

She was my very best friend in a way that still honored her place as my mother. She was my confidante, my role model (sometimes in how not to be, but mostly in how TO be) and she never disapproved of me in a way that made me feel unworthy. In all ways, she lifted me up and inspired me to be the best version of me that I could be. And so her absence is remarkably hard.

But her presence, if I'm willing to see it, is miraculous. It doesn't mater if her presence is because I make it so in my head, or because I choose to see things that aren't there, or because she's really an ethereal guide speaking from the Great Beyond. I see and feel her influence in myriad ways. And it helps me grieve her little by little as I grow and change as a person.

For me, the grieving will never stop, because I am never the same person from month to month and year to year. As I become a different me, I grieve her physical absence anew. But I also know that if I am open to honoring what she left me: notes, cards, friends who hold memories, and memories of my own, then she will help me and guide me along my road.

It's been eleven years. In the blink of an eye.

Photo Credit: [ henning ] via Compfight cc