Death has the power to turn your life upside down. When my mom died, I felt lost, alone, sad, and empty. The death of my mom left a gaping hole in my life and heart that nothing could fill. But eventually I learned to fight back against the grief and sadness, and I began to live again.
Since my mom died, there are times when I just can’t sleep. I lay down, close my eyes, and my mind fills with thoughts of my mom. When she first died, I hoped that if I was thinking of my mom when I fell asleep, she would come to me in my dreams. But that rarely happened. Most of the time, I would lie awake, thoughts swirling around in my head keeping me from the sleep I so desperately needed.
Over the past 14 years (since my grandfather died), I’ve learned a lot about myself, about life, and about death, especially since my mom died. I lost five close members of my family in eight and a half years, but never really grieved until I lost my mom, and then I couldn’t stop crying. I’ve seen firsthand what grief can do if you don’t move past it. It takes control of your life and consumes you. About 5 years before my mom died, a long-time friend of my parents lost his wife to cancer. He never let go of the anger, the grief, and the pain from his wife’s death. He never accepted that his wife was truly gone or tried to move forward. The last time I saw this man, he was angry, bitter, and lost in a world of grief and loneliness. He wasn’t living, just existing. It was sad to see.
Acceptance Is Hard but Possible
It took about 3 years for me to be able to begin living without a constant cloud of grief, and almost 5 years to truly accept that my mom was gone. Acceptance was the true key to moving forward, but I didn't do it without a lot of anger and sadness first. And there are times when the cloud of grief looms over me, but I've learned to let myself feel - cry the tears I needed to, scream in anger, or just sit silently - until the feeling passes. Yes, sometimes I just want to be left alone in my own world of sadness, and it takes work to move forward, break out of my "funk," put a smile on my face, and truly feel happy again. But I do it and not just for me. I also do it for my mom. She wouldn't have wanted me to live my life grieving her loss. My mom was dead, but I had an entire life ahead of me. She would have wanted me to have the best life I could. I needed to learn to live without her in my life, no matter how difficult or inconceivable that was to me. There are days when I still can't believe my mom has been gone for almost 6 years.
Bad Days Come, and Now They Go
This time of year is hard for me. First the date of my mom's birthday passes, then the last time she was hospitalized, her last surgery (after which she almost died), the day she was released from the hospital because she wanted to die at home, the last Halloween with her grandkids (my mom went all out on holidays), the last night I spent with her (which was the last night of her life), and the day she died. This time of year it's easy to get caught up in old feelings and grief, but I try to counter that by remembering something my mom said or did that made me smile. I can always come up with something because I know I frustrated her at times. We were very similar in some ways and complete opposites in others.
Fight Back With Love
Death has power over the ones who are left behind. The death of my mother almost destroyed me. I was immersed in a world of pain and guilt, and if I had stayed there, I would have destroyed not only my life, but the lives of my kids too. I couldn’t do that to them. My mom taught me the power of family love. Our family is small, but we are close. My core family – my husband, my son, and my daughter – mean the world to me and are what keep me going. They helped to heal and continue to be there for me when times get tough. The power of love is my power over death.
I also hold on tightly to the quote by Thomas Campbell: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” My mom is alive in my heart. My mom is alive in the hearts of all those who loved her and who she loved. She touched so many lives before she died with her kindness and caring, and my mom is still remembered by many.