The death of a loved one is always painful. We all know that. What’s the worst kind of loss? A sudden death, such as a heart attack, auto accident; or watching a loved one suffer a long painful illness?
The worst kind of loss is our own. It’s Mine. It’s Yours. Today marks three years since my mother died. It was cathartic to write about her death in the past; during the early months of my grief. Three years. Is that long enough to “move on?” I have come a long way in the past three years, and have come to realize that the grief I feel from losing my mother isn’t something I will ever get over. But is something I will get through.
For quite a while after Mother’s death, I felt like a traveler who had misplaced my compass. Maybe that sounds strange, since I was 55 years old when she died. She was such a wise and virtuous woman. The only person I turned to for guidance, understanding - and most importantly, unconditional love. For quite a while after her death, I felt vacuous and lonely. I had a wonderful husband and others around me who love me, but it wasn’t the same.
My mother and me (circa 1954)
In the early months of my grief, I didn’t want to go anywhere. In part, because I was afraid I would burst into tears in the supermarket. I would also get angry seeing people going about their business as though the world was the same. It isn’t, it will never be. One of the most incredible human beings who ever lived is gone forever. How could the earth continue on it’s axis?
I understand that one’s grief is so personal that you can’t share it. I believe the level of grief you feel, and the emotions tied to that grief, are as individual and deep as the relationship you had with the loved one for whom you grieve. It is a direct correlation to how much space in your heart and psyche the loved one occupied. It is about adjusting to a “new normal”. That hole in your heart is a large as the space that person filled.
Over the past three years, I have taken a new look at my mother and her life. Not just as my mother, but as a woman. Things about her that slipped by me during her life. I have gained a new perspective of the things she endured - and the things she doled out. She has taken her rightful place within me, not as a saint, a sage, or anything of the sort. She was a human being. An incredible, brave and wise woman.
That compass? I realize that it really was only misplaced, not lost. All the direction and moral values she instilled in me are forever with me. I will never have another mother, but I am forever grateful for the one I had. I can still hear her voice, smell her perfume, see her beautiful hazel eyes, and ponder the wisdom she bequeathed.
No pity party for me today; I will smile and be grateful for the 55 years I had her in my life.