The day my life changed FOREVER…
The grieving process was something I didnt think about much until December, 31 2010-a day I will NEVER forget. I was outside hanging with kids in the neighborhood when my uncle called. Why was he calling? What could he possibly want? We didn’t talk on the phone that often. “Your mom wants you go come home now!” Huh? Why do I have to come home now when it’s only 6pm? It wasn’t even dark out. I was so upset with my mom for wanting me home so soon (I was very sheltered, so getting out was exciting for me) but what really shocked me was seeing my uncle in the car because he usually doesn’t go to treatments with her.
My shock quickly turned to fear…
I quickly became scared+frightened because I could see my mom didn’t feel good. I knew she had dialysis that day, but what I didn’t know had passed out in the parking lot after having her treatment. We didn’t make it into the house long before my something else happened and I frantically called 911.
My dad and I followed the ambulance to the hospital but my mom died from a seizure shortly after we arrived. I left without my mother that night. She was a sickly woman, but not to the point that we were expecting her passing so soon. Just the day before we were planning what virgin daiquiris we were going to make for the countdown.
With Mother’s Day just passing, my emotions are slightly go up and down. I know I am not the only one that feels this way during Mother’s Day, or on any day in general, when You’re really missing someone. I just want to share a few things that I have learned on my personal journey dealing with grieving.
Feeling upset and blaming yourself….
Anger and guilt are normal stages of grief. According to the “The Five Stages of Grief- An Examination of the Kubler-Ross Model” by Christina Gregory PhD, guilt is paired with the bargaining stage. Raise your hand if you’ve had your fair share of bargaining with God, or anyone! I remember bargaining with God to bring my mother back. We would all go to church together as a family, I wouldn’t take for granted the time we’d have with one another, I would be on my very best behavior…you get the picture? I would do anything to bring her back.
Then the “What if’s” starting to flood my mind. What if there was something I could’ve done differently? What if I answered questions faster while at the hospital to help them get her treatment quicker? I hated myself for a long time for being mean and upset as she was on her way home, for being selfish because I just wanted to stay outside and hang out. I blamed myself for everything.
Overtime I have learned there are certain things that we can’t go back and change. Some things are simply out of our control no matter how many times we try to figure out ways to change the outcome. I have learned to take this experience for what it is, and learn from it. Cherish the time you have with your loved ones and don’t take them for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t treat my mother badly and we had an awesome relationship. But that particular day, I wish I was more selfless about coming home. This experience has also helped me realize quickly life can be taken away. How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone (James 4:14). Our lives are short, we should try to focus less on being angry and blaming and instead cherish every moment we have with one another.
Their Grief ≠Your Grief…
When we returned home from the hospital, I remember my dad started to pack away some of my mother’s belongings. I was very confused and upset. All I wanted to see from him was emotion. I wanted him to cry with me. To tell me how he felt. I was hurt, thinking he didn’t love my mom as much because he didn’t cry.
Years later, I overheard him having a conversation with a friend. He was talking about when his wife, my mother, passed away. He told his friend that while he was in the shower, all he could do was cry. I remember him saying he had to be strong for me. I felt both relieved and sad at the same time. I was relieved because it put to rest the thought I had from my dad showing no emotions. I was then sadden after my putting myself in his position and thinking about how he truly felt by losing someone he spend a great time of his life with. This made since as to why he began to pack some of her things away. Just because I wanted to hold on to everything doesn’t mean he had to also. Maybe just staring at her things in their room was just too much for him to handle at the time.
Being young and unable to comprehend my dads actions, I completely misjudged. My dad didn’t just lose my mom that night. He lost the love of his LIFE. They had been together since my mom was a sophomore in high school. They had been through so much together, and just like that she was gone. Im sure he couldn’t even organize all of his emotions that day. I had to realize that just because I was grieving a certain way, it doesn’t mean others will too. I may cry if I’m hurting or upset while other may write, go for a run, or have some other outlet.
Grieving is something that never goes away….
I still can recall that New Year’s Eve like it was yesterday and still get teary eyed. No matter how much time that passes since your loss, it can still hurt. Fast forward to 13 years later after my mom’s passing, I’m still not over losing her. One thing I want you to know, regardless of what stage you’re in, dealing with grievance is there is nothing that you are going to get over it’s nearly just something that you learn to cope+deal with better. Some days will be more manageable, some days wont. Please don’t feel like there is something wrong with you. It is normal+human to still have bouts of sadness for missing the person you love.
Memories are EVERYTHING and no one can take them away…
When we left the hospital and got home, I grabbed a picture of my mom, held it, and cried. I was afraid that I would forget how she looks. I called her cellphone just to hear her voice of at the end prompting callers to leave a message. I have learned that even though you won’t remember every single memory about your late loved one, I can guarantee there will be some things that you will remember and will hold near and dear to your heart.
So never be afraid of letting go of the physical, material and tangible things about your loved one because you have those memories that nobody can take away from you. I can still picture my mom’s smile, her smell, her laugh, the funny things she used to say to me. Hearing her voice on a tape just like music to my ears. Its like an old song I can recall that I haven’t heard in a while. The best part, however, is that I don’t need to necessarily hold on to a tape to remember her voice. I can still recall her voice in my head (I promise I’m not crazy) and remember how she sounds.
Out of site is NEVER out of mind…
Even though my mom is not with me physically here in the flesh, I do still talk to her at night or whenever I need a listening ear. I live my life is if she still here and I try my hardest to do things that will make her proud. I use that as motivation to keep pushing+doing better. I asked myself what would I do if my mom was here? What advice would she give me? I cope with her absence by living is if I was in her presence. I still look to her as motivation to keep going when times get hard. She really set the bar for me on how what kind of mother I should be. She did everything for me and I strive to be just like she was.
Holidays are bitter sweet…
Please know that holidays are going to be tough at times, especially in the beginning. They are still tough for me some times and its decade later. I know some people try to do things to distract themselves. Other people are more proactive and have celebrations as if their love ones are there or will hold something in their honor. Just know that there’s nothing wrong with you because you or sad during the holidays and don’t feel bad for it. I understand that other people have their loved ones there to enjoy the holidays with them. Sometimes I’m guilty of feeling like a Debbie downer or negative Nancy because I don’t want to be all jumping for joy during these holidays. Mother’s Day has come and gone and I wish my mother was here in person to share the day with me. I see other people enjoying the presence of their mother and I don’t have that. I do have my own children now, that celebrate with me. She may not be with me as my mom but I do see little pieces of her in each of my children and for that I can celebrate!
How do you cope with losing a loved one? What advice can you give to people who are grieving?