Archive | January 2016

My Surviving Self


Not long after my Mother passed, someone asked me “What would you say to her if she were here now? What would you ask her?” Fighting back tears in my eyes, I sputtered out “Am I going to be ok?”. I had never faced such an emotional challenge without her. I felt so much uncertainty. In all honesty, I didn’t feel like I would ever be ‘ok’ again. I was crying far more than once a day, I felt so lonely, I did not enjoy my job, I had no idea what I wanted other than simply my Mother. Here. Healthy. Right beside me. I was simply hopeless that I could ever truly experience joy again.

Losing my Mom has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. So many people said “it gets better, it gets easier”……that hasn’t been the case for me. The hole in my heart will always be there, but it’s the acceptance of what will always be that has been liberating. I liken it to adapting to a new way of life, one where you carry your broken heart with you everyday and learn to be happy despite it.

As I ponder all the lessons I have learned during this first year without my Mom, I thought of what I might say to my newly bereaved self a year ago. It would have been nice to have known what wisdom would come to exist amidst all the brutal uncertainty I was feeling.


Dear My Grieving Soul,

In the coming days you will experience a multitude of emotions. You will rejoice in your mother’s peace, freedom from suffering, and her eternal life in Gods kingdom. At the same time, your heart will be shattered into a million pieces and you will be left asking “why?” – why did she have to get so sick? Why did such a wonderful Mother have to suffer so much? You will mourn all the future milestones she won’t be a part of. You will fantasize about what life might have been like in the last 11 years had cancer not snuck in and taken over. You will physically be able to feel your heart break and be so physically and mentally exhausted you cry at the very slightest trigger. Almost automatically you will have zero tolerance for other people’s B.S. You will learn that great grief only exists where great love is present and that your Mother’s love endures forever. You will discover a new depth of compassion for anyone suffering through illness. When passing by hospitals, your heart will ache, thinking of families that may be caring for a dying loved one. You will become much more comfortable crying in front of others. You will even reconnect with a childhood friend and find comfort in sharing grief over the loss of your wonderful Mothers.

You will slowly put one foot in front of the other. It may not feel like living at first, but one day you will find yourself laughing so hard with a dear friend you can hear your mother’s voice rejoice in your laughter. As if she is thanking God that sound has returned to your life. You will begin to understand, and more importantly, feel in your heart how Mom would want you to live. Knowing she would want you to be happy on your birthday rather than sad at her absence.

You will finally take a stand for yourself and for your own personal health. After almost 20 years, you will start swimming laps again and no, you won’t sink. By the end of the summer, you will be swimming 2,000 yards regularly. After a lengthy sleep study and diagnosis, You will finally know what quality sleep feels like. Then one day you will look back on just how far you have come and realize your Mom has been with you every step of the way.

You have to hang on tight through all the awful because life will never be the same again. But do know you will figure out how to make a beautiful life for yourself despite this loss. It may be a work in progress, but it is all part of healing. And yes, you will be “ok”, your Mom will always make sure of that.

Love Always,
Your Surviving Self

What is something you would say to your former self in light of great loss?
What kind of lessons has your grief journey taught you?
Please share any lessons you have learned from great loss in the comments section below.

This entry was posted on January 24, 2016. 2 Comments

Just another January?


January has always been a tough month for no other reason than its usually cold, snowy, dark and just plain boring. And I’ll admit that its often left me feeling the blues as I yearn for warmer weather. However, this year January takes on a whole new meaning. It was the end of January last year when Mom passed away. These recent weeks it has been difficult to not reflect back on that time of extreme stress and suffering. I know the coming days will continue to be a reminder of all the despair felt only a year ago. It may have only been one year, but I feel like I have lived about 5 years in the span of 12 months.

I am always looking for ways in which my Mom is still with me. Whether its a slight flicker of a light, seeing a cardinal, or finding a lucky penny in my path, I am always open to receiving signs from her. One of the way is through special songs on the radio. In fact, as we were planning the flowers for her funeral, one of her favorite songs began playing at the florist, which for me was a sign that her love was still with us. Recently, I came across a song by a new country artist named Cam. Mom was not all that much of a country music fan, but the lyrics to the song ‘Village’ really spoke to me. Its from the perspective of someone looking down on loved ones from heaven.

Some of the lyrics go –
“your whole heart is a village
everyone you love has built it
and I’ve been working there myself
and that’s where I’ll be, with a front row seat
to watch you live your life well
and I KNOW you’ll live your life well”

Isn’t that what Mom has always wanted, to watch me ‘live my life well’? Whether that’s been physically by my side or from heaven above? I’ll admit that one of the toughest challenges in all of this is figuring out how to still create a beautiful life for myself despite her absence. I feel like I figure it out a little more everyday……

So, no matter what you may be going through, be brave enough to hold onto the hope that life will be beautiful again. Life is certainly different, but have faith that those we love are still with us everyday, watching us grow and living our life well. And if we are lucky, we may run across reminders of their continued presence and everlasting love.