Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Long, Long Way From Home

My mother with her daughters and daughter-in-law
Dear friend,

When I hugged you in church I didn't expect you to say anything. You were wiping your eyes, and I knew exactly what was going through your mind. You were thinking "What's WRONG with me? She was 97 years old, and so ready for this. I know I'll see her again some day. She's not in pain any more, she's in the presence of God. Why can't I stop crying?"

I was thinking the exact same thing when my mother died more than three years ago. Everyone goes through grief and loss a little differently, but this is what I've learned since then:

You don't stop missing her. Not a day goes by that I don't think of Mom and wish I could tell her what a Boy has done, or ask her how to fix chocolate that has separated, or share with her something I read. You don't stop missing her, but...

She's not gone. I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe in souls and in memories and you cannot love someone so completely without having some of them imprinted on your own soul. You will find that when you're wondering how your mom would deal with a situation, you will KNOW, and you'll act accordingly.

You'll remember her at her best. In my mind, my mother is eternally hovering between 40 and 60, the ages I knew her as an adult and as the wisest, kindest, funniest, smartest person I would ever know. The woman who could, given ten minutes and the right size screwdriver, fix anything or anybody. Her later years, when she was increasingly confused and immobile, were not her essence and you'll remember her essence.

You'll never stop crying, but you won't cry so often or so publicly. Carry tissues for at least a year because you'll find yourself overcome in the strangest places and for the oddest reasons. Then you'll laugh because you know your mother would have thought that was funny.

Don't feel guilty when your brain tells you it was the right time for her to die and don't be embarrassed when your heart cries that it misses her terribly. There's nothing wrong with talking to her, and taking comfort in "hearing" her response.

You are not a motherless child. You are imprinted with her love.

Praying for your comfort, my friend,


  1. So hard. You never stop missing your Mother. That is what my Mother said about her Mother. Her mother died when she was about 16 years old. I can't imagine losing a Mother at that age. But it is never easy. Susan

  2. What a beautiful post. Such good advice from my perspective in the grief process. My mom died last September. My sister and I often laugh/cry about how the grief ninja can sneak up on you anywhere. I most especially love your last sentence about not being a motherless child. Such a lovely reminder that her love is with us always.

    Around the time my mom died, you wrote a great post about always sending sympathy cards because you appreciated them so much in addition to the in person hugs and words of comfort. I've taken that advice to heart. Like your husband, I'm a CPA. (Happy tax season!) Having a lot of clients means I usually have a couple each year that pass away. I've taken an extra minute to send a card with a specific memory of that client to their spouse or loved ones and I've heard such kind gratefulness in their voices when I talk with them afterwards. Thank you for that excellent advice.

    1. "The grief ninja"...that's the perfect way to describe it. Happy tax season to you as well! May your software be bugless and your clients be patient.