Are your parents still alive? Have you experienced watching your mother or your father’s last breath? Did you take the time to think about it or maybe even take the time to put a few words in writing? They gave you birth. They provided you the flavor of their love, their beliefs and their hard-earned wisdom. They weren’t perfect, but even here, they taught you a way to live, a way to fight, a way to forgive and a way to move on. The “grieving process” is a time to reflect on the many gifts and challenges that remain alive in you because you shared in life with them.
Life After Mother's Death
Shortly after the night of my mother’s death, I sat in my living room to reflect on the feelings of the day. I journaled some of these feelings and shared them in an article entitled, When it’s Your Mom. I believe writing down these feelings helped me to reach in and get in touch with how I was feeling. Rather than simply feeling sad, there were many feelings, some of them surprising. The spread and flavor of the various feelings felt organic and honest to the relationship my mother and I shared.
It’s been a year now and life goes bustling on. New life and new love abound as children, nieces and nephews find love, get married and have babies. My brothers and I spend more time with my father, keeping those home fires burning. We are the only ones in the world who remember what it was like, to be poor and not know it, because they did without. We recall arguments with our mother about TV ads she insisted were pejorative towards women and, of course, the fact that she was right. And we remember with pride how our mother went from an eighth-grade educated mother of three, to a college graduate mother of four.
I described one of our holidays in the article, Our First Christmas without Mom. We live close together and the cemetery where my mother is buried is within 200 yards of each of our home. My father continues to visit every day, leaving her some piece of fruit each day. I’m sure he has made a few animal families very happy. We each have some of her ashes and we have “taken her” on vacations and to some of her favorite places through the year.
Today, while my brother and his daughter “take her” on a hike in the Grand Canyon, my father, wife and I took her to Schoepfle Gardens. She loved to garden and this was one of her favorite places. We sat on the bench and looked over the valley as she had so many times in the past. Afterward, we had lunch and my father shared other places he would like to take her - and I’m sure we will.
Ways to Remember and Heal
In my last podcast with Dr. Kalish, Finding Solace in a Healthy Grieving Process with Dr. Daniel Kalish, he discussed the year he spent after his father’s death. Taking the time to reflect on all that you were given keeps you in touch with the giver. It helps you to remember who you are. It helps you to chart new life courses that these changes carve out for you.
Consider creating a few of your own ways to remember both alone and with others. In our podcast together, Amy Morin shared a few of her own ideas after the loss of her husband in, Mental Strength in the Face of Loss with Amy Morin. Talk about it with family, friends and consider journaling. It helps to put into words the way you are feeling and it can help others to know how you still feel about the one you love.