I can’t recall how many times I’ve thought about my mom over the past 8 years. Quite possibly more times than when she was here on earth. I wake up thinking of her. I think about her when I look in the mirror each morning, and see faint resemblances of my mom in my own reflection. Sometimes I think of her when I hear the familiar and comforting tone of her voice inside my own words when I speak. And oftentimes something- a song, a picture, an artifact, a scent- will trigger a forgotten moment I experienced with my mom, and that memory will pop into my mind.
When I started this phase of my life 8 years ago, I never dreamed that I would be able to think about my mom without completely crumbling. While there are still times when the thought of her not physically being here can still overwhelm me with sadness, over time those moments have become less frequent, less vivid, and less familiar.
I think that’s one of the toughest, yet beautiful parts of reaching 8 years of a grief healing journey.
Over time things, including memories, start to fade. Sounds and mental images of our loved ones and the experience of the loss itself start to lose their vividness. We’ve heard the phrase that time heals all wounds, but not because we’ve forgotten our loved ones, but because through this post-loss journey, we, the grievers, experience life a little differently. We feel our emotions a little deeper, and connect a little more with other grievers and allies. We empathize with others who are grieving and experience the concept of time a little differently. We appreciate things that others may overlook, and see the world for what it is- a temporary gift. And, most of all, we create new relationships with our loved ones that is solely spiritual, and those spiritual experiences and memories become stronger as those physical memories begin to fade. While it’s not time itself that’s healing our wounds, it’s the learning and the awareness that we gain during that time that helps us to navigate and embrace a post-loss existence.
I promise you that I wouldn’t be able to explain those words in the above paragraph to my 31 year old self who just watched her mother take her last breath. But 8 years later, I can say with confidence and conviction, that although the vibrance of who my living mother was has faded in my mind, the learning, the awareness, and the spiritual connection I have with her is a bright light in a world that I thought would always be dark.
A grief healing journey is different for everyone. Each year of my journey has brought its own uniqueness to my life. There is no timeline or expectation for when you are supposed to be completely “healed” after loss. Loss changes who you are, and at first, it might feel rocky, but over time the hope and dream is that a grief journey can help you discover things about yourself, the world around you, and your loved one that maybe you didn’t see before.
Friends, life is beautiful. It’s special. It’s meaningful. Notice those around you. Ask people how they’re doing. Make time for friends. Don’t lose sight of what’s important. Go on vacations. Put yourself in other’s shoes. Fall in love. Love yourself. Pay attention to your children (even if they’re already grown). Visit your grandparents. Create opportunities to give back. Call your mother.
And if you are like me, and your mother is no longer here physically, call her anyway.
Just say the words in your heart and in your mind. She’ll be listening.
“Hey mom, it’s me Steph. Thinking about you today. I know you’re dancing among the seastars”
Other posts about my mom Judy
Happy Birthday Mom
Judy’s Tales: The Ketchup Incident
Judy’s Tales: The Waterfall Incident