It’s been almost five years since my mother passed. She left this realm a few weeks after Mother’s Day, so every time May rolls around, my heart feels inside out and raw. Finding a place to start talking about my journey never really happens, so I’m just going to free-write and see what comes out. Bear with me. I know discussing death makes others uncomfortable if they haven’t faced loss. Understandably so, but know that I am writing for those that have. There’s this unexplainable connection you feel to someone when you discover you have experienced the same tragedy. Sharing these words will undoubtedly be cathartic for me, but my ultimate hope is that it resonates with someone who knows these depths. If you have lost your mother, know that my heart feels for yours, and I’m sending you love this weekend.
There was care and sincerity in everything she did. I can still see her making homemade popcorn on the stove every night, or sketching with charcoal for hours. She was everything – light, dark, soft, tough. A word master that could lift any spirit above a setback. When she passed suddenly, switching up every aspect of my life was all that felt “right.” I quit college, my two jobs, my relationship, friendships. It didn’t stop there though. I moved to three cities, in three separate time zones, in three years. I took risks I used to be afraid to and pushed myself further than I had in the past. There were detours along the way where I fostered toxic friendships that blurred my self-worth or gave my time and energy to unworthy men. In retrospect, I see how this was my subconscious form of grieving – making the world I once knew unrecognizable. If anything remotely felt similar to life before her passing, it had to go. Ultimately, I’m grateful for all of it. This adventure of highs and lows has led me to profound friendships, my proudest accomplishments, and most importantly, an unwavering love for the woman I became.
Grief will consume every piece of your soul if you’re not careful. I never understood the magnitude of irreversible until I lost her. It is a wrenching sadness. For a long time, I didn’t want happy memories if she couldn’t be here for them. There was this incredible guilt even thinking about finding joy again. I went through waves of not wanting any milestone – marriage, children, career success. I have had a major change of heart since those days, but it took realizing how grief could become something entirely different if I left it to its own devices. It’s wild how blinding it is. The pain feels so justified. Trust and believe; I get it. Going through the enormity of loss requires you to be honest about the heartache. Feel it in its entirety. It will always be there in some way, as it should be. She will be a part of me and my life forever. But, there were waves of grief that swallowed me whole… waves that were all-consuming, alarming.. it’s from there I understood it was the agony I needed to begin releasing, not the person.
The thing with energy is that you can’t hide anything from it. If you’re aching and crumbling internally, putting a brave face on to the world might fool others, but it doesn’t fool energy. Justifying pain won’t stop it from causing profound damage. Energy does not register how we differentiate between low vibrations. When I got closer to myself and my understanding of our experience here, I was hyper aware of the way every feeling was making a physiological + subconscious impression, regardless of how much I deemed it necessary. Realizing that everything is recorded in our energy equally was the same moment I understood source is never judging, and that I have the capacity to use this as a catalyst into real meaning. Full surrender was the only option for me from that point on. I had to choose life. Not just any experience, but an abundantly beautiful, purposeful, and courageous one.
I have a long way to go still, and by no means have this figured out. I miss her all the time. Every day. Quite honestly, I’m shocked I’m on solid ground sometimes. And, other times, I’m still not. But two truths always stayed with me no matter where my journey led.
1. Nothing will ever be as painful as this.
This first certainty gave me strength in the darkest corners. I would tell myself: this is the worst of it Rita. No other experience in this earthly realm will ever be this unbearable. You’re getting the worst of it over with. If you make it through, all that follows will be a breeze. Five years later, the mantra “You’ve already survived the worst. It only gets more beautiful from here” still gets me through anything my perception tries to deem difficult.
2. Pain will not be what defines her memory.
This is what motivated me to begin the climb out of rock bottom. No matter how ugly the residual effects of loss got, I always remembered that my mother taught me how to love. I refused to make her memory one of heartache. She deserves so much more. It’s been a slow process of small steps forward, backward, sideways, and spiraling downward – but no matter how far I detour, my heart returns to “I will always do right by her and her love.” I still cry, but I found far more reasons to smile. I see her in everything that’s beautiful.
I chose to make all of this have meaning – she became my REASON.
My why. Why I give to others selflessly. Why I forgive unconditionally. Why nothing can harden my heart. Why I release fear. Why I stand up for what is right. Why I listen more. Why I never put a limit on any goal. Why I push myself to succeed every single day.
Honoring our loved ones never ends, but the pain of grieving can become something so beautiful if we allow it. We choose if we continue the cycle of life. That’s the beauty of death; it teaches us that our time here is fleeting and it’s meant to be enjoyed. The most significant way I’ve healed through death is creating new life within myself and others. Redefine your purpose. Give to everyone. Make people smile. Find beauty in your surroundings. Become a light. Help others without reason. Be of service to all, even those you don’t want to. It’s how I healed anyway… how I learned to start living again. My brother shared a story with me on grief recently. I think a few years ago I may have found it offensive, but now, after all my soul has experienced in the depths of the grieving process, I find so much beauty in how deeply it resonated with me. I’ll end this article by leaving it here.
“There was a father and a son. The father’s son went to war, and the son died in the war. The whole town finds out, and that same night, the father goes out dancing. Now the whole town starts gossiping, “How could he do this? He just learned that his son has died.” So someone asked him, “How can you do this? You just learned that your son has died. You should be at home grieving.” And the father responded, “Sooner or later, I’m going to have to get over this. This is the worst thing that could ever happen to me – to lose my son. I’m going to have to move on, or else this will kill me. I’m choosing sooner.”