I avoid things. I have full on avoided this post for over 2 weeks after I swore I’d write at least every week. It’s time though.
April 2nd was the 1st anniversary of my mother’s death. This year has been like no other. I know so many people lost loved ones this year. Covid. It’s overwhelming when I think about it. Mom did not die because of Covid but how we mourned and how we survived after were greatly impacted. As I’ll discuss below, this isn’t my first loss, but it may very well be the greatest, most difficult. There’s a lot to unpack around it. I hope I can do that here.
- What is the first experience with grief that you remember?
My baby sister died when I was 5 years old. She was born with multiple problems and lived 19 days. This impacted my parents in insurmountable ways. While I am certain that the whole family needed counseling, no one got any. We didn’t believe in things like that. This loss would impact my entire life, up to and including my mother’s death. That said, I do not actually remember much of anything about it. I remember seeing a picture of me at the hospital looking into the glass of the nursery, but do not remember doing it. I remember my Nanny’s maid, (I think her name was Hattie, but I’m not positive), hugging me tight and telling me when she died and that God didn’t make mistakes. I remember holding my paternal grandmother’s hand as we walked to the cemetary behind the little coffin and her telling me that everything would be okay. I wouldn’t say this was grief though. It was loss – loss that I wouldn’t understand until much later.
The first grief I remember is when my maternal grandfather, Dee, died. I was 12. Until that time, I never thought anyone would ever leave. I’m not sure I knew what death even was. Granddaddy got up early one morning with a headache He got up, took some Bayer Aspirin, and then crawled back in bed with my Granny. She said she rolled on her side, he spooned up next to her, and then she heard him take his last breath. Massive heart attack after a long, full life.
My heart was absolutely broken. I remember crying for days. I wrote a poem for his funeral and sobbed as the preacher read it. I couldn’t imagine how life could go on without this wonderful man.
- Who is the most important person you’ve lost? Write about them. Recall specific memories.
This troubles me. Important? Everyone I’ve lost is important. I simply can’t distinguish.
- Is there someone you’ve lost that you’d like to write a letter to? What would you say?
I feel pretty good about my last conversations with everyone. No regrets. Mostly I’d want everyone to know that we’re okay. I’m okay.
- What is your most recent experience with grief? How is it different from earlier experiences?
My mother’s passing last year is the most recent. People say when you lost your mom it is a different kind of grief. If you know, you know. Now I know. I feel the loss of my mother literally every day. This is kind of odd to me because I didn’t talk to her every day. We weren’t bff’s like some women are with their mothers. We were close. I talked to her a few times a week. I usually called her when something was wrong or I needed help, but I didn’t confide in her about everything. And yet, I feel the loss every day. Our family is forever different. A year later, I do still pick up the phone to call her sometimes or just thing “I need to tell mom about this.” I miss her checking on me. I miss her cooking. I miss the way she kept us all together. I’m sure time will heal some of this. I’m also sure that time won’t heal all of it.
- What have you gained through loss? This may only apply if enough time has passed to give you the needed perspective.
Perspective and reflection. Losing someone has a way of showing you what is really important. In many ways, it calls on you to reflect. I think that’s what I’ve gained. Perspective and reflection. How do I want to live so that other’s will reflect on how I’ve made their life better? How can I leave a better legacy?