Tag Archives: grief

Marking 2 years since Mom died

Mom school

It’s hard to believe it has been two years since my mother died. The world seems like such a different place, even though two years is but a speck over the course of history.

While merely coincidence, Mom’s death seemed to send the universe into a chaotic spiral. I feel like I’m living in perpetual survival mode, just like I did when I was a caregiver.  Mom’s eternal optimism would have been sorely tested over the last year or so.

The grief is less oppressive and not as constant at this point, but it continues to lurk in the dark alleys of my mind, popping out like a villain in a movie from time to time. The “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” mantra hasn’t been silenced quite yet, but I’ve been able to turn down the volume on the second-guessing for the most part.

Just like in this photo of Mom, I will spend the day writing. She always loved this photo, which appeared in the yearbook. Mom took her education seriously, which wasn’t always a given for farm families when crops could trump classes. I inherited a similar love of learning from both of my parents, which is a precious gift that I use every day.

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What is a Memory Bear?

I couldn’t resist sharing this post from Bonnie, who makes the beautiful Memory Bears. This bear could have been made for my Dad, he was the ultimate Notre Dame fan!

As the holidays approach, those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one may be seeking a symbol of comfort and remembrance. A Memory Bear would make a lovely gift.

If you have recommendations on other thoughtful gift ideas for those who are grieving, I would love to hear about them.

As a child, remember holding that favorite teddy bear close to you. What a comforting affect teddy had on us. Memory Bears are very similar. A memory bear is made from your loved ones favorite clothing. Standing 22″ tall, a memory bear is soft and cuddly and just right to hold and hug as you […]

via What is a Memory Bear — Memory Bears by Bonnie

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Thinking of Mom on her birthday

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My mom on her 77th birthday.

Today would have been my mother’s 79th birthday.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that my father outlived my mother. He was 79 when he died.

It’s also hard to believe sometimes that just two years ago, I was celebrating her last birthday alive with her. I’m glad I made the trip, it’s not something I always did, but at least I did it when it counted the most.

After I passed the year mark of my mom’s death, it felt like a veil lifted. I’m more at peace now and less bombarded by flashbacks of her death and final months.

Today I will try to remember the good things: my mother’s corny but infectious sense of humor, that southern accent she never lost, her generous and kind spirit.

How do you mark the birthdays of those who are gone?

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Honoring the departed with gratitude

Today has been the day I have been eyeing on the calendar for quite some time. My mother died one year ago today.

It is hard for me to believe one year has passed since that moment that I dreaded so much, yet brought some peace and stability back to my life. I didn’t want my mother to die too soon, but even more so,  I didn’t want her to suffer.

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But today is not about mourning. I have done enough of that over the past year, and rightfully so. Today I decided to make about gratitude.

As I’ve mentioned previously, my mom always showered kindness and appreciation on those she encountered in her daily life, from the convenience store clerk to the shuttle driver to her doctor. But it was those in the service industry, those who are often overlooked or taken for granted, that my mother really connected with. Sure, sometimes I would internally roll my eyes when Mom would talk my ear off about how the her favorite convenience store clerk was having surgery on her knee and a granddaughter on the way.

But it floored me that when Mom was in the hospital recovering from surgery, not only would she remember the CNA’s name, but her granddaughter’s name as well and that the kid was going to be in a spelling bee. I couldn’t even remember the nursing assistant’s name!

So today, I visited local businesses in my community and handed out thank you cards. For whatever reason, I felt a little silly, but when I saw the smiles light up the faces of the employees, I felt good. I think Mom would be proud that her daughter is carrying on her torch of goodwill.

It’s still a work in progress, but here is a link to the scrapbook I started for my mother.

Mom’s scrapbook

Thank you, dear blogging friends and followers. Your support means so much to me.

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Grief by the numbers

 

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Maxime Perron Caissy/Freeimages

A fellow blogger who recently lost her father posed an interesting question on her blog, which went along the lines of what happens after that first year of loss?

As a society, we tend to mark major life events by months, then years. So what does happen on that first month after the first year marking the death of a loved one? While it’s common for people to mark the six month anniversary of something, the 13th month is not so common.

Soon, I will know, as the one year anniversary of my mother’s death quickly approaches May 21.

I don’t think my grief will suddenly lessen when June 21 rolls around, but perhaps a loosening in the monthly ritual is a part of the healing process. There was at least one month in this first year where I actually didn’t mark the day itself; I thought about it before and after but not on the actual day. At first I felt bad, but then I realized that it was probably a positive sign.

My father’s death was a completely different process. First, there was a greater sense of relief in that death finally freed my father from Alzheimer’s cruel gasp. At 79, Dad had lived a pretty long life and as an almost lifelong smoker, if dementia hadn’t taken him, emphysema (which he had) or lung cancer probably would have. With my mom, even though she was only 2 years younger, I felt like with proper, prompt treatment, she may have had some good years left.

Another difference in the grief process was that my grieving for my dad was cut short due to my mom’s illness. She became ill just six months after my father died. I had to switch gears, letting Dad rest in peace while I poured all of my energy into keeping Mom alive and nursing her back to health. By the time she recovered, Dad had been gone for a year or so and time had began to heal the loss.

In a way though, taking care of Mom helped me feel less guilty about not being there for dad as a caregiver. So while I’m not saying that Mom’s cancer diagnosis was a good thing, there was at least one positive outcome.

After surviving Mother’s Day (which I marked by participating in a charity walk and visiting cats at a shelter) I have now survived every holiday for the first time “motherless.” For those of you have been through the grieving process, I’m sure you can understand my feeling of relief.

 

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May is for Mother

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This is the first Mother’s Day I will experience motherless. At this time last year, Mom was quickly approaching death. In fact, I got her flowers early because I was afraid she might not live until Mother’s Day.

Knowing that would be the last Mother’s Day she would be alive was difficult. How do you express a lifetime of gratitude into a single day?

 

But experiencing Mother’s Day without a living mother is equally as difficult.

It is almost impossible to avoid the holiday. Mother’s Day ads are online, in stores, on TV … reminders to honor your mother are everywhere. I received an email reminder from the florist, to remind me I bought Mom flowers last year, and did I want to order again this year?  I’m sure the business thought this was a good selling tool, but it was just a gut-wrenching reminder of the sadness I felt when placing that order. (On the flip side, Mom loved the flowers.)

I just got back from a visit to what was my parents’ condo. Each trip I am trying to make a few changes, to slowly transition it from a place of sadness and illness, which it became over the last several years of my parents’ life, to a peaceful mountain respite that my parents enjoyed for many years.

My mother’s perfume still lingers in the bedroom. Of course I reflected on the events of last year while I was there, but I busied myself by putting together new furniture and rearranging things to make it my own. It’s what my parents would want, and I left the condo feeling fairly good about the progress.

And now, a week of nonstop Mother’s Day advertisements to navigate. I know at least a few fellow bloggers who have lost their mothers in recent years, so I know you understand how it feels. Certainly just because our mothers are no longer living doesn’t mean we cannot honor their life on Mother’s Day, and that’s what I intend upon doing.

How will you mark Mother’s Day?

 

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Finding grace amidst grief

It was part of my job to follow Nancy Reagan’s funeral on Friday. But it was also a lesson on grace, grief and choosing love at the right moment.

The fact that daughter Patti Davis and Nancy Reagan had a difficult relationship is well known. It has been written about and documented in numerous books and interviews by Davis and Reagan as well as political pundits and gossip columnists.

Imagine the pressure you would feel when asked to speak at the funeral of a relative who you had a love/hate relationship with, a funeral that was being broadcast to millions of people across the nation.

Oh sure, Patti Davis has led a life of privilege, but money and power doesn’t guarantee happiness.

Davis recounted a humorous prank that Nancy played on Ronald, a moment she relived with her mother in the days before her death. After telling the story, Davis said at the time she didn’t realize that would be the last time she would hear her mother laugh.

That really struck a personal chord with me, because I also think back to the last time my mother laughed and made me laugh. I can remember the moment in great detail. It was the day we started her morphine, finally, after battling the doctor and home hospice for more pain relief. A few doses in, Mom woke up for a nap and wanted to get up. I helped her out of bed and asked her how she was feeling, looking for any signs of the common side effects, such as nausea or dizziness.

Mom grabbed the puke bucket that I had placed on the bed in preparation for any such issues, and placed it on her head (yes, it was empty.) She then danced a little jig.

It was the only time that entire last month of my mother’s life that I genuinely laughed.

An hour or two later, Mom was vomiting into the bucket.

But back to Davis. She didn’t ignore the difficult relationship she had with her mother, saying that there were never any shades of grey in their relationship, but instead bright colors and passionate emotions. She took responsibility for her actions while not exonerating her mother, as death does not wipe clean a person’s past transgressions.

On Friday though, Davis chose love, and she did so with grace and humor.

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