How did you get over your mother’s death? A question I’ve been asked by friends. Getting over a mother’s death is easier on the lips than the person.
I could not let my guard down or I would fall apart. I could not ask for help since I did not know how. I could not give in completely to grief. I removed all of my mother’s pictures because they made me vulnerable and I needed to be in control of my grief. When I had a terrible longing for her, I’d smell her dresses and hats in the closet and for a second I’d feel her again. Then the familiar lump in my throat and jerking pain in my chest would begin. I’d give way to the smallest cry but stop myself abruptly. My body would stiffen and I’d stand tall, close the door and go on with life, not giving reality the grip needed to bring me back. It was excruciating but I refused to let go. I was strong because it was what I was used to, and besides that, I had no idea how to ask someone to be strong for me, so I had to hide my feelings until I had time and energy for the repercussion of acceptance.
When my mother died 13 years ago, people told me time would heal my pain. I was 28, an only child and a single mother, so this was well-received. I couldn’t wait for time to take over, but exactly how much time? Years began to pass and I felt no healing. I was fraying, barely coping with denial when my daughter said to me, “…you changed…you’re…kinda…just here.” That was the moment I realized that controlling my feelings was not helping my daughter and it was not time that heals, but what’s done within that time. I could’ve been infused with infinity, but if I hadn’t learned to accept my mother’s death, time would have just been a continuous form of torture.
I surrendered to the grieving process and made a conscious decision to accept my mother’s death. One night I spoke these words aloud for the first time, “My mom is dead…” A day later I was struck with a pain to the stomach so intense it dropped me to my knees and swiped the breath from my lungs. I couldn’t move. I stayed on the floor crying and feeling the jagged pain I had suppressed for the past five years. I cried for the next three hours. I talked to my mom that day and I said good-bye. After being in denial for years I was able to believe she was gone. I was finally able to let my mom go. Acceptance was a welcomed journey, a process that no amount of time could heal without my expressed consent.
How did I get over my mother’s death? I didn’t. I got through it and on anniversaries and holidays, sometimes I find myself getting through it again.