1,096 Days Alone
It has been three years...1,096 days...since I have heard my mama's voice or felt her hugs. I lost her to cancer after an ugly three year battle. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her. The pain is as real as the day I lost her. She was a huge part of my life, my support system and my best friend. That's her holding me (the grumpy baby) and my brother.
In America we shun grief. As soon as the body/ashes are in the ground or air, our society seems to think we instantly return to life before loss, but in truth I think many of us can never be the person we were before the loss. Not to say that we aren't still able to have fun and live, but that person we were before loss, well she seems far away.
We ask people "how are you" and the answer we anticipate is "great". We don't want to hear the truth. We don't want to take the time to support people. We want everyone to appear perfect and unfazed by the life around them. I don't think that's healthy for our society. We need to accept that we are human. No matter how hard we try we are emotional beings. Even the wise elephant mourns their loss years after.
We as mamas need to start the change; embrace each other in all our delightful imperfection, allow each other to truly grieve, and give it time. At three years out I am now able to talk about my mom for about ten minutes before I tear up. That took three years. Unreal. That hole will never be filled where my mom once was. She was kind and loving and she'd give you a whoopin' if you earned it. She was funny and smart and knew how to make just about anything. I have her on a pedestal of perfection, though I can admit she wasn't perfect, I like to remember all the fun we had. My memories are sweet and when I dream of her I feel like I truly spent the day with her. Those tiny dreams are such wonderful gifts. So as I embrace the day I lost my mama, I shall share with you five things to help your loved ones grieve.
1 Give it Time
Grief doesn't just end when everyone else throws away the obituary card. Know that randomly at a smell or a sound your loved one will burst into tears for reasons you can't even fathom. Be thankful you don't understand, it means you haven't lost someone yet, but someday when you do, this friend that you took the time to pick back up will be right there helping you up too.
2 Random Acts of Kindness
Send a text, postcard, carrier pigeon...whatever it takes, but drop a random line to that loved one. You don't have to say much, you can just say you love them, send a joke, a random meme, it doesn't really matter what. The point is putting yourself in their path at a random time in the day that will bring a smile to their face and give them a feeling that they aren't alone in this journey called life.
Truly listen. The broken hearted don't need the speech that everything will be okay, that the lost loved one is in a better place, or that all things happen for a reason. All these do is cause pain or anger or a feeling of separation. There are no words you can say to make it better. It will never be the way it was before the loss, telling a daughter who watched her mother suffer and rot from cancer, or a mother whose child died that all things happen for a reason just adds to the sickness of despair and feeling out of control. Faith is beautiful, I do know my mom is in a better place, sure I'll make it through life without her, and yes maybe I will understand why by some design I had to watch my mom suffer for a good reason, but that doesn't change the now. Don't fill the silence with words, just sit down in the mud with them and be there to hold them. Listen to their ramblings...oh I can cry ramble so well. The best thing you can say is I'm here no matter what. You can't fix the pain, so just be there.
Simply remembering the lost loved ones birthday or when they passed and making that note to your friend will fill them with love and let them know that the pain they carry every day is seen. That they are seen and loved. Put it on your calendar as a reoccurring event and just send a text that day saying that you're thinking of them. There is so much power shared when you don't feel alone.
This one takes a few years, but encourage and help your friend share something that their lost loved one enjoyed with others. My mom loved to read, to sew, bake, and craft. And to celebrate her awesomeness I started writing and published a Young Adult series The Bloodmark Saga, and I started this blog. So no mama will be alone and my mom's passions can be shared. I wouldn't have been ready for this three years ago, but as I have worked through some of my grief I have found the joy in helping others. I am also creating an app for the Mama Village (coming July 2016) that will do just that, share love and kindness and activities with mamas and children everywhere. So help your friend find ways to give back, when their ready.