Today is the forty-ninth anniversary of my mother’s death. I was twelve in 1972 when she moved on to The Next Thing. Grief has been my companion for nearly the whole of My Life.
First of all, I’d like to dispel a few myths and cliches.
Time doe NOT heal all. What happens is at some point — your mind, your body, your soul simply cannot stand to feel that much pain anymore. They begin to shut down the pathways so you can survive another day in the newly-created-personal hell. The hole in Your Life remains — you grow around it — but you always know exactly where the edges of it are.
There is no set timeline for resolution of loss. My old job gave us three days off if a close family member died — five days if you had to travel out of state for a funeral. That’s it — then it’s back to business as usual. Humans tell you not to ‘dwell’ on your loss. They expect you to be the very same person and able to function in the very same manner as you did prior to having your heart ripped out by the roots. You are not the crazy one if you can’t just pick up the pieces and carry on after a week or so. I know — because I’ve mourned the loss of pets for longer than that. We take as long as we take to be able to feel again without coming unglued. See above paragraph.
My mother is not in a better place. The best places she ever inhabited belong to the memories I have of her. Adored and needed by her youngest child — my mother gave and received Love by the megaton. No one knows for sure exactly what she’s up to these days — but where ever she is — it cannot compete with moments she held me when I was sick or sang with me in the car on shopping trips. I know this truth — because I am also a mother. And a grandmother. Heaven lives on earth in these shared moments.
All of these helpful hints at dealing with my pain have been spoken to me by Humans who call their mothers every other day. Or who still can gather at her table for holiday celebrations. Or who receive mushy birthday cards every year signed by their mother’s own hand.
Grief is a weight we carry with us every step of every day on our journey in this Life. All of us who know this understand that the hands who helped us bear the initial blow will leave us after a week or two and we will be left to manage the burden on our own. Forever.
After forty-nine years, the weight isn’t as cumbersome as it was in 1972. But it’s not that it’s gotten any lighter — I’ve just gotten stronger for having to carry it.