Posted by Debsie_K
Today marks one year since my mom’s soul left this world and entered another. A lot of people have been asking me how I feel so here are a few of my thoughts:
In a lot of ways, today feels no different than any other day. I think of my mom daily. In fact, I think about her several times a day, and as I told my husband not too long ago, I feel as though she is a constant background to my thoughts. She is always on my mind, whether I am thinking about something in specific or whether I am just missing her presence. I plan on writing a separate post on the things I learned about how to support someone through grief, and one thing that I will include, is that you never need to worry about bringing up someone’s loss for fear of “reminding them” and making them sad. When you lose someone special, they are always on your mind, whether people bring up the topic or not.
At the same time, today does feel like a special day to me. And that’s because it marks the day my life changed in a very big way. In the same way that my birthday and the birthdays of my friends and family will always be special days, February 4th will now forever be special to us, and will be a day that we will always set apart to collectively and intentionally remember mom. I tried to think about what my mom would want us to do today, and all I could really think was that she would want us to spend time together as a family, strengthening our relationships. This is one wish that she spoke of often during her last few years, and one that I plan to honour.
In my culture, as in many others, the first year is the official “grieving period”. It doesn’t mean that the grieving ends after a year, but just that the first year is a very special one. We hold a commemoration 40 days after the day of death, and then another one on the one year mark. There is even a special saying that you say to those grieving on the days of those commemorations. Translated to English it means “May you continue to live and remember”. I think that is a beautiful saying, and in general, I have found these cultural traditions to be a huge help throughout this first year when everything seems new and foreign and nothing else really makes sense. Sometimes, it’s nice to have some guidelines that take a little bit of pressure of decision making.
In this last year, I also struggled between finding the balance between grieving and going on with my life. Does grieving mean that you are not supposed to feel any joy? Or should I think that mom would want us to continue to be happy and go on with our lives as much as possible? I struggled with this question a few times over the course of this year: on my 30th birthday, at Christmas, and just recently, when I learned my husband and I were expecting a new baby(!). The answer hasn’t been fully answered in my mind, but I have learned that it is impossible to stay in a permanent state of grief. Even if you try, life passes by, other people get sick and pass on, and if you don’t move beyond yourself and your sadness, you will regret celebrating all the joys that life does bring our way. You will also regret honouring the life that is around you, because it too will one day end, and you will have been too busy stuck in your own little world. So – with that, I’ve strived to find a sense of balance between grieving my mother’s loss and trying to enjoy the life around me at the same time. It’s a tough balance I tell you.
Finally, one thing that has brought me peace this entire year has been the thought that a person’s memory really does not end with their earthly death. My mother has truly left us with so much. She has planted in me more than I could describe here, and it brings me so much comfort to know that that will never die.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and for being along on this journey with me.