Grieving A Beautiful Soul.

I'll warn you now. This is long. If you can make it through though, I find you may agree with some of the end of this blog since you are reading this for a reason. I first would like to describe someone.

I can't accurately describe my mother without doing a disservice to those who didn't know her. You see post-cards of beautiful mountains and ocean views, beaches, and any other landscape that takes your breath away in person. You see the picture, and in the back of your mind, can't help but think "that just does NOT do it justice..." This is how I feel about describing my mother. But I'm going to try. Because I think it's a shame not to share her memory with the world.

To start, I guess I can tell you that when she walked into the room, you felt lighter. She had a contagious presence of positive energy that was a refreshing change of pace. Bad or good day, you couldn't help but smile by her energy. This brings me to her smile... again, contagious. There are some people that have the quality of a contagious smile and some that don't. I was blessed to have been able to see it as often as I did growing up. Actually, blessed feels like an understatement. Honored.

She had emerald green eyes, pending what she was wearing I suppose. At times, emerald green, while others... more like peridot. If you are unfamiliar with these greens, look them up. They're beautiful gems. I feel describing her eyes as gems is accurate due to the sparkle. So full of life and immaculate spirit that most people just come to appreciate in another person.

Her smile could brighten my day. We talked every single day after I moved out to go to college, up until the day she died. I was telling her a funny story on the way to class the last time we ever spoke. I could hear her smile through the phone and I can easily say I have no regrets in our relationship. We had ups and downs for sure... I was a bratty, entitled teenager that I'm sure annoyed her. But we got past that. The last thing we said to each other was something we said every time we ended any conversation, "love you... love you, too."

Most people take that word for granted. I don't use it often anymore, even jokingly. "Ohhhh I love you man" while highly intoxicated has definitely slipped from my mouth. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. I can say that we have the only society/language (that I know of, but I've conducted only a small amount of research) that has only one word for "love," yet it has so many meanings and levels of intimacy. Parent, sibling, best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, pet, song, smell, landscape, moment in time. All different types of love. Okay, back to mom.

Sometimes she would laugh so hard she cried. That was the silent, shaking laugh where no sound would come out but you couldn't help to giggle AT her for shaking and crying while turning red in the face. Other times when she did laugh out loud, again, it was contagious. At the very least, to smile. My favorite though... my absolute favorite... was when she laughed the kind of laugh that was between out loud and the hard enough to shake laugh while trying to continue speaking. This was usually a terrible (or awesome) telling of a joke. She couldn't get through a lot of them without laughing. Aren't those the best jokes? The extraordinarily terrible jokes that aren't all that funny, but have the best delivery because the person telling it can't even get through it.

I usually don't know how to describe smells... and you may begin reading this, wondering where I'm going with it because to describe HOW a person smells is probably weird. Thing is... the olfactory system is the most distinct way to trigger memory. Something to do with chemicals in your brain. Won't go into details there, mainly because I can't remember specifics.

Anyway, think about the last time you hugged your mom. And I assume if you are reading this, being in a group that, by definition, means your mother has died, I want you to really think about it. Can you smell it? Can you remember the smell? Maybe your last interaction wasn't the best. So scratch that, go to a good memory of your mother giving you a hug. There is a smell associated with the safety of a mother's hug. That's the smell I'm talking about. Safety, security, comfort, and reassurance that everything is going to be okay... by one simple action. Maybe you did not have that kind of relationship with your mother that you physically hugged... but I did. And for that, I am thankful and humbly appreciative. After she died, I slept in her bed while at home planning services and beginning to clean out the house. I didn't want to let go of that smell.

I'll leave it at that for now. But I wanted to share the most beautiful woman I know with the world, if they chose to read. I can't bring her back but I need to be able to share the memory to feel that I'm not losing her all over again simply by not talking about her. I don't know who else was trained not to talk about what happened, but I was. People don't know how to handle you talking about death because people don't know how to handle death. No one knows what to say so they panic and say something stupid (always well intended... but almost always stupid). Our society is one of "I'm here for you, whatever you need... please don't cry... you have to be strong... they would want you to move forward... time heals all... I understand what you're going through... it's God's will... they're in a better place..."

Give any other cliche you choose. None of that helps. Grieving is a process that no one understands and is completely individualized. It's a painful, grueling process that feels good to escape from when you can. Whether this by sleep, drugs, alcohol, sex, dissociating, and any other distraction you can think of. I can tell you sometimes what I needed was just someone to sit with and be around me while I cried. Sometimes you don't have to talk, sometimes I just need someone to listen.

To address the cliches, time doesn't heal all wounds. That's like saying setting up shop next to a flat tire will fix the flat tire. You have to put in effort and work if you want a wound to heal that is as deep as losing someone so important. Even then, time feels infinite as well as utterly limited (sometimes in the same instant).

"Whatever you need, I'm here for you." I need help years down the road when I feel like everyone else forgot but I'm still affected every single day of my life. Don't tell me I should be over it.

"Don't cry, be strong." I will cry when I need to because there is NOTHING wrong with me for expressing my deepest sadness for losing the most important person in my life. If you can not handle my crying, you are not meant to be involved in that part of my life. And I AM strong. I have to be strong because I wasn't given a choice. And yes, she would want me to move forward but she would also want me not to avoid addressing how I feel when I need it most.

"I understand." Actually, no. You do NOT understand what I'm going through just as I do not and can not understand what YOU are going through. You can empathize, but you can not understand.

And do not preach to me about God. You're not God and you don't know his will if he exists to you, me, or anyone else. That's a conversation I get to have with God if I so choose. And you don't know what "better place" my mother is in. She was not in pain, she was happy til the moment she fainted and her heart stopped. I don't know where she went but again, that's a struggle for me and not for you to tell me.

I've heard all of these enough in anger that I didn't address the fact that the people saying these things were just scared and wanted to help... but didn't know how. Still don't know how. I've finally gotten to the point that I am able to express what I do need to those that I know care and are trying. If you're to the point that you know what you need and can't do it on your own, there's nothing wrong with asking for help. I give people credit for trying and truthfully feeling helpless for not knowing how to help. I am really trying to help them to help me. It's not always easy... in fact, it's never been easy.

At this point, I feel like I'm just going on a rant so I will stop. Either way, I feel better to get some of this off my chest. Next month will be six years since she died, maybe that's why I have so much to say. I need to write more. I forget how helpful this is.
HubertTheLion HubertTheLion
2 Responses Jan 6, 2013

I'm so glad you said something about the grieving process. I feel like people look at me like I should be moving on when they have no clue what it's like to loose a mother

It sucks that we're made to feel guilty for not "getting over it" and then obligated to make others' feel better about something that WE are going through. I just recently started writing about what's going on with me but it's amazing how validating it is to know someone else feels the same. Thank you.

I feel totally alone. My dad and brother can't even be there for me. My brother doesn't know how to grieve and every time I start crying on the phone to my dad he tells me to stop bc it upsets him. My mother was the only one ever there for me emotionally and now she's gone. What the hell do I do with all this baggage now??? Guess I'm just left dragging it around myself

Not sure if you have resources for therapy or counseling but I've found it's better to pay someone to listen that can offer perspective rather than feeling you're a burden just by going through the natural grieving process. There's nothing wrong with trying to work through what you're feeling... there are just some people that can't handle it and aren't where you are yet. They mean well... they just can't do it. I would try to find other support systems because it sounds like your expectations for your family are that they will be able to change and be there for you, so you end up constantly disappointed. I lost a lot of friends after my mom died and realized that there are just some family members I can't talk to. Hang in there, it's not an easy road to go down but finding what you need in others doesn't fix anything by any means, but rather becomes such a relief for when you need that extra help.

Gosh you just took the feelings right out of my head. Thank you, I need that!

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Sorry your mom has passed on. Lovely story you wrote.