The Hard-Won Lessons of Losing My Mom

In 2010, when my mother passed away, my world as I knew it was forever changed. It was Thanksgiving, family time, which made coming to terms with the news even harder.

Four years later I still reel from that fateful day and try to fit the pieces together. On most days I am good, but there are those that take me by storm and threaten to spit me back into the tombs of grief. Yesterday was great, but today, not so much.

So many lessons learned about myself in the last four years, so many decisions made about my present and future.

Grief is personal yes, but there are elements of this  journey we all share. As I open up to my family slowly about how I still struggle sometimes with the thought of my mother gone forever, I realize that they too are hurting. They too want her here during the holidays to tell her stories and make us all fall out laughing. And what about the toddlers in our midst who never had the chance to be graced with her presence or be the recipient of her stern teachings and upbringing? She was valued by us all and we still hold her in high esteem.

As I recall what my mother’s life meant to us, the tears slowly roll down my cheeks.

It is bittersweet and I miss her! I still maintain that I would give everything I have on this earth to have her back here with us again. They say that you only miss the water when the well runs dry and that certainly describes my current situation.

You see growing up into my teenage years, I spent an enormous amount of energy trying desperately not to embody my mother’s characteristics. I was rebellious and saw her as weak because in my opinion she was too soft and kind. She never uttered a bad word to anyone who wronged her. Yet, I had so much fight in me, I wanted her to use her words to hurt some of those people that hurt her. Her generosity, in the community we lived in, knew no bounds and she sacrificed…for me, for her family, and for her adopted kids in the neighborhood - the ones whose parents could not and would not take care of them. She fed them, gave them clothes, and took them to church. The third bedroom in our house was always a guest room for a kid who needed a place to stay. I never understood her quiet strength until it was too late. She stayed focused on her purpose and was indeed a God-fearing woman.

It is ironic now as I reflect on my mother now how warming are the thoughts of her character. I now strive to be like her — a gentle soul, a giver, a quiet storm. These were her strengths! She has become the biggest influence in my life, sadly postmortem, but wisdom comes with age and circumstance.

There is no denying that grief is painful, but on my journey it taught me a few things…

  1. Grief breaks you and bares your soul. This pain is indescribable like an open wound that won’t heal no matter what you salve it with, but you learn to be resilient.
  2. Grief molds you. Never mind what you think you know of yourself! Grief will surface some traits you never knew you had and turn your character around. Some of the traits  were negative and forced me to take a hard look at myself. I developed a lowered tolerance level for people’s actions and analyzed everything they said or did. I also found myself resentful and jealous around people and their families because I felt alone in my mother’s absence.
  3. Open communication becomes a necessary and powerful tool — discussing feelings and difficult emotions helps in the process.
  4. You shun God, but are inevitably being drawn in closer as the healing process ensues.
  5. You learn to appreciate the simple things in life — a smile from a stranger, a hug, the sun after a cloudy day, laughter.
  6. You gain perspective and so you treat people differently. You appreciate life as a gift!

My lessons learned may not be the same as anyone else’s, this is just my experience. I understand that some people may lose themselves forever, while others can pick up the pieces eventually and move on. Whatever your journey with your loved one is or has been, I hope it is as memorable and meaningful as mine.

As we celebrate mothers in this season, I celebrate Mom for giving me life, for protecting me always throughout the years, and for instilling good old values that set the foundation for the woman I am today.

Moms are indeed irreplaceable! << Click to Tweet

Mellany Paynter is an engineer, life enthusiast, adventur- seeker, author of Dancing At The Crossroad and founder of Her Billions. Her main focus is helping others improve their quality of life and encouraging women to find balance in every area. She credits her life’s success to deep spiritual connectedness. Her favorite things to do are writing, reading and spending time with her family and friends. Website | Instagram | Twitter


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