My mom and I were extremely close and talked about everything. But we never discussed how I was going to live my life without her. This became abundantly clear in the weeks and months that followed her death; confident and sure-footed me was completely lost.

 

I couldn’t have imagined all those years ago that I would find joy without her, but I have. She wouldn’t have wanted her death to sap the pleasure from my days and thankfully, it hasn’t.

 

The mourning period following my mother’s death was incredibly painful. But I’m grateful that I allowed myself to fully grieve my loss and that eventually, I learned to accept it. And over the years I have taken to remembering and honoring my mother with the very special gifts she gave me in the values and beliefs that I too embody.

 

But how did I learn to find joy without her? It’s quite simple; I followed her example.

 

Having survived the early death of her father and widowed twice by the age of forty-six, my mother knew the importance of living each day fully. She never felt sorry for herself and focused more on the positives in her life. She took advantage of every opportunity to enjoy the companionship of her children, her family, and her friends. She found someone to join her at events and on trips and excursions she wanted to take. And most importantly, she lived her life with no regrets.

 

I marked the tenth anniversary of her death in January of this year. I woke up, acutely aware of her absence. I knew my mother would be annoyed if I was feeling sad, so in the morning, I blasted an upbeat CD and baked my favorite cookie recipe. The house filled with heavenly scents and I danced along with the music. It was exactly the way she would have liked me to remember her.

 

As I write this post, I’m getting ready for an important spring holiday, a special time while growing up. I’ll use some of my mother’s china when setting the table and I’ll incorporate a few of her recipes with my own. Each year, I remember the last time I celebrated this holiday with mom at my home. It’s bittersweet, but I love to remember that day. In the ensuing years, I’ve had equally happy days, with my own family and friends. More importantly, I will make sure that I’m fully engaged, not only for this holiday, but for every day. That’s how I find my joy.

 

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.

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Tags: Mother's Day, anniversary of death, comfort & joy, coping with loss & grief, holidays, honoring & remembering, mother, ritual & tradition

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Comment by Dwanda Farmer on May 22, 2011 at 11:36pm
I need help.  My mom died January 9th quite unexpectedly at the age of 67.  I'm 44 years old and I live alone and I feel all alone in the world.  I am a strong and independent woman but I have NO IDEA how to live my life without my mom.  I can't stop the crying and I just feel like I too am dying a little bit more each day.
Comment by Deborah Grate Bennett on May 22, 2011 at 11:05pm

I feel this is a good site for coping with a loss. As I read some of the blogs, I'm reminded of how bless we all are and how bless I was for years to have both of my parents for 78 years for my mom, who passed on May 9, 2011 and 91 years for my dad, who is still living. I am 38 years old and have friends who lost their moms when they were in their 20s and my husband lost his father when he was in his early 20s. 

 

One thing my mom told us since we were old enough to understand is ... "I'm just an appointed earthly mom who was chosen by God to rear you all in the way you should go. (She had 13 children, 4 preceded her in death). But remember who your real parent is. He is God. When I leave this earth, it is then that you must look to your true parent for support and guidance. My job is done and my work is over."

 

I don't know how many of you read the Bible or believe in God, but 2 weeks ago when my mother took her last breath, I find that I am as strong now as I was when I watched her slip away. The last gasp said, "I am free." When I find myself feeling depressed and wanting to just throw things at the world, it seems she taps me on the shoulder and say, "You know better than that. That's not how I raised you." It helps to think about what your loved one would say when you start to feel like your world is crushed.

 

By posting my feelings and strength, I feel I can tackle another day and enjoy the memories and courage that my mother left behind. She faced her burdens like a real warrior and sheltered her woes. 

Comment by Deborah Grate Bennett on May 22, 2011 at 10:30pm

My mother passed away on May 9, 2011. She battled with end stage renal failure for years. The one thing I can remember most about her, although it has not been that long, is her constant connection to God and how He regularly showed up in her life when the doctors said she would not live a few months. God allowed her to be a witness of His power, His grace, and His mercy. Even though she left that courage behind, I often find myself in a daze with her as the picture before my eyes. My next to the oldest sister and the middle brother along with their spouses and my husband and myself were with her during her final moments. At the very end, about an hour before she passed, I walked out of the hospital room because I couldn't take seeing her leave. I accept God's will, but there is a void in my life (as most people who have lost their mother would say). I find people around me, going on with their every day routine, and I'll say something about momma. They just look at me, like they are speechless but I don't expect them to say anything.

 

I am a teacher and my students help with the healing process. They didn't expect me to come back to work a day after burying my mother, but it was the best step. The children ask me to share some of the stories my mother left behind (because I shared some before she left) and we laughed about them. It was healing for my soul. I find it's easier to remember the times with others than to sit alone and rekindle the moments. 

 

When you lose a parent, it seems to be an unexplainable feeling happening inside of you. It's as though you've lost a brother/sister, friend, companion, confidant, and close relative all at once. But I thank God He left us with our father, who is now 91 years old and He left us with parents who set moral patterns before us so we may have something to follow. 

 

They were married for 62 years, and had 13 children, and I am the baby. She called me "baby girl." My middle sister now addresses me as "baby girl" to keep that part going. As time passes and God allows us to grow, hopefully, the pain will subdue and the memories will carry on the life Eliza W. Grate left behind.

Comment by kelley likes on May 19, 2011 at 12:35am
Thank you so much for these words of wisdom. My Mom went very fast. We had about 3 months with her. It's been 9 years and for some reason, this year, has been very hard. I gave palliative care from January to April and through these months of the year, I always feel down. When summer hits and the sun comes out, it goes away. It isn't until her birthday in November and Christmas that I miss her again because I always think, "what to get Mom."  These words that you have printed have made me feel more cheery. Thanks again.
Comment by suezq108 on May 18, 2011 at 11:05am

I lost my Mom in August. She battled cancer for 5 years and worked almost to the end at a job she loved. My father passed away 2 years ago also in August. I feel an ache and yearning for my Mom that is so hard to explain. Anyone who has lost a Mother knows this feeling. Some days are easier than others. I held my Darling Mother in my arms as she passed away and would not trade that time for anything in the world. If only I could still have the feeling of holding her, the closeness, the love I feel and wish I could turn back time. Guilt is ever present for reasons I do not understand. I wish I would have known more. I was in shock and denial when the doctors told me there was nothing they could do to save my Beautiful Mom. I had to make choices that nobody should have to make. And....have my own sibling judge me, even though they would not come to be with Mom as she passed on. Sad, but I am grateful that I was the one to be with her. I miss my Mom everyday and there are things that remind me of her generosity and kindness in this world. She lives on in the fond memories many carry in their hearts of her and in remembering her sassy ways. Take one day at a time and even though it seems like your world is ending, you will make it, and eventually the tears will still come but, they will come less often. One day you will wake up and not feel quite as bad, the agony does ease up a little, the yearning slowly gets a little better. I breathe deep and try to smile knowing that there is an Angel watching over me and mine.

Comment by leslie dykeman on May 15, 2011 at 10:40pm

I lost my mother not even a year ago..June 12th will be a year. I lost her to lung cancer. She passed away 2 days before her 54rd birthday. I am only 35 and lost the women who raised me and was always there for me. It has been very hard this passed year. She fought for over 2 years with cancer and was a very active women. Very well known in our community and very well respected. She used to tell me that when she dies I will have to "put on my big girl panties" and move on. On the outside I do fine but on the inside it hurts so much. I dont know how to move on. I feel alot of anger inside. Its just not fair, I still need her in my life. I dont know if she knew how much I loved her and even though we didnt always see eye to eye on things I still needed her. I think back wishing that we would of been closer when I was a teenager and in my twenties. We were close but sometimes she didnt agree with me on things I did in my life, but she was always there for me. I miss her so much. There is such an empty feeling inside me and I wish it didnt hurt anymore. She died so suddenly not like most cancer patients. My 15 year old son was staying the night and she was talking about going to the movies with him if she was feeling up to it and then she gets up in the middle of the night, she feels like she is choking and my dad gets up to take to her the hospital and shes on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood. Later we find out she had a ruptured artery in her neck. Lungs filled up with blood, doctors said she went quickly and felt no pain, but how do I get those images out of my head. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever gone threw. People say time heals, Im still waiting.

Comment by Deana on May 15, 2011 at 10:08am

I lost my dear mother and dear grandmother within one month, less than 2 years ago.  One week before that happened, I was one of the millions of workers laid off in this horrible economy.  My daughter and I were going to take my mother to the grocery store, had just talked to her and found her slumped over, gone.  I tried to give her CPR but could not bring her back. There is nothing like the feeling of picking up your deceased mother and trying to bring her back, while your daughter is having a panic attack and your invalid grandmother is screaming in the next room.  And all the while your alcoholic brother is outside drinking.  You never ever forget the coldness of her, it is a piercing, lingering cold that you never forget the feel of. My brother died 18 months before my mother did.  After he died, she had no will to live. Most days it takes all I can muster to just get out of bed. Maybe someday I will feel better but it is doubtful.

 

Comment by Milka Stanojevich on May 12, 2011 at 10:18am
Brandon, Please accept my deepest sympathies. This is a very painful time, and you are probably in a state of shock too, but the pain will get a bit worse in the next month, as the reality really sinks in, and then, slowly, things will get better. Remember the wonderful things about your mom, and send her love and gratitude, and you will feel less pain. We are here for you, too, and as Robbie said, many of us have been on this path as well. Milka
Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 12, 2011 at 7:40am

Dear Brandon,

My deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved mom. I hope you will find some comfort in the support you will get on this site. Many others have walked the same path. In the meantime, just focus on putting one foot in front of the other to move through your days. It will take time but it will get better.

Robbie

 

Comment by Brandon on May 11, 2011 at 9:02pm
I lost my mother 3 days ago on mothers day. She meant everything to me I miss her so much. I don't know how I'm ever going to get over her. I was very close to her and I'm only 18 and I lived with her. I would wake up everyday and she would be there. She would be there when I went to bed every night. It's so hard when i look and she's not there. I just still can't believe it and I don't know if it's ever gonna get better. I don't know what I'm gonna do

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