It’s been a little over a year since my mom passed away unexpectedly.
Recently, a young woman reached out to me and asked, ‘Does it get easier?’ I told her, Yes, it does get easier. Or maybe you just get stronger.
She had come across one of my blog posts as she grieved the unexpected loss of her mom. She was at her lowest point in grief, desperate for someone to say that the hardest days would soon be behind her. I know that point all too well.
Below are 12 things that actually helped as I coped with the loss of my mom.
Find a connection in nature
Ideally, it will be something that you come across only ever so often. I see my mother in the changing colors of the leaves in fall.
Keep a palm sized item of theirs
I have my mom’s Estée Lauder Youth Dew Bath Oil that she used once in a blue moon. Scent is a strong trigger of memory. I still hold the little bath oil bottle during my toughest breakdowns and it brings me so much comfort.
Watch for traits of your loved one in others
It could be personality traits or physical traits. Weird example — my mom had a smallpox vaccine scar on her upper left arm (not uncommon for her age). I saw another woman with that scar and just about lost it. It was such a small detail on my mom’s arm. I’m shocked I remember it so vividly!
Separate yourself from tangible memories
I know, I said to keep a palm sized item…but I challenge you to keep it to just one item. I found it cathartic to go through my mother’s closet and donate her old clothes. Inanimate objects don’t keep the person’s memory alive. Those items provide a false sense of security, in my opinion.
Scan all your photos
So you can access them online at any time. It’s been over a year and I still can’t click through my mom’s Flickr album without crying.
Share the funny stories
Grief doesn’t have to be so serious. Just the other day, I told a complete stranger that my mom kept her nearly-broken toaster for over 30 years because it was a wedding present, and she was afraid that throwing away the toaster would jinx her marriage. The funny thing is that my mother wasn’t superstitious, just frugal.
Talk to your loved one
Out loud. I talk to my mom while I’m in the car, almost as if I’m praying to her. Then I guess what she would say back if she were in the car with me. Somehow she still always gives the best advice.
See the signs
Of course I would see a hummingbird for the first time in years as I write this blog post. I promise, when you look out for signs of your loved one, you start seeing them everywhere.
Do something in honor of them
It could be as simple as having a glass of Merlot in their memory. As you sip the glass, imagine them right there next to you.
Find formal and informal grief groups
Joining a church-led grief group was one of the first things that actually helped me move forward in grief. I wasn’t attending church regularly at the time, and being amongst Christians that reminded me of my mom was incomparable. Talking to others who lost a loved one helped tremendously, too. We’re the club that no one wants to be in, but everyone will eventually join — the club of people who have lost someone very close to them.
Listen to their favorite songs
My mom went through a Macy Gray and Norah Jones phase. She loved to blast their albums on Saturday mornings while cleaning the house. She also got a kick out of watching me roll my eyes as she danced and sang into the broom handle. Music is almost as powerful as scents when it comes to memory triggers.
Live life the way they would have wanted you to live
On the one year anniversary of my mom’s passing, my husband and I went to church for the first time in a long time. We now attend every Sunday and are exploring our faith together, just as my mom always encouraged us to do.
The ultimate goal for anyone grieving is to turn their misfortune into something that helps others. That’s a major stage of grief as you adjust to your loss.
After losing my mom, I didn’t plan on writing about my grief. I wrote a couple of blog posts about her because I had this otherworldly writers block that prevented me from writing anything else until I wrote about my mom.
But those posts seemed to help others, so much so that they continue to be my most searched blog posts to date. Something’s telling me I need to continue to share my story.
About once a week, I receive a heartbreaking private message from someone grieving. If you are one of those people, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m no expert, but we can be informal grief group buddies.
Other posts that may be helpful
Thanks for reading,