I was only three years old when the last of my living grandparents passed away. Sadly, I have no memory of them. Over the course of my life, I have lost one sister, two brothers, a nephew, two friends, and many other more distant relatives. Losing a sibling is hard, sometimes confusing and weird. Of course, I mourned the loss of each very deeply. My sister Nancy was handicapped, and passed away at the age of 14. I was only eight at the time, but her memory, and example are very much a part of my life. There was my brother Jim, with his 'one of a kind' sense of humor, and unwavering generosity. My oldest brother Jack, his laughter and happy attitude always bring a smile to my face, and my precious nephew Marques, who lost a brave battle with cancer as a teenager. Each one touched my life in significant ways, and I miss them. However, it has been the loss of my Mother nine months ago that has shaken the very core of my life and soul.
My Mom and I were extraordinarily close. We sent texts to each other easily an average of 15 times a day. There was rarely a day to go by when I didn't see her. She supported everything my family and I did, and she never missed my children's school performances, birthday parties, talks in our church, or sports activities. Likewise, I always did my best to be there for her, whenever and wherever she needed. She was my best friend, and showed me unconditional love every day of my life.
The days since she passed continue to be filled with mixed emotions, random feelings, and depression. Crying until I'm certain there are no more tears left, and then exhausted from the intense emotion. Lonely, wishing I could hear her bubbly voice, or see that sparkle in her eye when my little boys walked into her room. Wishing like crazy my cell phone would chime, and see "Mom's Cell" as the sender. Some day's spending an hour torturing myself as I re-read our past text messages, and listening to her voice on her voice-mail box. One minute smiling, and even laughing at the memory of her, but next bursting into sobs seconds later. Not being able to walk into her bedroom for days at a time, and then when I finally do, being so overwhelmed with grief I break down again. And wondering daily when the cruel void left in my heart will ever go away.
I am religious person and have always had unshakable faith that we live after this life. Nevertheless, I find myself desperately longing for proof that she is all right, that she is still with me. My belief is yes, and I will continue to have faith that the warm hug I feel inside my heart from time to time, comes from her.
So, the question: how do you heal from the loss of a loved one? My thoughts, for whatever it's worth, are these:
You will never fully heal. The days will get harder before they get easier, and just when you think it's getting better; you will relapse for a little while. The ache will consume you at times, and you won't know what to do. Holidays and Birthdays will come, and the pain will pierce your heart those days, when you miss them just a bit more. However, with the help of time, love, and support from family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers, the days will get easier. The sting will subside, and it will stop being the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning, or the last thing to fill your mind when you drift off to sleep. Photographs will no longer bring you to tears, but fill you with loving memories. Days will regain some sense of normalcy, and despite the missing piece of your heart, life will go on.