The world as I knew it stopped the day my mum died. We knew it was coming, she’d been given two years, but my heart imploded when I was informed in a hospital corridor that actually only 24-hours remained. I would like to say it was a nice goodbye; it wasn’t. I couldn’t find the right words to say, it wasn’t a fitting finale to our 24 years together. I didn’t want her to go – I was the selfish daughter who just wanted to keep her mum.
I stood up and spoke at her funeral. That was my opportunity to honour her publicly, to say what I really should have said during those final moments. To be the daughter she deserved.
The loss of someone close to you is not something you get over. It’s just something that you learn to live with through the passing of time.
When the loss was still really raw, there were four occasions every year that were particularly hard to bear: Christmas, her birthday, the anniversary of the day she died and… Mother’s Day. For me, Mother’s Day was the hardest of them all. It’s the one day where it seems everyone apart from you has a mum. Marketing for the event is everywhere, ‘treat your mum’ or ‘show mum how special she is’. Turn on the TV, listen to the radio, check your inbox – inescapable reminders, massive metaphorical flashing sirens screeching – your mum is gone, your mum is gone.
Over a decade on, Mother’s Day for me now is predominantly about my own children. As you might expect this helps tremendously. But regardless of the fact I’m a mum myself now, I have worked to shift my thought process surrounding Mother’s Day from one of lacking to one of love and thanks. You see, I realised I will always have a mother. Yes, she isn’t here physically, but that doesn’t mean I am motherless.
I carry so much of my mother with me. Her spirit, values and love live on within me and through me. She is alive still because I keep her alive within my heart. I give thanks to her daily (but especially on Mother’s Day) for the foundations she provided me with during our time together, which have enabled me to live the life I get to live. I have grown and flourished because that is what she set me up to do.
I have lost, but I have also gained. I cannot control the past, it is gone – but I can choose how I live right now. I am grateful for the strength to have endured tragedy and come out the other side. I am blessed to understand the importance of loving, cherishing and showing gratitude to those special people in my life whilst I still can.
Please don’t misunderstand me, if I could have her back I would in a nanosecond. I wouldn’t need to write about life after loss. I would rename my site Living.Perfectly.Happy. But that’s impossible and so I do the only thing I can, the thing she would want me to do the most…
Yes, she would want me to remember her (and I do daily with bittersweet affection) but she would not want what has transpired to negatively affect the rest of my life. Ultimately the only thing she would ask of me is to be happy. Isn’t that really the main wish any mother has for her child? Being happy and living the best version of my life that I possibly can is something I can still do for her. I can still make her proud.
I am not asking you to think positively when your pain is still so tremendously real. You owe it to yourself to grieve. Whether you lost your Mum five days or fifty years ago, always allow yourself three things: time, understanding and a damn good cry. But do know that there is life after loss.
My love is still as strong as ever for my beautiful Mum, as I’m sure yours is for all of your wonderful Mum’s too, be they with you in person or in spirit.
But to you who are struggling, I send love, strength and happier times this Mother’s Day.
Everyday is a gift, time to live it to the full! Read: Breaking the age barrier: Why you shouldn’t let your age hold you back
Always ask for help if you’re struggling coping with grief and your daily life after loss. If you need this from someone other than your family and friends, you can call Cruse Bereavement Care on freephone helpline (UK) 0808 808 1677 or visit www.cruse.org.uk.
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