And just like that, Mother’s Day is upon us.
Truth be told, the past several Mother’s Days have been emotionally challenging. I know this first one without June will be tough, but seeing her sit inside on a beautiful, sunny Sunday year after year, a prisoner to her own home, was almost worse.
I feel like this is the first time in a long time I actually get to celebrate my mom on this holiday as she is finally free from this devastating disease.
Shortly after June died, a friend reminded me that we, too, are free. Selfishly, but honestly, I agree. We are. Dementia is very much so a group effort and all are involved. They say that the ones that hurt the most are the loved ones looking in.
And it’s true – the heartbreak of dementia knows no bounds for family and friends.
With Mother’s Day just days away, in a sad, beautiful way, I look forward to honoring June. My heart is so heavy. Heavier than I had imagined it would be – but knowing she is at peace – in some way, shape or form, makes it feel lighter.
In the short time since June has been gone, here is what I have gathered about losing my mom.
June was loved.
I know this so because I saw it, heard it, read it, and felt it. It is this kind of love that makes death uniquely beautiful. Just as June did in life, she brought so many humans together even in death. I was floored by the friends and family I saw the day we celebrated her and am beyond grateful to all who came from near and far…thank you. I know June was happy to see you too.
I get to grieve her….again.
Because you know, with dementia, you lose your loved one twice. I knew, of course, I was going to grieve June’s death, but what I wasn’t prepared for was to grieve the woman she was before she became sick all over again. I truly thought since I did that once already, I was in the clear. That is so not the case.
I talk to my mom every single day.
After all these years of June being sick, I finally feel like I can speak with her again. It’s as if her passing has allowed us to connect again in a way we couldn’t when she was here. It was the closure I needed to move forward and have this next level relationship with her. I have seen her in my dreams, I feel signs from her. Plus, if you know anything about my adoration for cemeteries, it will come as no surprise that I talk to her urn every single day. It’s absolutely beautiful, just as she was.
Somedays I find it hard to believe she is physically gone. It’s a very new feeling, but I now know what heartbreak feels like. It’s what makes me cry like a little girl who misses her mommy, but I’m just a 36-year-old woman who misses my mother.
To grieve is to be loved.
The love my mom gave to me and the love I gave to my mom is why this grief is so grand. I realize this more now than ever before. I also realize grief is just part of the human experience – indeed the most difficult part of it.
It’s ok to not know what to do, say, or how to act during a time of loss.
You guys, I went to work the morning after my mom died. I thought I was supposed to just keep going on normally. I was able to last a few hours, barely. At one point I stepped in back and the millisecond my co-worker asked how I was, tears squirted out of my eyes in all directions and the ugly cry set it. I promptly left and went straight to my best friend’s house where (in true June fashion) we sat on her front porch and got our hygge on.
Although we lost our mom, our family feels whole again.
June would be so freaking proud of her clan. Sure we had a good blow out fight, but it’d be unlike us not to. We’re human. There’s no doubt I would not have gotten through this all without my siblings and father. They all showed so much strength and everyone helped when and where they could, in massive ways.
That’s the thing about June, she gave us all the gift that keeps on giving…each other. Nothing like a death to bring the whole gang closer together.
There is no controlling the tears and shaky voice.
They have the ability to take over in an instant – like a punch in the gut. There is no telling when or where they may strike, but my best advice would be to just let it happen. As my dear friend Devon once said, tears are truth.
Life still goes on.
It’s hard to believe that life goes on after such a massive loss, but it does. Even while she was sick I had to adjust to this idea. Life doesn’t stop when loss strikes, it’s more or less about how you deal with it as it keeps going. Deep breaths and knowing who to call upon in the time of need help immensely.
Humans are incredible.
The cards are still trickling in, the hugs are endless. The texts just asking, “how are you?” give me space and opportunity to share how I’m feeling. The outreach has been heartwarming beyond comprehension. Humans have an incredible capacity for compassion that truly helps the heartbroken move forward. It has also been an enormous lesson in knowing how to help others during a time of grief. Life is such an interesting thing, isn’t it?
I’m going to be ok.
Because death is a part of life and life is so freaking beautiful.
I would like to wish all the moms out there a beautiful Mother’s Day and send love to those who have lost theirs.