As the holidays approach she knows my heart is tender as we start to plan and prepare– a delicate perk of having friends that know you as intimately as family. I have tears in my eyes as I look down and say, “Grief is just so heavy, especially this time of year.”
Without skipping a beat, she hugs me and says, “It really is. But do you think you’re also carrying weight you don’t need to carry? Are you still carrying things that you don’t need? Is there anything you can let go of?”
And just like that I’m speechless and perplexed.
Is there anything I can let go of? Am I carrying weight that I no longer need?
My immediate thoughts are to explain that of course there is nothing I can let go of, I lost my mother and every piece of that heartbreak will be with me forever. The overpowering weight and never-ending ache, it’s all part of grief. It’s all part of loss, especially one of this magnitude. But there is something about her words that make me inquisitive of her ask.
Am I carrying weight that I don’t need?
The entire drive home I’m intrigued by her authentic questions. She knows she cannot take away my pain and my longing but she must also know that I should reexamine the things I’m left holding years after my mother’s passing. She must know something I don’t, and if not, she must be holding a stronger hope and resiliency for me than I’ve been able to hold for myself.
There is no doubt the intense and sometimes unbearable weight of grief cannot be ignored, but am I still holding pieces that should have been let go of? Pieces that no longer suit me and simply only serve to tire me from living a life my mother would be proud of and a life that honors her legacy. Am I holding on to the responsibility to continue traditions and holiday events that no longer make sense without her and the new composition of our family? Am I holding on to some weight that I don’t need instead of holding onto hope and love and faith?
Is there anything I can let go of?
Can I let go of the regret and the “what if’s” and instead free myself to engage with more purpose and create memories that my own children need and deserve? Can I let go of the anger for what will never be and the hurt of what never was and instead carry the pursuit of joy and reminiscence? Can I let go of the darkness and start allowing the light to shine through again?
Can I let go of the desire to change the past and start carrying her memory forward instead? Can I let go of the desire to make things just as she did, and instead find a way to make them mine too, to make them both of ours–hers from heaven and mine from earth? Can I let go of the pursuit of perfection to mask the pain, heartbreak, and ache of the hole created by her death?
Can I let go, knowing I’m not letting go of her or her memory, but rather the parts of losing her that no longer need to be carried into each new day and each new year? Can I set down the weight of her final breaths and instead pick up the weight of her influence? Afterall, it’s lighter and the thing she’d want me to carry more than anything else.
And the answer is simple but not easy. The answer is that I can. For her I could do anything.
And I bet you can too. I bet we can together.
So this holiday season my goal for myself and my wish for you is that we can all let go of the weight that is no longer helpful or necessary for us to be carrying. That we’ll walk forward a little less weighed down by grief and a little more lifted by light and love and hope.
And it won’t be simple. And it won’t be easy. But we can do it. For them, we can do anything.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.