Her love is noticeable from the very first words of her email. She writes to me with few words but a bold request: “Help her heal. Please, help her.” This is what happens when you love someone so fiercely you can’t bear witnessing their pain and their heartbreak. She is writing out of both desperation and hope.
This woman is a stranger to me but her loss and grief are not– the sting of her torment and disbelief are familiar companions now that my mother is gone. This woman lost a sister and best friend while her niece simultaneously lost a mother and best friend. I have no idea where she writes from but I imagine her there in front of her keyboard with tears and quick taps, thinking maybe the quicker she types the quicker the antidote for the hell they’re experiencing.
In times like this I desperately wish I was more than what I am. In times like this I wish I could be what these beautiful souls need. I wish I was more than a woman who lost her mother and became companions with heartbreak and mourning. I wish I was a healer more than just a woman with a vicious wound called grief.
The harshest truth in living life with significant loss is that there is no quick fix. There is no miracle cure or simple solution. Time has been the only thing to dull the sting and the catastrophic heartbreak that occurred when I said my final goodbye to my mother. Even to this day I haven’t found complete healing, but rather learned that it’s a constant pursuit that I’ll endure forever. I’ve learned healing is an individual assignment.
I don’t know how to cure the wounds of grief. I wish I did. But cure and heal are actually two different things. Heal doesn’t always signify a cure, but rather a road to recovery– a way to ‘mend’, ‘get better’ and feel “healthy again.”
So, if you want to heal you should know…
First, breathe and then make sure you have someone beside you to keep reminding you of that simple action. You will need to be reminded, trust me.
Be patient with yourself and your acceptance and acknowledgement of this new reality. It’s a hard truth that will greet you each day.
Don’t run from the pain. Don’t cover yourself with busyness. Don’t try to rush something that is as precise as the minute and second hands on the clock. It cannot be changed. It cannot be avoided or ignored. It will always find you.
Know that while you lost her today it won’t be the last time you lose her. You’ll wake up each day only to lose her again. You’ll lose her in all the big and small moments to come. You’ll lose her again and again, forever. I didn’t know you could lose someone more than once until losing my mother and now I try to warn others so this shock doesn’t derail their healing.
Understand that this marks your very own “before and after”. Things will be different now. You’ll be different. Life has crumbled and been deconstructed. The world will feel foreign and you’ll look at things in a way you’ve never seen before. This will be both a blessing and a curse.
You’ll feel lonely in crowded rooms and you’ll feel like a piece of you is missing. You’ll constantly feel like you’re on a search for something unreachable. You’ll lose more than her because grief isn’t something everyone in your life will be worthy of witnessing. You’ll gain new people too, ones that will know the hurt in your heart before you say a word because they hold it too.
Let this loss teach you something, even if it’s something as simple as gratitude or appreciation. I will never say there was a purpose or greater meaning to my mother’s death but I’ll always say I learned something from it.
While all of these things are harsh they are true. But also, one day you’ll wake up and breathe easier and step forward with a lighter weight on your shoulders. You’ll stop searching for her because you’ll realize she never left entirely, she’s always there, like the air that surrounds you each day but you can’t see. You’ll begin feeling her presence in ways you didn’t know were possible. You’ll begin seeing her in the strangers that pass and you’ll witness her love through the actions of those around you. You’ll begin to believe in the power of a mother’s love in ways only death can teach you. You’ll one day wake up and fully understand the way a mom can love you and cheer for you from eternity.
Healing isn’t an accomplishment or achievement, it’s a pursuit.
I hope you heal in a way that suits you. I hope you heal in a way that honors the legacy you’ve been gifted. And more than anything, I hope you heal in a way that allows you to never forget the love.
A thirty-something 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.