I pull out a small piece of paper that I had forgotten was tucked in my back pocket. It has only three words: the worst part. Immediately I’m transported back to the small coffee shop where I heard the words and felt compelled to jot them down.
I was busy writing when I overheard two strangers talking about the ‘worst part’ of a certain scenario. The sounds of people trying to prepare for a dooms-day moment, though holding hopes that those outcomes wouldn’t materialize. Over and over again, I kept hearing the words, “the worst part”. The words pierced my heart so intentionally I wrote them down not fully knowing what would come of them.
Now I stand in my kitchen holding this tiny paper with three delicate words– the worst part.
And I think about the death of my mother. And I think about losing her. And I think about the final moments and the continuation of life without her and I wonder, what is the worst part?
What is the worst part of it all? The worst parts of grief and loss and death.
Was it watching a disease cripple her and steal the pieces of her that made her shine? Was it sitting beside her and feeling the fade of her breath and the cease of her heartbeat? Was it watching as a crowd slowly passed by her still body weeping with final goodbyes? Was it witnessing her lowered beneath the earth and covered with dirt? Was it the first day waking up in a world void of her? Was it living through all of the ‘firsts’ without her?
What is the worst part of losing her?
Is it the house that someone else now occupies– the one that used to be hers, built by her love and filled with her unforgettable influence? Is it staring at her name on a piece of stone? Is it noticing all of the places she should be but isn’t? Is it the empty seat during special events or the silence during times where she’d be cheering for me?
What is the worst part of losing a mother?
Is it the ‘never-again’s’ or the ‘I wish I would have’s’? Is it the forever absence that now clouds each day of the future? Is it the way it feels like you’ve lost a lifeline and also a best friend? Is it the way the world suddenly feels scarier without her in it?
What is the worst part of it all?
Is it waking up in each new day only to lose her again? Is it having only memories instead of a future? Or is it simply the reality of losing the person who created you?
I can’t choose which is worse. Each of these things has chiseled away at who I was and delicately repurposed who I am. Each experience of loss holds harsh and debilitating consequences of grief. All serious. All severe. All life-altering.
So, what is the worst part of grief? Maybe it’s that there isn’t only one defining moment or experience that is the most intolerable. Maybe it’s living with unbearable pain and heartbreak indefinitely.
The worst part is that there isn’t a worst part. It’s all of it. Forever.
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.