It’s been a year since my mom passed away. I can’t even believe it went so quickly. Losing your mom on another continent during a pandemic is insanity. Watching your mother’s funeral over WhatsApp in the middle of the night, because borders are closed. Trying to find empty corners to grieve and cry in a full house with your husband and 3 kids at home. Dealing with issues with the Will and the house she left behind from far away. Maybe it was good that we were all home, though. Maybe it kept me from sinking lower.
Grief has been an interesting beast. It is often riddled with confusing emotions. My mom and I had a tumultuous past. One filled with cross continental drama. Grief was not straightforward for me. It came with anger, resentment, regret, pity, disbelief, guilt, and sadness all at the same time in some moments. I didn’t announce to the world that my mom had passed. Only my closest friends and family knew. I didn’t post it online. I didn’t think I could handle the condolences. I didn’t want others dictating how I should feel. Sending me words of sympathy and telling me how wonderful my mom was, when I wasn’t feeling it then. Not to the level I THOUGHT I should. That’s where the guilt came in. I needed to be alone in this, I thought. Figure this thing out. Luckily, I had a couple people that knew I shouldn’t be left alone in this. I had help. I got coaching. I got facilitated in processing my thoughts, I got virtual support from my family and people I work with. My virtual village. My husband held me through it. My kids gave me hugs. I also cried alone in my closet a lot.
And I started to see some light. I started to have more compassion for my mom. I started to have more compassion for me. I started to recognize my mom’s struggles, some of which I have. I am lucky, though, that I have the tools to push me through. I have a husband and kids that make it harder to give up. I have a coach. I have friends who are on the same journey of trying to improve, questioning their thoughts and living honest lives. I use the internet to my advantage and seek inspiration and motivation through it. (Not that it isn’t sometimes my downfall with Netflix and social media…) I’ve been able to see more clearly that I’m not better than my mom. Maybe I’ve been dealt a better hand. Maybe I’ve been lucky to stumble on the path I’m on. The path that helps me deal with my past and try to move on. The path that keeps pushing me to try harder, do better, AND be gentle on myself. Maybe my path isn’t even better. Just different.
Your relationship doesn’t end when someone leaves this earth. Ironically, it can get better… I have regrets about not getting to some revelations sooner, but nothing can be forced. It is what it is, and maybe it’s exactly the way it should be. My mom will always be a part of me. The great, the OK, and the ugly. Despite a roller coaster past, we never gave up. We tried to be a mother and a daughter with all the baggage that came with. It was often messy and painful, but we never walked away, we never called it quits. That, I can carry with me. When things get tough in life, if or when I hit turbulent waters with my family, I will not walk away. I will keep fighting. There were a lot of things I wish my mom did differently, but one thing was clear, she loved me and unconditionally. We all have different ways of showing love. Sometimes we want to receive it differently than it is given, but it still is love regardless.
When I’m giving love to my kids and my husband and my siblings and my dad and my step mom and my whole family that they may want presented differently, it’s still love. It’s messy, painful at times, but it’s a bond hopefully strong enough to help you stay in the fight. To not give up.
I miss you, Mama. I won’t pretend things would be different or better if you were still around. I don’t know that. Maybe they would be. Maybe not. But I’m glad that I have the tools and support to get to a place where I can honor you and be thankful for you and miss you.
To anyone out there, you are not alone if grief is confusing for you. Be gentle with yourself. You can’t force yourself to feel something you don’t. But with time and some work, I hope you can get to a place of peace and love for that person. A place of gratitude for the lessons that person has taught you and the gifts that person has given you.
Joanna Greaney, Great Parenting Simplified Coach
P.S. Please leave a comment below and tell me about your grief. Sharing and reading other people’s stories is how we heal together. If you ever need any support, you can book a free consult with one of our coaches, or email us at email@example.com