When my mom passed away last October I knew life would never be the same. She battled with Multiple Sclerosis for nearly 20 years and I had been there, devoted to helping her through, every step of the way.
We were a team my mom and I. A completely incomplete family unit and much of my self-identity was wrapped up in being a caregiver first, daughter/friend/girlfriend etc. second. So when she passed away that Fall morning, a part of me, of who I knew myself to be, died with her.
The Shitstorm Kicked Up By Grief
In the immediate wake of my mom's death I first felt relief. No longer would I have to sit vigil to her suffering. To the pain or desperation or visible decay. At long long last, she had found peace. But sure enough as time moved on, so did that sense of reprieve. Once it really sunk in that at end of it all, I was now motherless (and more like parentless given my estranged relationship with my dad - but ooooh child that's a whole other post!), I just felt, alone. Sad, alone and fucking terrified.
Who would love me unconditionally now? Who would be there to tell me I was doing a good job or that everything would be fine? How could I parent a kid without my mother there to give advice? She didn't even get to see me get married.
"FUCK THIS!" I thought. Still do every once again.
While trying to cope with her death, I was also managing chronic pain caused by a car accident the year before. I had lost my mom as well as my go-to source for alleviating stress - physical activity. It was all too much, and I buckled under the weight of my loss. Depression, anxiety and a serious downward spiral ensued. I went to deep, dark places in my mind I didn't know existed. I lost myself for a hot minute and for a while I wasn't sure I would come back. I spent an entire day sobbing on the bathroom floor and I questioned my will to live on more than one occasion.
But amidst it all I felt in my bones that there had to be a way out. There must be something that can make me feel better and ease all this emotional pain. As frufru as it sounds, the answer was ultimately me. I learned that with the right tools in my pocket and tribe around me I could heal myself. And what a fucking lesson. To know that everything I need is within me, and always was. But it took the immense pain and suffering of compounded loss to unearth it. You know what they say -- "no pain, no gain". Well, I fucking hate that phrase but sometimes its true.
Getting from Loss, to Found.
This is the basics of loss&found. That given the right resources and loving support, you too can go from a blubbering mess to creating your highest self. Grief can be a living hell, and enduring loss in and of itself does not make us wiser - but how you choose to move through your darkest days will undoubtedly change your life forever. No matter your form of loss or how long you've been suffering - there is hope and there is help.
Do I still miss my mom? With every waking moment. But I also take active steps to honour her and continue our bond on a daily basis. Am I still in chronic pain? Fuck yes. But I've learned a lot about my body and how and when to say no. My ongoing journey of loss and grief has led me to a better understanding of myself and a healthier way of life. I practice self-love in a way I never did before and I stand, unapologetically, in who I am irrespective of who others think I should or want me to be. I know that putting myself first is actually the best way I can show up for the world and for others, and I am changing my life to better live in and from my purpose. I know life is short, health isn't promised and I want to make it count.
There's no way around it - grief fucking blows. No matter the cause - it is painful and rough and messy and there's no "right" way to do it. What I know for sure is this - if you're open to the possibility that everything that happens to you could happen for you; and are ready to take action and do some serious work to get to a better place, grief can become one of the most healing and valuable experiences of your life.
I'm here to help! xo R