Grief. I haven’t experienced it this closely before. I mean, I’ve been sad when people have passed and I’ve lost some relatives I’ve loved, but never like this. I thought I understood it pretty well and was prepared.
But grief at losing my mom is different. It just creeps up behind me and dumps over my head like I’m a pro football coach that just won a championship … except there are no laughs and no trophy coming next.
There have been maybe three things in my life that I know my mom was pretty darn proud of.
She always loved introducing me and saying, “he’s a minister.” She grew up in a generation where that was a title of respect and honor. She grew up in a generation where “minister” was a respected community position right up there with doctor and lawyer. She’d scold me for wearing jeans, having a pierced ear and tattoo and she’d let me know how I wasn’t measuring up to her minister standard, but she was always happy that my faith was alive and active.
Secondly, she thought my dad game was strong. She liked the way I made time for my family, played with my kids and took time to explain things to them. She always had advice on how my husband game could improve, but my dad game was solid in Mom’s estimation.
Lastly, creativity. Mom liked it when I would take the time to create. She loved it when I would write poetry and short stories. She loved it when I would make photographs and share them with her. Anything that I created was valued by Mom.
That’s where the grief bucket got dumped over my head this morning at about 4:00 AM. I had been awake since 3:30 staring up at the ceiling, dimly lit by our charging electronics, when I decided to go through yesterday’s photos on my phone and post my favorites to social media.
“Mom is going to love these pictures of Chloe,” I thought. “I’ll print some for this week’s visit …” Oh … wait … she’s gone.
I shook off the initial wave and went through some more pictures. “Maybe I’ll frame a print of this peony for Mom …” came the next thought. No, Mom would have loved it but, no.
And then the tears. The grief bucket washed over me in full force and I had to get out of bed to try to shake it off. The tears followed me to the Keurig and even turned up a notch when I grabbed a Raspberry Chocolate K-cup. Mom loved it when I brought her some of my froo-froo coffee flavors. She scolded me when she discovered how much they cost me but, still, she loved it when I’d make her a cup.
A grief bucket nearly took me out yesterday while I was delivering my message at church. Somehow, I managed to suppress it and push mindlessly on so that only my friend John noticed. Mid-sentence, talking about all being part of the body of Christ, I thought of Mom and how this minister stuff was one of the things she most loved about the man I am now. I held it together until I got home and cried with my wife in the driveway and then again with my sister in the kitchen.
I want to know how long these surprise attacks are going to continue. I don’t like them. I prefer control.
I’m thinking, at least for awhile, I may be printing more photos than normal. One as a gift for the hospice house, several for walls at the South Paris Veterans Home, and then … I don’t know where else … all with “Mom would have liked this one” as my motivation.
Mom passed her creative eye on to me. She bought me my first camera when I was just 11 years old. She paid to get my film developed and would sit and comment about how good this picture was and how she liked the composition of that picture.
Even as she got into her eighties, and even after she lost the sight in one of her eyes, I knew I could bring my up photo books and artwork and she would love looking at them and would ask me questions. She loved that almost as much as when I would swing through Haven’s Candies and pick up a fresh box of Needhams chocolates.
I’m going to miss my Mom. I’m going to miss her a lot.
You gave her lots of reasons to be proud. I’m glad you know that and can hold on to those memories.
From my experience, losing one’s mom is like losing a piece of oneself and learning to live without that piece. One finds a way to keep going, but the gap is never filled. Comforted? Yes. Come to terms with it? Yes. Replaced? Never.
The time with the adult kids and grandchildren and family gatherings become bittersweet; times Mom would have enjoyed. Life gives a “new normal” ~ with a sense of depth and love for the one who is no longer with us; a longing for the days when the conversation was, but a moving forward into the future; knowing that we must continue on our path.
The comfort and consolation is that one day there will be a great reunion in Heaven, with no more heartache. Thank you Jesus for making this possible. Until then, we carry on, knowing we were loved and loving others that same way.
Two months ago I lost my baby brother of 55 after learning of his cancer at Christmas.
I think I understand the grief bucket dump… and loss of control. I’ve lost other relatives too soon… my wife’s sister at age 36… and some friends from church that were campers at Nomacca when you counseled there.
Thankfully, we don’t live as those with no hope… ! I’m not praying that you’ll find relief from your grief. More than likely, grief will be your relief. The heartache will fade. You’ll feel like you’re in control, but somehow the grief bucket seems to stand ready for those times when you least suspect it.
You’ve remembered her well and honored her with your life. I bless the name of the Lord and am thankful you’ve shared the words above. I think they might help me, too.
In His Grip,
How long will it last? That’s not an answer God chooses to share with us. From my experiences losing Dad at age 15 and losing Mom when I was in my late 40’s, I know that those intense waves of grief will be frequent for a month or so. And they will not be predictable; they’ll be crashing over you before you even see them building in the distance. Then, one day, you’ll realize -“Hey, I haven’t had one of those grief waves in two day (or a week, or a….)”. And you will see that they subside.
Holidays and birthdays and even family gathering will bring the next high tide and crashing waves, but even those waves diminish (kind of like you’re driving south from a nor’easter in Maine to the calm and gentle waves of a sunny week in Florida).
Don’t be embarrassed. Now us the time for your brothers and sisters and friends to give you space to grieve when you need it, a hug as you grieve when you need that, and a tissue (or full sized bath towel!) when you need it to mop up the tears.
Thank you for your vulnerability through the grief.