On Sympathy

On Sympathy

I have been so fortunate to have such a wonderful support system to stand by me in the loss of my mother. I couldn’t have gotten through it without the love, the kind words and gestures, and the heartfelt sympathy. It meant the world to me, and I will be forever grateful. However, when I recently began to feel like I couldn’t or shouldn’t write about my feelings following Mom’s death, I decided it was time to address the issue of sympathy and its role in my healing process.

I have strived from the very beginning to be honest about my feelings and experiences surrounding Mom’s illness and passing. I won’t lie- I went through a rough time after she died where I was living in a fog- I cried at any mention or reminder of Mom, my short term memory left me, and I wanted to hole up in my home and hide from the world to mourn my loss. I am now approaching the three month mark since Mom passed, and I am in a very different place…a place where sympathy is no longer warranted, and perhaps is really no longer healthy for me as I move forward. I have always struggled with the ability to speak up for myself, afraid that I would hurt someone’s feelings, and the past few years I have been working on finding my voice – it is even part of the title of my blog. This post is in no way meant to offend anyone- I am so grateful for this loving community. However, I feel strongly enough about this, that I need to voice my feelings.

Writing about what I am experiencing as I heal from this deep loss is important to me, but I don’t ever want people to think I am asking for sympathy. The writing is therapeutic to me, and I learn and grow from the process. Also, I hope that in sharing my feelings and experiences, I might be able to help someone else know what they might expect, know that they aren’t alone in their grief. Losing an elderly parent isn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t give the loss any less impact. I want to somehow show that while grief and loss are painful, that the sadness passes, the light returns, life- as it always will- goes on. The cycle of life is a precious and beautiful thing in all of its facets, its experiences making us more human, more aware, more humble, more grateful.

I am doing well, moving forward with my life. Yes, I miss my mother terribly; yes, the path of grief will take me down many detours along the way; yes, I still tear up when something triggers a certain memory; yes, this first holiday without my snowman-loving-Christmas-carol-singing Heavy D will be tough…but, she and her love are always with me in spirit. I am her daughter, and I will be fine, just as she was with all of the losses she faced in her almost ninety-three years. All of us will experience loss in our lives of some kind- it truly is the universal experience.

Grief is the price we pay for great love, so very worth the cost. I know that I can never truly move forward and heal if I keep wrapping myself in a blanket of sympathy- I need to continue to open my heart to life, cherishing the wonderful memories I have of Mom, safe  in the knowledge that she loved me with all of her heart, and she left the world having no doubt that I felt the same for her. What a gift that is. My hope is that people will just send love and kind thoughts to me, as I do for them. The time for sympathy has passed…it is a new day. Life truly is good, and I am so grateful for all of you who have travelled this road with me.

Then dawn of a new and beautiful day.
Then dawn of a new and beautiful day.

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