Awakening: The Progression of Grief

Awakening:  The Progression of Grief

I was on a long walk with the dogs yesterday when I realized that I had missed the fifth-month anniversary of Mom’s passing. For the first time since she died, I didn’t get to the fifteenth of the month just after 9am and think of that sad morning, remember those heartbreaking last moments with her. I felt almost guilty at first, but then instead, I felt gratitude. I want to move forward, not stay mired in sad and painful memories. As I walked, I began to realize that I am going through other changes, as well. It is as if I am experiencing some sort of awakening after so many years of being totally focused on my mother and her care.

I still miss my mom a lot- I don’t think that will ever go away. However, the horrible sting of loss has faded, leaving in its place more happy memories of life with Mom. That’s the key word, I think- life. She was so full of life, right up to her last hours, and I want to always remember that, keeping her beautiful, spunky spirit in my mind and heart, and not the vivid memories of her death. She was so very much more than her death. That is the progression of grief, perhaps….we feel so much so strongly in the beginning, almost more than we think our hearts can bear, and then time slowly dulls the pain, so slowly that we don’t even notice it is happening.

Grief has been a gift to me, as strange as that may sound. It taught me so much about myself, opened me up, reordered my priorities. I see the world differently now, in ways that I can’t quite put into words yet, except to say that my feeling of gratitude has grown by leaps and bounds. I realized that I feel more purpose lately, feel more productive and engaged at work and in my playing. For so long, I felt a bit separate from everything, my mind never truly focused, as part of it was always in caregiver mode, thinking about Mom and her needs, always worrying. That part of my brain is now mine again, and it is exciting to me to feel totally engaged in my life once more. There is so much to feel, to experience, and I am excited to see what the future holds.

I think of my mother, her infectious smile and laughter, her generosity, her great capacity for love, and I feel such gratitude to have been her daughter. She raised me to be a strong woman with a big heart, and I will do my best to make her proud of me until my last breath. My grief over her loss has finally loosened its grip, and it is time to awaken to my own life, separate from my life as a daughter and caregiver.  I would not trade those years for anything in the world- they gave their own priceless gifts to me…but the river of life moves forward constantly, and we are called to swim with it.

I know there will still be moments of sadness, there will still be tears shed. A great love will inevitably come with great loss, and grief is simply the price we pay for the beautiful gift of love, so very worth any cost. A friend recently said that a broken heart was an open heart, and I truly believe that. My heart was broken wide open, and now I am ready to fill it with life, continuing to love until it hurts, without fear. Thank you, Momma.

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