Today will mark eleven days that I have laid my beautiful mother to rest. So, I figured it may be time to do part 2…even unto Death (click here if you need to read part 1). I wish I could tell you it was painless, it was not. I wish I could tell you I didn’t feel the sting of death or shed tears, but I did. However, I can tell you, it did not crush me.
My grief did not overtake my joy, my mourning did not overtake my hope, and my loss did not overtake her gain. I’m not here to tell you about her death, but I am here to share what I have learned over the last few years. As I have walked and am walking through this grief, I have learned some life lessons that I feel mom would be proud of and would have wanted me to share with others… the process.
Processes aren’t easy. They take time, intentionality, patience and grace; and those are the things you will be required to give to yourself before you can even think about giving them to others. I had to learn how to acknowledge and take care of my emotions and strength. I had to first practice on me, so that I would have it right for them. I had to learn about boundaries and that they are good. You see in my family we didn’t have boundaries…we had walls. Walls that would “protect us” from hurt and from the outside. However, these same walls also kept us isolated … isolated from each other.
I had to learn about healthy boundaries. What was ok to say yes or no to, because yes was my default for family and no was the default for all others. How can I love someone for all that they are, the way they are if I don’t let them past the wall?... the wall that was “safe”. I learned that boundaries are safe zones. They protect me so that I can let people in and allow my love touch them. So that I am not hidden or isolated behind a wall but safe and open to connect and care. I also had to learn how not to be enmeshed with my mother. I didn’t know this was a thing or even what it was, but it was the healthiest change I implemented for me and for her. This gave us the opportunity to remain close while still allowing growth and love to happen.
I have learned over the past few years to view the beauty in all situations. Even the worst of the worst, there is beauty in it. When Harvey came through and wiped my mother’s apartment out, taking everything she owned, it can be hard to see the beauty in that. However, it gave me a month of close time with her living in our home. A time of cracking her corny jokes with her tooth gapped mischievous tilted grin, and waving her strong right hand in the air if we didn’t walk the straight and narrow like she thought we should. Beautiful memories.
Embracing the understanding that grief is a process and not a quick come and go emotion, or a life-long sentence, allowed me to to step into her final days with grace. The practice of choosing beauty and being present before her death allowed me to
focus on her legacy instead of my loss,
her life power instead of her weakness,
and her legacy of humor to be passed down and celebrated instead of only tears.
Tears cleanse the soul but laughter heals it.
So those roses that were so carefully handled and preserved so many years ago are now protected on display as a beautiful memory of what was, and what she has left us to become. Her Legacy is remembered, honored, and continues. There is not a loss of her, only a remembrance of the things that matter.
Here are links to some of the helpful books and reads that walked me through this process, allowing her legacy to out live my loss. Teaching me how to grieve, love, and become an unwalled vessel in life.
The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown (yes it took all of them lol)