On April 10, 2001, my life changed drastically. My beautiful mom passed away of ovarian cancer at the age of 40, not even a full year after her diagnosis. I was ten years old.
Now, it doesn’t matter what age we are when we lose a parent. It’s difficult at any age. But at ten, I was at that weird point in my life where I was on the verge of understanding what this loss meant without having the full mental capacity to navigate this new normal. It was a struggle for many years after she passed away, as I learned more and more what this meant for me personally.
It meant watching your friends’ parents cheer them on at track meets and school events. It meant watching friends get pictures with their moms at proms and graduation. It meant getting into college and not being able to tell her. It meant finding the love of my life and not being able to see what she thinks about him. It meant getting dressed without her on my wedding day. It meant seeing a single white rose in her place as I walked down the aisle instead of an actual person. It meant being the shoulder to lean on when my friend’s lost their moms. It meant feeling very alone at times, years later, when I felt the sadness creep in because people I’ve met since her passing didn’t know her. It will mean having kids and them not knowing her.
There is just so much this loss has meant over the last 18 years. And as much as I have missed out on and as many memories I will never have with my mom, my life is in a unimaginable place BECAUSE of her loss.
I know for a fact I would not be the same person I am today if my mom were around. I don’t think I would be so in love with growth and personal development if she were still here today. I miss my mom so much and I wish more than anything I could talk to her one more time and just have her talk back to me. But I wouldn’t have the tools to help people through hard times if I didn’t experience them myself.
I wouldn’t have compassion coursing through my veins nor would I have the resilience to bounce back and reclaim my power when things go “wrong.”
It took me years to get there, but there truly is life after death. If there is one thing I know for a fact in this life, it’s that we are all going to die. Sure, I could spend my days wallowing in sadness and hurt, blaming life for taking so much away from me when I was so young.
But then I would miss out on the beautiful memories that are here for the taking. I would miss out on the joy of seeing my dogs greet me at the door when I get home from work. I would miss out on the adventures with friends and family at the lake or back in my college town. I would miss out on the beautiful novels and personal development books that exist in the world today. Music wouldn’t fill my soul. Chips and salsa wouldn’t taste so good (had to throw that in there). I would be closed off to love. I would be closed off to all things GOOD.
I’m here to say that when loved ones die, we don’t have to die with them. Sometimes, that’s going to feel really tough. Especially if loss is recent. I don’t care what anyone says, loss hurts. It will rip into your soul and test you in ways you never thought possible. You’ll want to wave a white flag at times because it will feel so unbearable.
But then, one day, you’ll wake up and notice the sun shining just a little brigther. You’ll feel a little lighter and the tears won’t come as often. Food will start to taste like it used to, colors will start to pop again, and you’ll realize that your soul has begun to heal. Your heart doesn’t hurt so much.
You may want to grasp at the pain and hold on to it, because it’s what got you through those first few days, months, years… but let it go. When you let go of the pain and the sadness, it doesn’t mean you’re forgetting your loved one or leaving them in the past.
It simply means you’re giving yourself permission to move FORWARD.
Just like your loved one(s) would want. I know my mom would never want me to hold myself back from living just because she isn’t able to do so herself. In fact, that’s why I’m so intent on living a life of peace, freedom, joy, and happiness. Because I have seen plenty of death in this lifetime. I have seen the dark days. I have barely made it by on some occasions.
And I can tell you that feeding into those times only made it harder. Yes, I have my days still. With it being six days until the anniversary of my mom’s passing, I can feel the sadness setting in. I can feel the “what ifs” running through my mind. I can feel the lump rising in my throat, the tears stinging my eyes. Because every anniversary, every birthday, and every holiday reminds me that there is someone very important missing. There are many important people missing.
But I know all those emotions and physical sensations pass, just like the days do. I laugh on these days, just like I sometimes cry. Because I have the gift of living.
If you’re experiencing loss right now that’s fresh and raw, please don’t feel as if seeing life as a gift has to be your current mindset. Your hurt and your sadness is valid. Let yourself move through the emotions and let yourself grieve. But when the day comes for you to choose the happiness again, I urge you to choose that path. It will be hard. It will feel uncomfortable. But it will be worth it. A weight will be lifted and the air you breath will feel fresh and light again.
Love and peace are possible again. Giving yourself permission to live is one of the biggest gifts you can give your deceased loved one (s). To see your smile light up a room and to see your joy gives THEM joy. They get to smile in that room with you.
Trust that our experiences lead us to a greater purpose in life. There IS life after death. You are entitled to it. Your loved ones WANT THAT for you. Live for them. But most importantly, live for yourself.