In the early weeks and months after my mother died, I felt like I was walking around without skin.
Everything hurt. The pain of loss was excruciating. I felt confused, disoriented, and ungrounded.
It was the first time in life that I felt totally alone. Not just because my mother had died, but because I recognized at a very deep level that this was my journey, no one else’s.
Not my husband’s. Not my father’s. Nor my siblings. They were all grieving. Just in their own way which looked nothing like mine. Each of my siblings had their own relationship with my mother (all of us were close to her), but our different personalities determined how we grieved.
- My brother didn’t want to talk about it.
- My youngest sister had to dive right into caregiving for my father who had been ailing for several years--and she didn’t have the luxury of grieving in the way she needed to.
- My other sister was overseas (just like me) and in the trenches of parenting her young son.
- I was an eight-month-old immigrant in the United States and floundering in my own way, far away from everything that was familiar and comforting.
- My husband was in a new job and needed to invest his energies into making our lives work in a new country.
Other people’s comments, unsolicited advice, suggestions, and attempts to fix me...just hurt even more. I didn’t want to be fixed. I didn’t want to hear how everything happened for the best, or even worse, how God gave us only what we could handle.
I just wanted my mother back.
And I knew that was not ever going to happen. She was not coming back, and I didn’t know where she’d gone, how to find her, or make a connection with her.
When loss is fresh, grief feels raw and jagged. And it’s normal to think the following thought:
I’ll always feel like this. I’ll feel like this for the rest of my life.
But grief does change shape—if you open your heart and let healing in.
Today I know where my mother went, and how to make a connection with her. I know people just wanted to be comforting when they said what they did. I was hurting too much to appreciate their sentiments. I know God had nothing to do with taking my mother away. I don’t blame Him/Her anymore.
The jagged edges around grief do round and soften. The ache of tenderness makes you more human, more compassionate, more caring.
So if you are exactly where I was all those years ago, please don’t despair. Time, an open heart, and investing in your healing will help you find your way back to you.
Don’t decide how you’re going to feel (forever) by how you’re feeling today.