An anticipated loss

This week marks ten years since my mother died of cancer. My mother’s death was not a surprise; it was an anticipated death. I knew that she would die in spite of all the medical efforts to keep her alive. Death is inevitable, and it touches everyone in a way or another. I was preparing myself for this loss by believing that this would never happen. I remember spending the days on cancer forums, asking questions, and slowly realizing that there will be no cure. Often I cried myself to sleep in fear that I would be losing my mother soon.

The devastating moment

I was not with my mom when she died. I was 8400 miles away. The day she died, my heart was crushing, and something didn’t feel right. I wanted to cry. Then I received a message on my phone – “Mommy is dead.” She died after fighting terminal cancer diagnosed three months earlier. She suffered a lot of pain from her illness. Despite the emotional relief that her suffering has ended and she will be able to sleep, my heart froze. I was outraged and devastated. I had spoken to my mother a day before and now realizing that I will be not hearing her voice and will not be able to talk to her, tears rolled down my cheeks. Then began the gruesome sixteen hours journey to see my dead mother and touch her one last time. I saw my mother’s body and felt it. It was cold.  I kept on looking for her all around me. I could not find her. She was gone.  And, it was the first time that I was without her when I needed her most — my first loss without my mom.

Living after losing my mother

Losing a parent is heart-wrenching, and nothing can fill the void. The grief changes its shape, but it exists.  My mother said that time heals everything, and one day, I will get over this sadness as she did when her mom died, but for me, it seems to take forever. This decade-year-old grief has stayed the same. What has changed is the way I have been holding to her memories. The last ten years have been a struggle. Life kept on moving after my mother died, and I had many personal achievements and losses. My dog died, had a miscarriage, got a job, got my master’s degree, struggled with infertility, had my first baby and then the second one lost some friends, struggled with depression and anxiety, lost my sister in law to sudden death, and so on and so much that I kept to myself. There are some days when I would like to talk to her, and I would pretend to call her on my phone — just trying to feel her voice on the other side.

Coping with the loss

“Everyone grieves differently. No one handles the loss of a loved one the same. Some put on a brave face for others, keeping everything internal. Others let it all out at once and shatter, only to pick up the pieces just as quickly as they came apart. Still, others don’t grieve at all, implying they are incapable of emotion.” ― T.J. Klune, Into This River I Drown Quote by T.J. Klune: “Everyone grieves differently. No one ….

I grieved by not talking about my mother. I shut myself down. Switched off the feeling, put away her memories in an invisible box. It helped me unloading my grief and carry on to live life at its best. However, some days, I open the box and close my eyes, trying to remember the joyful days with her. Some days all the memories would outburst, and the heart would overflow with grief.

Lessons I learned after losing my mom

1.  Death teaches big lessons. It shows us that we do not own our life, and life can take it away at any moment and rob all our desires and plans.
2. Everyone at one point has to deal with the loss, whether you like it or not, and you will never know the feeling until you face it. You may want to cry your heart out, or you may not cry at all. And it’s okay.
3. It is okay for the people who have not experienced a traumatic loss not to empathize or understand your situation.
4. You learn that small things can bring great joy, and one needs to live in the moment to realize happiness.
5. Celebrate every birthday. It marks your existence. Not everyone gets the privilege to stay alive.
6. Forgive people often. Take out the bitterness from your heart and look around. Build memories of people you love.
7. Seek help for grief support and loss.

Love yourself and take care of yourself. It is okay to be selfish sometimes.

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