My mom died on the 28th of February and the first thing I thought of was how her birthday was on the 29th. It didn’t matter that one was in February and the other November; that first night she died all I kept thinking about was how weird it would be to celebrate her birth just one day after mourning her death.
Here’s a list of things that have gotten easier since my mom died:
1. The date she died
The first year after I lost my mom, every month was met with the sting of the 28th. Regardless of the month or what we had planned, that date symbolized a time frame. This many months ago my mom was alive: six, five, four, three, two, one.
As I’ve neared the second year of grieving, the importance of the 28th for any given month has become easier to deal with. Now, the only one that truly stings is the anniversary of her actual passing.
2. Not having her voicemails to listen to
For the record, I have all of my mother’s voicemails saved to my computer at home because I was terrified of the day when my phone would collapse and I’d lose the only thing I have left to preserve her memory.
When I’d bought the iPhone X in March, none of her voicemails transferred over, meaning that when I’m having a bad day, I can’t just open one to be comforted by her voice. It’s been something I’ve learned to live without, despite how hard it is. It’s gotten easier to live without using her voice as a crutch.
3. Realizing that she isn’t going to text me back
When I was in grief counseling, one thing my therapist said was to tread carefully when it came to honoring my mom’s traditions. An example of this was texting her or buying her a card on a specific holiday. While I’ve never bought a card for her since her passing, I’ve texted her during down days. Each and every time it, I get an undelivered message. Over time, the pain has gotten better and I message her, knowing she won’t text me back, but because in that moment, I need to just have a concrete way of telling her that I miss her.
It’s gotten easier to know that those text messages are for me, rather than trying to connect with her and wait for a miracle.
4. Developing a stronger sense of self
I remember my therapist saying that it was pretty normal for those who have lost a parent to reach that a-ha moment when they realized they were an adult. Losing a parent evolves you. It’s an experience that you grow from, so it’s no wonder why I’ve developed a stronger sense of self throughout this process. I’ve become a bit more uninhabited since losing her because I’ve had to endure things that forced my hand when my dad was too broken to do them.
Things like buying her headstone, closing down credit cards and credit unions, and cleaning out her office were all tasks that I had no choice but to handle and tackle myself. There’s something to be said about being in a situation when you have to be strong for the other person. For as much as I miss my mom and as devastated as I am by her death, my dad is more broken than me. He lost his partner of 40 years. He lost his wife. He lost his world. My only role is to be there for him, and it’s one that I take proudly – as my mother would have wanted me to.
5. Getting hurt
Since losing my mom, I’ve undoubtedly become more sensitive. Words can – and have – been taken out of context, magnified and dissected, but mostly, have just hurt my feelings. It’s been a lot easier to feel hurt, to take things personally because right now, my emotions are at an all-time high.
For this, be patient with yourself. You’re allowing yourself to grieve. Sensitivity is a part of the package; it’s especially – nothing to be ashamed of. Allow yourself to feel these emotions.
One thing that has gotten me through particularly difficult days is something my mom said to me when she was alive: you’re never wrong in how you feel.
It’s been a motto I’ve taken to heart quite often since losing her and adapting to my new norm. It’s not always easy, but there are things that have begun to heal in time as I near the second year of being a motherless daughter. Grief never gets better, but I guess, with time, it does become a little easier to manage.