How To Survive The Anniversary Of A Parent’s Death


Tomorrow will be just another day, but today, it’s not. Two years after my mom’s death, the anniversary feels like it’s somewhere between midnight and a hurricane. I feel sensitive, like I’m bruised.

There are days we all celebrate, that we tell ourselves to remember though we weren’t around for. They speak solace to a large group of people but ultimately end up becoming another day where flags are raised and ribbons are worn, holding less of an emotional bond and more of a reminder of how shitty the world can be. Then there are days that are business as usual to the rest of the world, but are so poignant in your existence you feel the world shift with each step you take and the gravity becomes so physical you wonder if the horizon changed directions.

The morning my mother took her last breath, I felt like she took mine with her. The world was a buzz around me, even in still of winter and I couldn’t connect. Two years later, I still battle how to feel on days like today, and Mother’s Day, and Christmas. Can I grieve openly without feeling like I’m soliciting pity? I don’t need anyone to feel bad for me, I do a solid job of that sometimes, but maybe I need someone to look me in the eyes and say that it’s okay to be 26 — to be 36, to be 56 — and cry over your mom being gone. It’s okay to shut yourself and be messy if only for a day. It’s okay to not try and make yourself feel better because you just need to let it all out.

“You got up, showered, went to work and didn’t screw up too badly. Sure, that’s a given on most days but you did it TODAY. Good job, kid. You’re doing just fine.”

On this anniversary, I shrink to my 5 year-old self that just wants to go in her room with her teddy bear and crayons. I want to be the the 17 year-old that could drive to the ocean in her old Chevy Corsica with a medium iced coffee, and breathe every drop of salty air that my lungs could hold. I want to be the first time I saw my college degree, and the first time I saw the Chicago skyline. I want to be the day my first essay got published, a moment I realized that my words could heal in the way Buddy Wakefield’s did for me.

But I’m not that person today. I’m muddy snow and overcooked asparagus. I’m 30 seconds too late for a long bus ride home.

It’s fine to just be, provided I’m functioning. That’s all I can ask of today, even if no one is around to tell me that.

So to the person that just lost, is losing, or is trudging through an anniversary you never hoped to have — this day might rival your worst days. It might be the softest spot on the calendar for the next indefinitely. Each second might be hard to chew and each minute tough to swallow. I get that, but what I’m finding out is that the healing doesn’t come when this day gets better, it comes when every other one around it starts to.

And they do. It does. That I can promise you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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