More observations from my journey of grief

As a writer, I find journaling a helpful process in the wake of losing my mom

My mom died nearly seven weeks ago, and I’m just now really facing the realities of it.

During those first couple of weeks, I think I was in a bubble of sorts – I felt protected from the onslaught of grief by being surrounded by a ‘cocoon’ of support. There were lots of family and friends around, and you almost feel like you are being carried along for a while.

Today, I’m trying to find a ‘new normal’.

But it’s a battle. There are times when I feel such despair at the thought of not seeing mom again in this life. I miss her desperately. I also miss what my life was like when she was here – the routines that we had developed over the years. I’m not saying it was perfect – I didn’t love going to the local grocery store so frequently for example – but I loved being with mom and sharing the most ordinary of experiences with her.

It didn’t take much to make mom happy – I think mainly, she just loved to be with her kids. I could call her and say I was heading out to do any number of errands, and she was always game to join me whether that meant stopping by the bank or washing my car.

Of course, she always enjoyed shopping and going for coffee, and several years back one of her favourite things to do would be going for drives. I smile when I think of how such simple things made her happy. I miss those moments so much.

With mom’s death, my life has changed.

Gone are the phone calls, the visits, the conversations, the advice, the wisdom she would give about any number of things. Gone is the prayer support that I likely never really knew the full impact of. I not only miss mom because of how much I loved her, but also because of how much she loved me. She was always happy when I’d pop by for an evening visit, and would often say, ‘Oh, I wasn’t expecting you tonight – but I’m so glad you came!’

I’ve learned that to have a mother like I did is a tremendous blessing – really, it’s one of the greatest gifts that you can have in this journey we call life. As I’ve said before, no one cared for me like she did. Even as a middle-aged man, she was concerned about every facet of my life it seemed – my bank account, whether a coat was warm enough, if I had had supper.

‘What’s on your mind, Mark?’ she would ask with single-minded focus.

My heart aches over this loss – and I know I will never be quite the same. I know that in time, I will laugh again, I will heal, I will appreciate the blessings of everyday life. The tears won’t come so startlingly easy as they do now. But there will always be something ‘missing’.

I know I quote C.S. Lewis frequently, but I recall reading how when he lost his mother at a young age, things changed forever in how he would ultimately feel about life – even as a man.

‘With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.’

Sea and islands.

I can relate to that feeling – it’s a feeling of loneliness I’m trying to run away from, of fear, of uncertainty. Where do I go now? I did the best I knew how to do for mom. I wasn’t perfect, but I always tried to help her and be there for her.

I often think of mom when I look at the sky. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s reflective of the immense freedom that I know she now enjoys. I wonder if she thinks of me – I hope she does. I feel torn inside – like something that was such a huge part of me has been ripped away and I’m grappling for some kind of solace.

I’ve had this recurring image in my mind of a woman walking down a road with a child by her side in the middle of winter. Both figures are dark, far-off silhouettes against a brilliant white sky. It feels like a nearby neighourhood from where I grew up. It’s thoughts like that – in some ways – that are the most painful.

But in anther way, they bring comfort, too.

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