Yesterday afternoon, your world was turned upside down and NOTHING will ever be the same for you. I, too, loss my mother when I was 18. My mom was not a public figure, so my grief wasn’t compounded by millions of people or media outlets prying into what was the most unfathomable time in my life. I have step and half-siblings, but I am my mother’s only child, she was my everything and I was her shadow. That seems to be the relationship you had with your mother. Right about now, you maybe still be processing what happened and are going through the motions and emotions with your support system is surrounding you. In the coming days, you will plan funeral services, scour through old photos for an obituary, and choose that final dress. You will spend the days before the funeral with family and friends, who you haven’t seen in years, and they will share great memories of your mother. Finally, the dreaded day of the funeral will arrive. This will be the LONGEST and HARDEST day of your life. You will need an aspirin by the days end. All of this, you may have already thought of, but it’s what happens after the funeral, after the last covered dish has been delivered, after the final out-of-town guest leaves, that I want to prepare you for.
When everyone leaves, and you mother is no longer headline news or trending on Twitter, the magnitude of your loss will sink in. Everyone goes back to their “normal” lives and you are left to find your “normal”, at 18. Yes, you will have your father, grandmother, family and friends around. I had my dad, siblings, cousins, etc, but I loss my glue, my confidante, my best friend an it took some time to figure out what that meant for me and my life. This type of loss is hard at any age, but extremely difficult at 18 because you are just becoming an independent woman and you were relying on your mother to help you navigate the next phase in life. You will rack your brain with your future decisions wondering what your mother would advise. Don’t do that! I’ve learned that in my 18 years with my mother, she taught and I learned more than I thought. It will come to you. Now, you will make mistakes and some of them will be major, but learn from them and use them to build on the foundation your mother laid out for you. After the death of my mom, my inner circle got smaller. I had to re-evaluate people in my life because not everyone who will claim to be “for you” right now is not telling the truth.
As the days turn into weeks and the weeks become months and the months years, the day-to-day pain will lessen. Sometimes, you may go days without consciously thinking about your mother. Other days, something will trigger a memory and you will find yourself in the shower, cooking dinner or driving down the highway, crying your eyes out. Through it all, you will live the life you were meant to live and it will be well. However, life’s big events: major work accomplishments, marriage, the birth of your children, will bring you back to the fact that she isn’t here and your heart will hurt.
The most important advice I can give you is to be strong and pray. You will hear that a lot over the next few days, but it’s true. Please, don’t confuse being strong with not grieving or not taking the time to grieve. Being strong, will take every bit of willpower you can muster up. It will have to be conscience decision you make each and every day. It will be very easy to curl up in a ball, say screw the world and wither away. It will be easy to use this as an excuse for your life spin out of control in a downward spiral. Not everyone can do it, but I know you can. When you think you can’t, just remember all the conversations you’ve had with your mother about your future. Remember what you wanted out of life before February, 11 2012. If there are days when even those memories aren’t enough, know that there is 32year old who stood in your shoes 14 years ago, and I’m praying hard for you, just as I know someone prayed hard for me.
image source: BCK