Since my mother passed away

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Today, Thursday August 4, 2016, marks 158 days since my mother passed away. Stated another way, it has been four months, two weeks, and one day. It has been even longer since her cancer diagnosis, which was in January of 2013, but I digress. This is a significant day, and I’m sure you are wondering why. It’s not an anniversary, not a holiday, and not even anyone in my immediate family’s birthday. So what is the special significance of this specific day?

Well, there isn’t any … other than my mother is still gone.

Even though there’s no particular reason to mention it today, I still miss her, and many others do, too. That’s the nature of grief. While there are designated times for the general public to mourn, console, and comfort, grief doesn’t adhere to that schedule. Grief, oftentimes, is a life-long journey, or decades-long journey.

Donna writes poignantly on this point when discussing the months after she lost her husband and three children in a car accident. She says in her book,

            “But, as the months wore on, I sensed “grief fatigue” in them. They had reached out to me, had worked through their own sorrow, and now needed to move on. I became embarrassed and felt like a burden, because to stay in my world meant to acknowledge throughout every waking moment of every day that horrible, irreversible things happened to good people. I understood how paralyzing that could be. On the other hand, I’m not sure people understood my need to live in the moment. I couldn’t just move on, and I probably offended some in the process of declining invitations to weddings, Confirmations, dinner parties, Bar Mitzvahs, and even family get-togethers. I just wasn’t ready. With Nanci, Michael, John, Madeline, and Donna, I never had to pretend or make excuses. But, with the rest of the world, I began to feign I wasn’t a sorry mess inside.”

It strikes me as being true that after some ill-defined period of time we feel as if we are somehow weak by admitting we are still hurting. It is as if the world has convinced us there is an expiration date on any sort of pain we feel, and we are inadequate if we can’t expunge that pain from our hearts within that arbitrary time frame. While true to my experience, this line of reasoning also strikes me as illogical and as an unfair burden to place upon ourselves.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Notice there is not a deadline attached. He does not say that they will be comforted in 15 days, 15 weeks, or even 15 years. God’s promise to us is that in His time, He “will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” (Revelation 21:4)

Amid this despair, we cannot find comfort in our own innate strength to persevere. It cannot be found in hardening our hearts to numb ourselves from all emotions, blocking out the good with the bad. Rather, we must feel our emotions, because that hole in our hearts was created by the loss of our loved one, and so it serves as a reminder of the enormity of the love we feel for the one we lost. In this way, our pain illustrates to us our own immense capacity to love, and love is precisely how and why God made us. We should nurture that love even if it means grief will join us as a bittersweet companion for the rest of our lives.

So, when it’s the 158th day of your grief journey (or any other arbitrary day), and the pain is still piercing, try to remember you only feel that pain because God blessed you with someone you loved so much. And when it all begins to feel like too much, remember you can take comfort in Christ Jesus and find strength in His promise.

8 thoughts on “Since my mother passed away

  1. Angela says:

    …and as another wise man (her husband) said, “how blessed [we] are that [we] experienced a love so grand that [our] heart[s] can break forever.”

  2. Anita Menarde says:

    So beautifully said, Will. I still miss your Mom every single day. No one will ever replace her and I will never stop grieving and I will never stop loving her. I’m so blessed to have had her in my life. She’s in my heart and will always always
    be.
    God bless you in your grieving and in loving your Mom so deeply.
    Anita M. ((Little sheet)

  3. Jodi says:

    That was beautiful. Grief CAN take a long time!! But thank God the pain lessons over the years. God is the ultimate healer, bringing beauty from ashes.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    “our pain illustrates to us our own immense capacity to love” truly stood out and resonated with me. It is very true that society and even people close to us seem to place a deadline or snap out of it expectation upon you in a time of despair. Yet, that is their own issue, for loving & feeling so deeply is a blessing even days we are angry over it. Beautifully said Will.

  5. Donna says:

    Will, such encouragement for those who grieve and such a tribute to your mom. I see so much of her reflected in the person you are. Great blog! Thank you for opening your heart to us.

  6. Donna Diaz says:

    Dear Will,
    What a beautiful tribute to your mom! I was particularly touched reading your entry because it was dated Aug 4th–my own mother’s birthday. I have been fortunate because my mom just turned 83 yrs old today. Having her physically in my life (as well as in the lives of all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) is an incredible blessing. However, I was just around your age 25 + yrs. ago when I lost my dad very suddenly to a heart attack a few days before the Christmas holiday. My father was such a large presence in my life and in the lives of my family. Sadly, he did not get to know his grand & great-grandchildren. He would have loved cheering at their games, enjoying their recitals, and doing all those sweet grandpa things. Yes, he certainly has not been here in a physical sense. However, through the years, not only I–but so many of the people who knew and loved my dad–have said that they feel his spiritual presence all the time!!! I now smile widely when I think of him and the legacy he left behind. I do hope that as you move on through this early part of grieving your dear mother’s loss, you can truly believe that your mom lives on always through you and all that she loved. She would be very proud of your writings AND that you especially remembered her today—158 days since she left this earth.

  7. Anita says:

    Oh Will….What a beautiful tribute to the love you shared and still hold for your wonderful mother. I miss her too. and I love her too. But to read of the love that you have for her is so inspiring. I lost my Mom and Dad within three months of each other. They were young, she 68 and he 70. Grieving for them is a process that I am still encountering after 21+ years. Try to remember all the special memories that you shared over all the years together. I know that I do. It helps.
    God bless you, Will.

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