Mother Loss & the Necessity of Self Care
My Mother’s birthday is April 1st.
The month of April encompasses her birthday, then my birthday, sometimes Easter. Closely followed by Mother’s Day.
This time of year when everything is coming awake again my mama is never far from my thoughts.
Mother Loss and Nurturing Ourselves
April Showers Bring May Flowers
Normally, on her birthday I would have planted flowers, pansies. They were one of her favorites. However, our spring rains put a damper on it. The rain has only postponed it. (Oh, how we need this rain!) I am always looking for new ways to honor my Mother that remain meaningful and personal.
I often wonder what she would look like and what we would talk about. What kind of relationship would she have with our children? My Mother was sweet, kind, intelligent, very thoughtful and loving. She had a great sense of humor. She laughed at my antics. She got my inside jokes.
She was beautiful.
She was so many wonderful things.
We had a good relationship. We were close.
She died at 45. I was 16 years old.
Our relationship, forever crystallized at this point in our development. We will never know anything more.
She was murdered by my father while I slept. After he shot my mother, he shot himself.
I slept through it all.
I woke to my little sister and brother whispering to me from the foot of my bed.
“I think Dad’s in the house.”
I went downstairs. I opened the door to my parents’ bedroom.
I found my Father.
I found my Mother.
I lost myself.
I lost my soft place to land and my anchor. My world would never be the same.
I walked around with an invisible gaping wound for a long time.
All those thoughts once shared. “I can’t wait to tell Mom … ”
You can’t pick up the phone. You can’t walk in the front door. You can never go home again. Where there was once warmth and love, emptiness.
The loving presence with a willing ear and kind words at the ready is missing, replaced with unbearable silence. I miss her voice. I miss her company.
Holidays and birthdays, all those rites of passage? Absence.
The day I lost my Mother, is the day the world lost its shine.
I sought to work through my immense grief with talk therapy and running, lots and lots of running. Over the years I have learned what works for me.
Yet, I know there is no set period to grieve. It comes and goes in waves. It can be postponed but it will not be ignored. Unless those close to you have experienced such a loss, there is no comprehension of the residual grief. Grief is personal, primal even. We all do it in our own way.
To grieve is to be human.
We’ve been told time heals all wounds but there are scars that ache, more in some years than others and this year is shaping up to be challenging.
This means, I double down on creating, being, doing, that which brings myself and my loved ones, joy.
I have to nurture myself.
This chosen life, my family, my babies, my gardens, they all put the lustre in life.
They bring me so much love and joy, and I do my best to give it back in spades!
The best therapy I have ever had?
Being active in whatever nurtures my soul.
It is grounding.
It is healing.
It is GOOD.
It is NECESSARY.
Gardening has been a very big part of my recipe for healing my grief and has righted many wonky days.
Sewing, creating, anything that allows me an outlet to express what I am feeling through DOING, has been very cathartic.
When I feel the grief monkey on my back I have to be proactive. Sometimes I involve the whole family, other times, I need my space.
I have 5 children. My house is bustling with activity and it can get loud. If you have children you may need to “schedule” this time with your spouse or partner in order to get the time you need.
Be prepared! If you have kiddos and involve them it may become a tradition each year!
This can be good! Or, it can be not-so-good depending on where you are at in processing your grief. If you have children, you may have to do these activities away from the house to recharge your batteries.
Surround yourself with loving, supportive, people. Remove your company from those who are not. You are worthy and deserving of love and peace. Like a garden, this takes cultivating. Don’t be afraid to weed your friend and family garden by setting healthy boundaries. This is yet another way we must nurture ourselves.
A Nurture List
Plant a memorial tree and/or garden
Build something BIG
Be kind to yourself by practicing a loving inner voice “I look sooo good today”
Give compliments to loved ones, to strangers
Do a silly dance
Have a dance-off with your kids – your friends
Find reasons to Laugh – the best belly laugh
Find reasons to smile
Pottery – handbuild or throw pots on a kickwheel
Photography – take pictures of everyone making funny faces – make your own funny faces- get them printed – frame them hang them
Candlelit bubble bath with lavender oil (favorite essential oil) & favorite music
Paint your nails
Go to the spa
Create your own perfume and/or lotion
Get a manicure, pedicure or massage – or all of it
Take a solitary walk or hike
Go on a run – barefoot
Join a support group
Start a support group
Go to the gym
Go to the gym more
Play an instrument – The harp sounds heavenly no matter what you play or your skill level! (Harpsicle Harps are very affordable,)
Try a new hobby
Journal, Blog, Vlog
Sew, knit, crochet
Draw, Paint, Craft
Take a nap
Take a day trip somewhere new
Go on a country drive
Visit a botanical garden
Visit a museum
Visit an animal sanctuary
Adopt a pet
Whatever you do, it needs to honor your grief and feed your soul.
Make you feel alive. Make you feel loved.
After all, that is what your mama would want for you.
A Nurtured Life.
Hope Edelman Books Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, Letters From Motherless Daughters
“Mother Loss: A List of Suggested Resources”