Dear Fellow Griever,
I thought that I was prepared for my mom to die…she had fallen and broken her hip, had a stroke after the surgery to repair the fracture, went to rehab and worked her way back to her assisted living facility but was never the same. Her health declined steadily and then she just became too sick to go on. I thought I was ready for her to die.
I was so lucky to have my mother in my life for 70 years. She was always there…loving me unconditionally, celebrating and grieving with me. She adored her grandchildren and taught me how to play that role in my life. Mom died on August 9, 2021. I thought I was prepared for her to die.
My brothers, sister, daughter and I worked together to let Mom die the way she wanted too; surrounded by family, in a quiet peaceful place, free from pain and full of joy. Her brain woke up as the myriad of medications left her body and she was able to have special talks with her family and friends…she was so happy. I thought I was prepared for Mom to die.
I spent all those last days with her, first with her large and loving family and then, at the end, with my brother and sister by my side. Mom had a strong faith and wasn’t afraid to die at the end of her life. She died very quietly while we were out of the room. She died the way she wanted too. I thought I was prepared for my mom to die.
The truth is…I was prepared for my mom to die. I knew that her body was tired and sick and that her spirit was ready to go wherever spirits go. What I wasn’t prepared for was the grief that I experienced when I lost her.
What I think I know now is that no one is prepared for their grief journey…and I do believe it is a journey. The journey looks different for all of us and our individual journeys look and feel different, minute to minute at first, then day to day, then month to month and then year to year. I also believe that this journey was made easier for me because I had the love and support of a community of people who compassionately allowed me to be sad.
When I needed to plan for my mom’s memorial, my community was there.
When I felt like I was trying to breathe under water…my community was there.
When I thought I didn’t want to celebrate my 70th birthday, my community was there.
When I was raging angry with doctors, my community was there.=
When I wanted to talk about Mom and share the same stories over and over again, my community was there.
When I wanted to share my beliefs in ‘signs’, my community was there.
When I scattered some of Mom’s ashes under her tree, my community was there.
When I thought I was okay being alone but I really wasn’t, my community was there.
When I needed an invitation for a meal or a glass of wine, my community was there.
When I needed to attend ceremonies of remembrance, my community was there.
When I needed to cry, my community was there.
Sometimes, my ‘community’ was my kids, sometimes my siblings, sometimes my friends. Sometimes, my ‘community’ was the people at Horan and McConaty and sometimes my ‘community’ was Heartlight. Sometimes my ‘community’ was one person, sometimes it was 50 people. Sometimes, my ‘community’ knew Mom well, sometimes they just knew my love for her. But, without fail, this community was loving, patient and honored me wherever I was in my journey at that time.
This past summer, 30 members of my community came together at sunset on the beach in Grand Haven, Michigan, Mom’s favorite place on earth. We gathered in a circle and shared memories and thoughts and then, my brothers, sister and I put Mom’s ashes back in Lake Michigan while my granddaughters played at the water’s edge. I felt her spirit right there with Sonya and Emma, chasing the waves…and I felt the love of community. For that, I will always be profoundly grateful.
Written by: Emmy Davis