Year One In Heaven

By: Danielle Ilacqua (Guest Blogger)

Last year at 1:17 a.m., instead of surfing social media, I sat in a hospital watching my only parent prepare to go to heaven. It’s been a year since my mom’s passing. The waves of grief this past year were amazingly difficult because you have to “relearn” to live – live without the physical presence of the person, that is. You survive the holidays for the first time, her birthday, your birthday, and even first special moments when you actually allow yourself to enjoy life. Then you are reminded that you can’t call her and share your victories.

I never thought it was possible to feel so much pain. The gambit of emotions this past year has been tremendous. Almost like a roller coaster that I could not get off. The pain ranged from a spectrum of not feeling anything and being completely numb, empty and void, to feeling like I couldn’t breathe and my heart was going to explode – like when you sprint for the bus 20 feet away as fast as you can and then can’t catch your breath.  Or like when you swallow water down the wrong pipe and then for a second lose air and have a pain that runs down your throat and into your chest.  Almost like a heart-attack.

I know deep in my heart there is no one that loves you more than God, and for me at least, my mom was next in line. I knew love. And I knew she loved me. Sounds ridiculous, but we live in a society where people don’t always know they are loved or even grow up in a loving home. I’m thankful for her love. She was my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, and in the end, I can say, without equivocation, she was my friend.

Mom was the epitome of strength and survived in a time period where divorce was frowned upon and being a single parent was doubly frowned upon. But she was faithful, strong, and had resilience like I’ve never seen. She was not like generation cupcake, where everyone needs a safe space and can’t handle much. That wasn’t my mom’s generation, and I’ve never met a stronger person in my life.

The first couple months after her passing I was heaven obsessed – because that makes sense – right? I wanted to know where she was and what it was like and all the things that, quite frankly, even with extensive studying of the Bible, do not give us complete answers until it’s our turn.  But focusing on where my mom was helped calmed me. In fact, it gave me some peace.

Philippians 4:7 says, “The peace of the Lord surpasses all understanding.”  I prayed and prayed, begging God for a dream.  I wanted to see my mom in heaven. I wanted to dream about her. But nothing. I prayed God would fill the void I had in my heart and in my life.  To fill me with joy that surpassed all understanding because I felt very despondent.

So now as a year comes to pass – what do I have?

I have a tremendous amount of fear that I will forget her. That I will forget her voice, her smile, her hands, the taste of her cooking, the sound of her laugh, and the smell of her perfume … things that photos don’t truly capture.  I have cards that my mom sent me that I rifle through, as not to forget her handwriting. It’s all insane. But after 365 days of this, I realized today that the most important thing for me to remember and know for certain is that I have her heart.

I see her every day when I look in the mirror. I feel her every time I’m kind to someone else. I hear her when I speak encouragement into someone’s life. Because that’s who my mom was.  She was strong, faithful, loyal, and trustworthy. She was brave. She was an encourager. She was a fighter. She was a hard worker, a devoted mom, a loving aunt and great aunt, an empathetic friend, amazing cook, strong woman, loved animals and children, could fix anything and sew everything, she cried at commercials and laughed at knock-knock jokes – and she had a servant’s heart.

So when the ugly thought of fear starts to creep into my mind, I cling tight to this verse, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). That was my mom.

Every ounce of her being was to help someone else. Whether you wanted her help or not, you got it. Because she was reliable. She was dependable. She loved hard and showed it. I can only wish to become half the woman my mother was and be as strong, brave, and intelligent as she. So when I think I’m forgetting her, I look to Jesus. And I’m reminded of her heart and love, which was the greatest thing she could leave me.

God bless mom! I hope year 2 in heaven is even more amazing than the first! See you soon!

10 replies on “Year One In Heaven”

I just lost my mother March 3 and although it’s been not quite 2 weeks I am experiencing Everythng you mentioned and even Heaven obsessed. As a Christian I know what I’ve been taught but when my mother took her last breath everything went out the window and have been struggling terribly. Thank you for sharing your struggles

Hi Melanie

Thank you for your comment. I’m very sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. It’s something that no matter how much we think we are prepared for, we simply aren’t until we go through it. The word says that God is close to the broken hearted and close to those who mourn. “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4. Grief is a daily process and I want to remind you to be patient with yourself and extend yourself some grace. This journey is a day by day thing. In the beginning we are in such pain that we may even forget the truths we know as Christians. Paul wrote in 1Thessalonians 4:13 “that we do not grieve like others who do not have hope” – but remember we are human and grief is hard. One day and sometimes one second at a time. I found writing the blogs helped me release. There are many other blogs on the website. If you need to talk or prayer this is an amazing g group of women who have helped me tremendously. May God continue to comfort you while you grieve.


I lost my mom in July 2016, and reading your blog was like reading my thoughts. I went through the exact same things – Heaven obsessed, praying for a dream so I could see her one last time, and even getting scared that I would forget her laugh, her voice, etc. Thanks for sharing your experience.


I believe your blog will comfort so many women who read it. They will know they are not alone on this journey. You speak such truth about remembering, fear, love, and prayers. Thank you for sharing with others.

Penny- Thank you for your comment and I’m so thankful to God that this blog may help others during their grief journey.

As I was reading your blog, I had to scroll up numerous times to check the writer’s name…why? Because, no joke, I thought I wrote this…word for word….word for word your experience matched mine. It is only two months since the end of Year One of my Mother’s passing – my only parent who truly was a servant of the Lord. Thank you so much for writing this! I have no more words….only tears….of sorrow overshadowed by joy!

Hi Chloe- Thank you for your comment and I’m so thankful to God that this blog may help others during their grief journey.

We seem to have had the same breed of mother. The only difference I saw was that your mum sewed. My beautiful mama was hopeless at sewing . She couldn’t teach me to sew and she didn’t teach me how to live without her . I’ve had to learn that since she took her last breath in July 3 2016.
It’s like being a new born child , being in the world without the one person I knew truly loved me no matter what . I’ve wailed and sobbed and have had to comfort myself – only Jesus could hold me in my darkest hours .
Thank you for your beautifully crafted words .
Your orphaned sister in Christ – Anna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *