Since my mother passed away nearly 17 years ago, I have become quite a connoisseur of “self-help” methods.
I was, in a very real sense, on my own when my mother died.
Of course I was surrounded by my friends and loved ones, but it was much like being caught inside of a carnival funhouse: I saw their reflections around me, but they could not touch me.
That image describes my grief to a tee.
Out of my close friends, I was the first to lose a parent (I do have another friend who lost his mother before me, but we never spoke about it).
I was also, out of all of my friends, the first daughter to lose her mother.
So, when I say I was “on my own,” I essentially mean that I had to cope with her death in my own ways.
My friends were — and ARE — great. I didn’t always cope the best…especially during the “Year of Firsts”. I made some mistakes. The good news? I know now how much is “too much”.
The thing about a Grief Journey is just that: it’s a journey. I’ve tried a lot of different things to help me along…things I’m going to share now.
Remember: just because they worked for me doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for you.
Also, feel free to tweak as needed to adjust to YOUR particular needs.
WHAT I DID/DO:
⭐️Crying — I cried whenever I felt the need to, be it at home, in my car (I’d pull off into a parking lot), at a friend’s house, out shopping (I’d duck into a fitting room or bathroom), etc. If my body needed to let that emotion go, I let it go. I didn’t care what people thought if they saw me; I’d just lost the most important person in my life, and I was doing what I needed to do to help myself improve.
⭐️Screaming Into A Pillow — By doing this, a LOT of anger came out of me. On the plus side, my screaming was very muffled, so no one thought I was being kidnapped. ????????
⭐️Punching/Hitting A Pillow — I released a lot of anger this way, too (my poor pillows!).
⭐️Journaling — I wrote nearly every day — sometimes twice a day — in my journal. I wrote about my feelings/emotions and what I thought was causing them. I wrote about what was happening in my life — especially the circumstances surrounding me. I found this particular activity to be very releasing and a great help to me; I’d journaled a lot throughout my life. It was extremely beneficial during the start of my Grief Journey.
⭐️Letter Writing — I wrote/typed up letters to my mother. I still have my very first one. Writing to my mom was incredibly cathartic for me. I wrote as if she would be reading them. I burned nearly all of them… “mailing” the ashes, so to speak.
⭐️Book Reading — I didn’t know how to deal with mother loss at the age of 21. No one I knew had gone through it and was offering help. I needed advice; ANY advice. I first bought and made it through most of the book “Motherless Daughters” by Hope Edelman. It wasn’t the easiest book to get through. It did explain a couple of things to me, but mostly it was just wordy.
Other books I’ve read (besides the aforementioned):
➡️ “The Dead Mom’s Club” by Kate Spencer
➡️ “A Mother Loss Workbook” by Diane Hambrook (I’m still working on this in bits and pieces.)
➡️ “What To Do When I’m Gone” by Suzy Hopkins
➡️ “Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died” by Ty Alexander
I plan on continuing to read as many books as possible. I’ve been told many times that I should write one. Maybe. ????
⭐️One-on-One Counseling — I had the opportunity to talk with a therapist weekly for a couple of months after my mother’s death. This really was a TREMENDOUS help, and I cannot possibly explain how much it served me. Unfortunately, I was forced by my father (whose insurance I was under) to quit my therapy sessions because he refused to pay the co-pay of $40 any longer. The times I’d gone, however, were very beneficial.
⭐️Joining A Live Motherless Daughters Group — This was GREAT! It is so wonderful to be surrounded by other women who “get it”! I just spilled my story — feelings and all…about everything — and not one single lady there judged me. I saw women nodding their heads in agreement, I heard a few “yes!” calls; everyone understood, and it felt so good. I HIGHLY recommend joining one of these groups if you’re near to one! Or…
⭐️Starting a Live Motherless Daughters Group — When I moved away from home to where I am now, I wanted to meet new people. Plus, I missed my MD group, so, I jumped onto Meetup, and I created my group. Everyone runs theirs differently, but in our group, we introduced our moms (with pictures), if someone didn’t want to be alone on a hard day (mom’s birthday/day she died), usually someone would always get together with that other daughter…we were very informal, but we did a lot of fun stuff. I’m thinking of starting another one, maybe.
⭐️Talking to Other Ladies Online — Having MD groups on FB has helped me so, SO much. Interacting with other Motherless Daughters who “get it” is hard to explain. I don’t want to say it’s nice to have people who understand, because it sucks being motherless, but it IS nice, you know?
⭐️Mentoring Kids — I have started mentoring students who have lost their mothers. My hope for them is to get them to open up and feel like I’m someone safe for them to talk to. I know that this loss is tremendous. I also know that this loss at 8, 9, 10…is absolutely devastating. I pray that God allows them to feel trust between us so that I can begin to help them.
For right now, nothing else comes to mind. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do/don’t do anything else. The things I have listed are what I did/do most frequently. All of these things have greatly helped me along my grief journey.
I hope that this entry sparked something in your mind for you to try on your own Grief Journey. Maybe it gave you a completely new idea! Whatever the case, try it out and feel free to let me know if it works…or ask questions if you have any.
…One woman’s journey through life missing her teacher, cheerleader, and her best friend: her mother.