By: Julie Thompson
It’s been 10 years since I’ve heard her voice. A voice that consistently spoke words of love and encouragement into my life. A voice that I didn’t realize how much I would miss until I couldn’t hear it anymore. 10 years later, I’m still learning how to navigate this world without my mom’s voice.
I never expected to become a motherless daughter at the age of 26. During my mom’s 9 year battle with breast cancer, I prayed every day that God would heal her. My family and I were by her side as she underwent various surgeries and multiple rounds of chemo and radiation. Unfortunately, cancer continued to spread throughout her body.
A few days before she passed away, I realized that God was going to heal my mom, but her healing would take place in heaven. That was hard to accept. Selfishly, I wanted more time with my mom, but it was heartbreaking to see her in so much pain. On March 23, 2009, my mom’s suffering ended when she met Jesus. My prayers for healing had finally been answered, but I knew my world would never be the same again. I felt incomplete without my mom.
In some ways, it seems like it has been a long time since my mom passed away, as I’ve had 10 years of new memories that I haven’t been able to share with her. 10 years of pictures that she’s not in. I’ve also realized that most of the people currently in my life never had the opportunity to meet my mom. Thinking about that makes me realize how much time has truly passed.
But sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. I can still remember specific details about the final few days of her life, and anytime I go to a visitation or funeral, memories of my mom’s arrangements come flooding back to my mind.
Every day I live with a longing for my mom. Every day I think about her. Every day I still grieve her loss, and I’ve learned that’s okay.
Here are 3 other things I’ve learned about grief:
Grief is unpredictable.
- Grief does not follow a timeline. For me, it often comes in waves. One moment I may be fine, but the next moment a memory will come to mind that may cause me to miss my mom. A few minutes later, I may be laughing and smiling again.
- If you’re grieving, it’s okay for you to smile, laugh, and do things that bring you joy. You can still experience moments of happiness while you’re grieving.
Everybody grieves differently.
- Don’t assume someone isn’t grieving just because they don’t look or act a certain way.
Acknowledge someone’s loss.
- This is one of the most powerful things you can do. I love when people share with me memories that they have of my mom or old pictures. Most of my current friends never had the chance to meet my mom, but if they ask me questions about her, I’m always happy to talk about her.
- If someone you know is grieving, don’t be afraid to mention their loved one’s name. If you have a favorite memory or picture, share it with them. Taking a few minutes to write down a memory in a card or in e-mail/text can be so meaningful. Even if you didn’t know their loved one, asking questions about them shows that you care and are supportive.
- When someone initially experiences a loss, it’s common for people to immediately send cards, gift cards, bring over meals, and offer to help with whatever is needed. All of these things are wonderful and needed, but continue to check in and offer help/support months/years later. Your world will probably go back to “normal” after a few weeks, but for someone who is grieving, they are learning how to live in a “new normal.” Adjusting to life without a loved one is difficult and takes time.
- On holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries of a loved one’s passing, check in on your friends/family members. A simple, “How are you doing today?” or “I’ve been thinking about you today” can be so comforting. Setting a reminder on your phone is a great way to help you remember important dates. Instead of saying nothing, say something.
10 years later, and I still miss my mom’s voice, but God has given me other voices to help me navigate life after loss. Besides my family, He has surrounded me with amazing friends, co-workers, other motherless daughters, and an incredible church family.
And even though I can no longer hear my mom’s voice, I can still hear the voice of my Heavenly Father. He speaks to me through the pages of scripture, prayer, through others, and music. Just like my mom, His voice speaks words of love and encouragement over me. And it brings me peace knowing that my mom hears His voice every day too.
This blog originally appeared at: www.pagesofloveblog.com .