On the anniversary of my mother's death, and within the frameworks of loss so many have experienced, I share my thoughts:
When my mother died, I was not young but I was lost. I could not understand how she could be gone, such a constant on my horizon for thirty-odd years. It was painful every day, waking and knowing, feeling the absence in the largest and smallest of things: a shadow in the garden, a noise from the kitchen, the fresh earth, so recently turned over, that covered her coffin. At the time, I did what many felt I should do: I carried on. I had a career in the hospitality industry at the time, I had "obligations", and held on to those to pull myself forward, crawling while appearing to walk. In hindsight, several years later, I realized I needed time, and made the assumption that I could not have it, that it would not be allowed to me, that it was not available, that if I did take it I would lose again, another loss, that I would lose what I felt I had worked so hard for. I did not ask. I was functioning but haunted: by the day of my mother's death, by the loss of her physical presence, by the quiet her absence left behind. It was subtle, but it was there. When my father died, five years later almost to the day, I moved, orphaned regardless of age, into the process that would allow me to survive, to grow, to heal.
Regardless of how supported we are through the death of one we love, we can feel so bereft, abandoned, and alone in the great world. We feel vulnerable and condemned. We feel that we cannot navigate, and in so many ways we are not supposed to. There is no formula for healing, so the process is marked by irregularities, marked with the unexpected. There is little control and this leaves us often in the gray of grief. There we feel at the whim of what is random: we sit on a bus and feel assaulted by a familiar fragrance; a jar of preserves on a shelf can create the sharpest and most poignant of memories, a phrase of music can pull us into resonance with the vibrant quality of a life now lost. Alternately we feel nothing and everything, magnified. It is a deeply uncomfortable feeling but one that is so essential to our transition. As painful as it is, every aspect of it brings us closer to a revitalizing, a reconnection with life and our own lifeforce. It is this transition, series of transitions really, that seem to gift us past memory to a new emotional evolution.