I lost my mom in October 2010 to Ovarian Cancer and at the time I knew life without her was going to be hard but nothing could have prepared me for the journey it has been. Of course I found my smile back and laughing started to get easier but there isn’t a day that I don’t feel a little lost without her reassuring smile, words and presence.
And this is truly evident now that I have children of my own. I consider myself a new mom. My son is three, my daughter is two and we will welcome Baby #3 in February. Life is busy and I find myself wondering what life would look like if she were here. Would the anxiety that I experience still occur? Would I second guess my decisions or choose a different path because she’d have advice? I’m sure some of that would occur but I’ve tried to cope with all of that by emulating the incredible mother she was and continues to be.
During my grief and especially during my pregnancy I challenged myself to carry on my mom’s spirit. For 90% of the people at my mom’s visitation and funeral, their next day was normal. For a child or spouse, it’s different. And becoming a mom, without the one person whose experiences I value most, was very hard. I struggled with allowing good or fun to happen because I hated that she was missing out. That self-destruction wasn’t something I wanted to bring children around. And while it never got severe it wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t how my mom wanted to see me.
Every week I try to incorporate something that reminds me of her and allows me to share her with them. For Hayden-Keith’s baptism I wrote a children’s book of my mom’s life, from her childhood to death. It has definitely helped me talk about her to my kids in a way that they can understand and visualize. Hayden-Keith recognizes the names of his Grandpa and aunts throughout the story and thinks it’s pretty neat he knows the characters. We also try to visit a park and look for bald eagles, go on a family walk and talk about Angel Grandma Kristi or get ice cream and I’ll find a way to bring her up.
This has helped me cope with the idea that she isn’t forgotten. Any time someone so present in your life passes the loss is different for everyone but it truly can throw off everything. Every day is hard and there will always be new things that bring up the anxiety I experience of her early and unexpected death but the way my heart feels when Hayden-Keith and Leah-Kristi get excited to see a Bald Eagle (my mom’s favorite bird) or how proud they are when we bake one of her recipes just makes those hard days a little brighter.
If you’re already in your grief I recommend finding ways to incorporate your loved one into your every day or every other day. Find comfort in knowing that the things they loved to do can be done by you, in their memory and honor.
You can find Jessica on her blog: www.simplylovingyou.com