I lost my mom 19 years ago today. She’s been gone longer than I knew her. A common question I get asked from people who find out I lost my mom at 17 is, “Does it get easier as the years go by?” And the answer is no, but also yes, and definitely not, and for sure it does, and not in the slightest, and sometimes.
The answer is, it depends.
Grief is so weird. We don’t handle grief well in our culture, to be honest. I wouldn’t say it’s “taboo,” but I would say that we don’t talk about it enough in a way where it’s not uncomfortable for people. We don’t know how to handle someone who is grieving. I’m by no means a cultural expert when it comes to grief, but in the small experiences I have talking with some of my dear friends from Kenya and a few friends from different parts of Asia, the fact is that those cultures are much more open and honest about grief and grief is shared amongst members of a family and community. There’s no shame or awkwardness with grief. It’s simply a part of life.
I mean think about it… when you find out a friend has lost a family member or a child or parent… we often don’t want to “face” the person that is grieving and we do the easiest thing by just dropping something off and never actually speaking to them. OR, we avoid bringing up the deceased altogether as though the grieving person isn’t thinking about them already.
Now, full disclosure, at points in my grieving journey (especially with losing my sons Elijah and Malachi during pregnancy), I didn’t want to see anyone… but when I DID come out of my hole, I wanted to be able to talk openly and freely.
Grief is messy. It looks different for every person.
When I first lost my mom, I had zero clue how to handle my grief. So I shut down. In fact, that following Monday after she died, I tried to go to school. I pretended like I was totally fine. And I was absolutely not fine. I quickly realized this and ended up going home and staying home for about two weeks, but I still didn’t talk about what was going on. And no one around me really knew how to best support me and encourage me to go to counseling.
For years, I shut down and grieved alone.
And yes, it did get somewhat easier as the years go by, but I would be triggered by the strangest things.
I cannot listen to Taps without crying. I couldn’t walk into my parent’s bathroom in my old house for years. I would be somewhere and see someone on an Amigo scooter and burst into tears.
Then I got married and then I had kids. And I struggled from c-section recovery and wanted to call my mom. I wanted to ask her the most mundane questions about motherhood. I wanted to just hear her laugh and her voice. And I backtracked a WHOLE BUNCH in my grief journey.
And then in 2018 when we lost Elijah and Malachi, I finally went to counseling and it was there that I uncovered years and years of pent up unresolved grief.
So no, grief doesn’t get easier, it just changes and evolves. It never goes away.
And that’s okay. We sit with our grief, acknowledge our grief, and face our grief head on. We don’t need to hide from it, and we shouldn’t hide from other’s grief. Sit in the uncomfortable parts of grief. That’s where change and strength happens.
19 years and I still miss my mom every single day. That will never change.