The layers of loss are not always clear when it first happens. My mother's death left deep scars in my world - a nervous breakdown, loss of health and focus and time. I didn't get to heal the wounds between us, and then suddenly one day, she was just gone. I was 25.
One of the trickiest parts was that my peers had no experience with this yet - I only knew one friend who had lost a parent and she was more than a decade older than I was. Everyone agreed that it was sad and they did the best they could. But I felt truly alone. Many people just stopped talking to me.
It had never EVER occurred to me that my mother would die. Certainly not just drop off the face of the earth with a heart attack. I always thought we would have more time to heal the rift between us....but the Universe does not ask our permission sometimes. Maybe even most of the time.
As I got older and began to heal, that loss became the pivotal moment. It made me look really hard at who I am, why I do what do and what kind of life I wanted. Every decision I have made since then has flowed from that moment. I made a ton of mistakes, but also some bold choices. It completely changed who I became.
But here's the ironic twist. The person that I am now, probably would have really been able to support and advise and teach my mother, who was in a great deal of pain, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I might have been able to get her to go to new doctors, to seek out friends, to talk about her past and maybe get a little peace. BUT - I may not have become that person with all that knowledge (still learning, by the way) if I hadn't lost my mother.... So perhaps we were just never meant to share those gifts of healing? I'm not smart enough to know the answer to that one.
This has also brought me a new level of grief, the fact that there is almost no aspect of my life that would have been foreign to my mom in regards to my life. She never got to know that I moved to NYC to pursue acting - never knew I became a devoted Cat Momma and that I would not have children - never knew that I would work in law firms for 15 years - that I traveled to Mexico and Greece on my own - never saw 9/11 - never knew I became a great cook - never knew about my celiac - and endless other things.
But more than that - Mom never met my husband - she doesn't know that I became a Healer and Coach - she can't see my house, our first house, that we bought in 2017 that we are making our own.... so many things are just lost.
Now I know Mom is around in a metaphysical sense - I do feel her, see her, sense her, yes, of course. But there is a difference. I can't directly ask her - so many things - about her youth and career and health and family and.... it is an endless list of unanswered questions that just hang in the air. They just creep up on me sometimes.
But there is one great gift that has grown out of this sorrow. I have worked VERY hard on my grief and my losses. And I am now at the point in my life where my peers are experiencing those losses that I had so long ago - siblings and spouses and parents, and sometimes their own diagnoses. And they call me because they know I have been on this path for over 20 years and I know it well. I can set their expectations in a better place, listen to their fears and reassure them they are not going crazy.
It is also that first experience of Major Loss, in addition to the dozens that have followed, that makes my determination razor sharp on one thing: Live as if it were your last day. Laugh loud, because today is a good day. Heal and Grow and Dance and Give and Celebrate.
I believe in Fearless Grieving - healing is doable, and I want that for all of us. And along side that, I believe in Fearless Living and healing from your grief will make your life better and lighter, clearer and more joyous.
So while I don't get to share that with Mom, I do get to share that with you. And I am endlessly grateful for that. Love you, Mom.