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Five Years Ago Today - Grieving and Loving at the Same Time

Three generations. My mother in a hospital bed in her living room, my oldest daughter and myself standing behind the bed. We are all smiling.
In my mothers living room in Sequim, WA on September 1, 2017.

September 1, 2017

Five years ago today we were in the chaotic midst of unexpectedly having to say goodbye to our mother and grandmother over the span of two and a half weeks.

September 1, 2023

Five minutes ago I came across this picture while searching for something else on my computer and was immediately flooded with emotions. Tears mostly, but love and memories too.

I am letting myself have a good cry as I write this and decided to share, in case it might help someone in their grief. Or maybe I just need a reminder that I am not alone. Everyone goes through grief, and it looks different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, so I must embrace it even though it can be painful to do so.

Grieving and Loving

The raw pain in the days and weeks after my mother passed has been replaced with the constant background awareness of the hole in my life, punctuated by times like five minutes ago. And some of the pain has been replaced with deep gratitude for my mother—for what she did for us and how she taught me what unconditional love looks like. We definitely had our differences—show me a mother/daughter relationship that doesn’t—but she never wavered in her love or caring for her family.

Grieving her is going to take a really long time…like the rest of my life, so good thing I realized the need to buckle up. You can’t fight grief. You have to learn to roll with it. It almost always pops up, or floods back into my life when I am least expecting it.

The photo is my mother Anita, my oldest daughter Haylie, and yours truly. I was smiling on the outside but falling apart on the inside while having to help manage her end-of-life care, my family, and my design business. Haylie was leaving for college in a month and her sister Nicole was starting her junior year of high school in a few days. I was pulled in so many different directions, trying to coordinate logistics, dealing with hospices nurses, trading off with my brother Paul to care for her. We would spend 2-3 nights at a time with her so the other could go home and deal with family life. Paul’s life was as busy as mine was. Thankfully, her army of friends provided us with meals, took over her garden, came to sit with her so we could sleep or get out of the house for a bit, and countless other kind deeds. My husband Ken held down the fort at home as I would be so exhausted, and was in such shock, that I spent a lot of time lying on my bed either in tears or a daze. It felt like both the longest and the shortest weeks of my life. She died two weeks after this photo was taken, on September 14.

If you are 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months, or 5 years into grieving someone you loved I see you. Know that you are not alone. If you read this far, thank you. I hope something I said helps you.

I miss you mom.

A grandmother, a daughter and her two daughters in a restaurant.
Three generations in April, 2005.

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