20 Years of Grief

Sometimes it feels like yesterday, other times, a lifetime ago; February 24th, 2018 marks 20 years since my mom died.


Grief is a funny beast. Sometimes it's predictable, like in February. I've come to learn that each year grief is going to make itself known very prominently in February. It's cold, grey, and bleak, and so often I feel overcome with sadness that I can't entirely explain. Everyday challenges feel like a heavy weight I can't bear, and some days I struggle to just get out of bed. I've come to learn that self care is key, and do my best to be gentle, while surrounding myself with people who can be gentle for me when I've lost my way.

The February grief I'm familiar with - it's the sneaky grief that catches me by surprise. The times when I catch a glimpse of a mother and daughter doing something lovely together. The ordinary thoughts of the things she will never be a part of. The photo that falls out of a book to reveal an image of a person who I long to be near. The realization that I can't easily recall the sound of her voice. Twenty years will do that to a person.

This week I was talking to a friend whose mom died a year ago. She said that she's at a point now where her mom feels further and further away with each day that passes. I know that feeling well. I've passed through more than 7,000 days without my mom, and now she feels like a distant whisper of the person I used to know.

Last year I mentioned that this 20th anniversary scared me. 20 years somehow felt more significant. Now that I'm here, it still does, even though I know it's just another anniversary. I re-read this quote earlier this week, and it still resonates so deeply:

"As far as I can see, grief will never truly end. It may become softer over time, more gentle, and some days will feel sharp. But grief will last as long as love does -- forever. It's simply the way the absence of your loved one manifests in your heart. A deep longing, accompanied by the deepest love. Some days, the heavy fog may return, and the next day, it may recede, once again. It's all an ebb and flow, a constant dance of sorrow and joy, pain and sweet love." - Scribbles & Crumbs

Twenty years ago I experienced one of the worst days of my life. I've spent the years that have followed grieving, recovering, exploring, learning, growing and changing. I know that losing my mom at 13 has played a huge role in shaping me as a person - but I can't diminish the impact of everything else that has followed. Grief has left me forever changed, as I miss the person who gave me life, and I know that I will never be the same.