If you're reading this, it's either because you're intrigued or because you're already a member of this crappy little club. I get you and you get me (unfortunately). Today marks my second Mother's Day without her, and in some ways it feels like no time has passed. In other ways, I hardly remember the person I was before. Here are seven things I learned from the death of my mother:
1. I learned that there is no love like a mother’s love.
Unfortunately, I did not learn this until after she passed away. There is a void within me that can never be filled, and I'm coming to terms with that. But I have found ways to experience joy that I didn't have before. I have experienced different kinds of love. I am finding meaning and connection, even in the face of this loss.
2. My sensitivity is heightened.
I have always been a sensitive person, but now more than ever, I feel and love harder. Having experienced something so monumentally tragic, so unalterably life-changing has given me a new depth of tenderness for others—strangers and friends alike—anyone in pain. My experience has amped my empathy for others up to an all-time high.
3. I have finally really, truly learned to love my body.
When you watch someone fight for their life, suddenly your fixation on having a thigh gap or perfectly shaped eyebrows seems so trivial. I watched my mother fight pancreatic cancer for 16 months and, as you can imagine, her body began to shut down. She became extremely frail. Watching that process showed me how incredible having a healthy, functioning body is. I love my body for what it is capable of and the life it lets me have.
4. I have less patience for negativity.
I learned that life is too damn short and unpredictable to give any time or energy to negative people, situations, or thoughts.
5. I pursued a career that makes me happy.
I made a radical shift in my career path, from finance to nutrition. I realized that helping people, making their lives better, was important to me. What was I waiting for?
6. I tell the people around me how much I love and appreciate them, every chance I get.
Some people might think it's excessive, but that doesn't bother me. I know what it is to lose someone you love, and I never want my friends or family to wonder how I felt about them. I want to look back at my life and know I never left kind words unsaid.
7. I know I will be a better mother because of this loss.
My mother lost her own mother at a young age, and I see now that it greatly affected the way she raised us. Although I don't currently have children, I know that when the time comes I will love them harder and appreciate every moment with them even more because I lost my own mom.
Although it has been only two years, I feel like my mother’s death continues to push me to grow as each day passes. I hope reading this has brought you comfort. Be assured that, even in devastating grief, you are not alone. Though it may not feel like it sometimes, there is still great meaning, joy, and most importantly, love to be found in this world. Love fiercely while you can. That's what life is about.