If I can’t have her advice, I don’t want anyone’s

I have a memory that’s been popping up in my head often for the last little while. I am 12 or 13 years old, in that awkward pre-teen phase, when you don’t feel right in your own body and everything either annoys or embarrases you. I am at the mall with my Mom and I am convincing her to buy me a piece of clothing that she doesn’t really like.

“It doesn’t suit you,” she says. “Trust me, I’m your Mom. There is no purer or more honest advice than the one from your Mom. I will always want the very best for you.”

I am annoyed and roll my eyes at her, unable to comprehend at that time the significance of her words.

Well, fast forward about twenty years. She’s gone now, taken too soon at 51 years old. It’s funny how mothers always turn out to be right in the end, in one way or another. Her advice was the best. It was the most honest and pure. Now that I am a mother myself, I get it. 100%. There is nothing I could ever suggest to my daughter that didn’t reflect what I feel to be the very best for her. There is nothing I could tell her that didn’t put her first in its context.

Since my mom’s death almost four years ago, I have a lot of trouble asking for help or advice from others, even those closest to me. I feel like if I can’t have her advice, I don’t want anyone’s. My husband has been my rock throughout so much and he is my best friend. He knows more about the (sometimes scary) inner workings of my brain than anyone else. Except my mother. Men are different, though. They think differently and are wired differently. They are problem-solvers and solution-seekers. They want to fix. Sometimes I don’t want to hear about possible solutions to my problem. I just want the truthful opinion of the listener, even if I don’t like it.

I have a decision to make and I can’t make up my mind. We are going to Europe later this year to visit my family and introduce my baby girl to my grandmas, aunts, and cousins. My husband only has a couple of weeks of vacation time and I don’t know if I should stay a bit longer with the baby. Should I risk a potential nightmare 16 hr. + journey home alone with the baby? Or, should I come home with him and risk not spending enough quality time with everyone? I want to ask my Mom’s opinion so badly right now. Yes, I could ask a friend. Yes, I could ask my mother in law. But it’s not the same. Their advice would be helpful, I am sure. It would be good advice, fair advice, but not advice custom made for me.

I hope in time I get past this feeling of being alone in the world. The truth is, I am not alone. Far from it. But my mother’s absense has changed me. I’ve built such a strong and impermeable wall around myself. I guard my inner strength now more than before. I know where I’ve been.

I didn’t just lose a family member the day my mother died. I lost my foundation.

Advice is a funny thing. You almost always know the answer you want to get when asking advice. Ironically my mother’s advice, the one I didn’t always agree with, is the one I miss so badly now. The other kind, the nice, pleasant advice is available to me now, but I have no desire to hear it.

I miss the honestly that only a mother’s words can provide.

Love & Immortality

Beautifully said. I think it’s so powerful to look at your mother and her life through a woman’s eyes instead of a child’s. I look forward to future posts!

Yet It Will Come

My mother dreamed of climbing Mount St. Helens. She’d never been to Washington State, but once glimpsed the Wasatch Range from a Salt Lake City hotel room.

“They’re capped in snow, like in the movies!” She told me on the phone one morning, before leaving to run in the U.S. Transplant Olympics. Breathy and energetic, her voice sounded like that of a teenager.

At 43, my mother was thriving after an experimental kidney and pancreas transplant saved her life two years prior. Once barely able to walk around the block, she participated in two U.S. Transplant Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah and Columbus, Ohio. Her transplant freed her to dream of all the possibilities restored health could hold.

She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1966, before the widespread use of insulin pumps and blood-glucose meters. Although she once aspired to be a flight attendant and travel the…

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Grief is not a problem that needs a solution

You can’t fix grief. You can’t take it away from someone or erase it from their life story. A griever will always miss their loved one. They will always be devastated. They will always wonder what could have been.

A griever will grieve forever. And that’s okay.

Our society doesn’t understand grief. To most people, it’s a scary and uncomfortable topic. They would rather talk about the weather, about anything else, than talk about grief and loss and sadness. Our society is obsessed with “fixing problems“. The thing is, though, grief is not a problem. It’s a reality and a permanent state.

It’s been almost four years now since my mom passed away. In the first year after her death, I would get constant messages and calls from friends and family checking up on me, asking if I need anything, or offering a distraction or an ear. That’s gone now. I can’t remember the last time I was asked if I am okay in regards to the loss of my mother. I guess people assume I am. And I am, for the most part. I live my life, I am a mother myself now, and I do the best I can without mine.

At first when I stopped getting the “how are you doing’s”, I was hurt and confused. I wondered how those closest to me could assume that as time passes, so does grief. How could they think that while the first Christmas without my mother, I would miss her with such intense pain and rawness, but that the second Christmas, I wouldn’t? It doesn’t work that way. I still needed those “how are you doing’s” on the second Christmas, second Mother’s Day, second birthday. And the third and the fourth.

For those that have never lost anyone, they just don’t understand. They don’t know what to say or what to ask a griever months or years after their loss. Or worse yet, when they do ask or offer some words, they are inappropriate and misguided. They do more harm than good to the griever. Phrases like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “It’s made you stronger” can be dangerous in their insensitivity and emptiness.

Grief is not like in the movies. It doesn’t end after a month or a year or even a decade. What does end is our fragility in our moments of vulnerability and our everyday lives. The uncontrollable crying while sitting in traffic ends. But grief as a whole doesn’t. It’s like an invisible tattoo; it’s a marker of where you’ve been and what you’ve lost.

I recently stumbled upon this very beautiful and honest piece of writing by Tim Lawrence about grief and the insensitivity of others. It really affected me in a profound way because of its rawness and truth. Here’s my favourite passage:

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried. 

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on an increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

Full article: http://www.timjlawrence.com/blog/2015/10/19/everything-doesnt-happen-for-a-reason