I recall after she passed, I went through the stages of
grief. I tried to deny that I was going through them just because I wanted to
believe I was stronger than those stages. Just because I was angry and wanted
to be defiant against anything and everything. I will say I didn't go through them in any particular order. They would hop, skip and jump around. I would be
in one stage for a few days then on to another stage maybe for longer. Then I
would go to a different or maybe back to a stage I had already been through. I remember the bargaining with God stage. I would have those
moments alone when her memory would really grab a hold of all my thoughts. I
would first try and be really nice and polite when asking God to give her back.
I felt as though I had pretty good logic when I would discuss my proposal with
him to give her back. I explained that He had more than enough people, she was
just one person, one very important person. If I could just have her back, He
would never even n…
Dear Friends, I have so much I wish I could tell you. I need you to know
that I am different since my mom passed away. I am a different friend, mother,
wife and sister. In some ways the grief and loss has changed me for the better.
I won’t be the same person you remembered or shared memories with. Our
friendship might require you to carry it through 100% at times. Our friendship
might now require more effort, just know that I would do the same for you. I need you to remind me that I am never a burden when I want
to talk to you about the hard days. The days when the tears won’t stop flowing.
The days when I cancel plans with you last minute because I had a trigger and
my day is consumed with thoughts of her. The days when I just want to share
stories about her. The days when I just want to cry with you on the phone.
Remind me you are there. I need you to tell me my mom is proud of me. If you have
your mom, you might take that for granted. After losing my mom, I want to make
her more pro…
Dear Cancer, You don’t know me but we have met. I was introduced to you
by my mother almost seven years ago. I won’t bother telling you her name
because I know you do not care. I won’t tell you about what she left behind or
who she left behind. I won’t tell you how young she was or that her and I made
plans that will never happen. I won’t tell you that in her final years you
filled them with sickness, pain and grief. You see, I know you don’t care. It
makes no difference to you that she was a mother, daughter, sister, aunt,
best-friend and grandmother. I want to remind you that she beat you once. You tried to
defeat her with lung cancer but she fought back, hard. You knew it would have
to be something big next so you came back with terminal brain cancer. She still
fought you, she still laughed, smiled and never surrendered. She always made
you give it your all, she refused to go without a fight. I am writing you this letter because I want you to know that
just because you were able to …
Dear Mom, I miss you, but you already know that. It has been one of
those bad days, the ones where my only memories go straight to the bad ones.
Where I want to pick up the phone to call you and have you reassure me that
everything will be alright like only you could do. I need your hug. The final
days you were given, all the time you were sick and reliving the day I received
the call you were gone. That’s where my mind is today. On these days I wonder
what your last thoughts were, did you know it was the end? Did you know how
much I loved you? Did you worry that you would leave me unprepared for the
future? Were you scared? Were you pain? I think that’s been the hardest thing
about this grief for me, all the unanswered questions. This is the first time in
my life I have had to figure out how to cope without you helping me along the
way. I met a new friend. I know you planned it, she’s just like
me. I bet you and her mom are weeping tears of joy that our paths finally
crossed. You see,…
It’s been 1238 days, 1 hour, 17 minutes and 20 seconds since
the last time I saw her. I don’t normally count down the days, hours, minutes
and seconds since the last time I saw someone, this is different. Those times
represent the last time I hugged her, heard her voice, saw her face and heard
her say “I love you.” It’s the last time I was able to dial her number and hear
her answer on the other end instead of a voicemail. I realize that every single day only brings that number
higher. It takes me further and further away from the last time I was able to
talk about my mother in the present tense. Seeing those numbers is a difficult
thing in this grief process, it makes it all so real. I never realized how
powerful numbers could be. I wish I could take all those numbers back to zero.
Back to when a time never existed where she would be just a memory. Not all of those days, hours, minutes and seconds were
filled with pain, hurt or tears. Some were filled with moments of complete joy
Most days I struggle with the fact that not only did I lose
my mother when I was only twenty-five but I struggle with understanding that I
am still her daughter. It’s easy to know that you are someone’s daughter when
they are still with you. Spending time together, making new memories, sharing
life’s milestones together. That’s how I envisioned my life with my mother for
the rest of our lives. Life looks different now. In the beginning of my grief I began to wonder if I even
still counted as a daughter because I was now motherless. Could I even consider
that as my title any longer? I really do not get to share all the experiences
my friends share with their mothers at my age so I didn't feel as though I was
allowed to have that title any more. I am still her daughter.
I am out of the fog and know that no matter what, I am and
always will be her daughter. That will never change. She wouldn't want it to be
any other way, plain and simple. I do count even though I don’t have new
I have these days where a smile seems heavy. These days
where I have to actually force the smile and it’s exhausting. Those days are
few and far between at this point in my grief but they still exist. Something
will trigger me out of the blue and my memories and thoughts go straight to the
bad ones. You know the ones. The final days with her, wondering how she spent
her final moments, was she scared, what was her last thought before she left
me, did she in fact know how much I loved her, was she at peace with leaving,
did she wish she could have told me just one more thing? Before the weight of the simple smile was too much to carry
and wear. Instead I would choose not to smile at all, even though I still had
so much to smile about. I kept thinking of the one thing that caused my smile
to not be as bright, that caused my smile to be so heavy. Now, almost four years later I am happy to tell you I am now
stronger. The weight of that smile is not so much to lift. I now smile freely
My life revolves around finding different routes to get to
simple places. Sure, I could get to the grocery store in five minutes. That
would mean driving past the last store her and I shopped in for my birthday. I
could get to my hair dresser in under an hour but that would mean driving past
her old house. I am sure my best friend would love it if I could drive back
home to visit her. I can’t I just can’t I can’t go to her old house, I can’t go to the stores we
would frequent, I can’t go back home to where she raised me and died. I can’t
go there and see the hospital where she spent her final days. I can’t go inside
my grandmother’s house. I can’t bring myself to go to these places. They are not just places. They are memories some of the best
and worst of my entire life. I don’t want to see the room she laid in during
her final hours. I don’t want to drive past the funeral home where a stranger
saw her last. I can’t I just can’t Maybe one day I will be ready to go to those places. Maybe
Grief is not for the faint of heart. It’s not something you
can just drop or forget about and go on with your “normal” life. There are good
days and bad days. There are good weeks and bad weeks. There are good minutes
and bad minutes. Yet, through them all I choose to take a step forward and face
them head on. You can’t sugar coat this grief process, nothing about it is
pretty or nice. It’s hard, messy, ugly and a mixture of a thousand other
emotions. You somehow find that you learn to live with this grief and
learn how to keep your loved one with you. At some point in the fog of the
grief, you begin to see clearly. You find that you can still move forward
without leaving them behind.
One day you look back and realize just how far you have
come. You see that all those steps, every hard step, has lead you to where you
are today. Even though where you are today is without them physically, it’s not
without them completely.
That’s what it’s like right? The minute most find out we've
suffered a great loss. The day we have that great loss. Even when they hear
from others we are broken, they begin to avoid us. That’s when it happens. We
feel like we are burden that everyone liked the person we were before the grief
set in. So we hide it, don’t talk about it and become ashamed of it. We suffer
silently. We decide we no longer want to share our stories of loss or
the stories of our loves ones. As if somehow everyone will judge us. Maybe they
will say we are not a good friend, not a good mother or wife because we carry
around our grief. All of that is a lie. My grief does not define me as a person on the bad days, it
defines me as the new person that I have become on the good days. The new me is
a much better friend, mother and wife. Because of my great loss and grief I
have learned that bridges should never be burned with the thought they can be
rebuilt one day. That one day may never come.
I didn’t want to pray for her to be my friend. I never
wanted to need her as a friend. I never wanted to know there was in fact
someone out there just like me. Someone with the same hurt, the same invisible
scars on the inside. Someone that hides her tears with a smile. At the same
time lets them flow while telling her story. Someone that can say “I feel the
same exact way” when I tell my story. You see, I never wanted anyone to carry this same grief.
Hide this same anger, hurt, sadness, confusion and regrets. I never wanted
another person to understand that holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and
especially mother’s day were days I wish I could skip over. Yet, at the same
time it was everything I longed for. I needed a friend that was compassionate
enough to offer to help me when my children were sick and I needed a break, a
friend that reminds me how proud my mom would be, and a friend that knows just
what to say just like my mom would have. Friends that have not experienced the
Today I was thinking about the new me. The new me that I was
forced to become after losing my mom and being thrown into this grief. It’s not
like grief is something they teach you in school or prepare you for in life like
they do other subjects. It’s not something any parent can really sit down and
have a talk with you about before they send you out into the world.
I want a map.
A navigation system.
A route to bypass this grief.
Greif has been the first thing I have had to venture into
blindly without my mom. I always had her there for support, guidance and a
moral compass. Now here I am in unchartered territory making up the rules as I
go along. Second guessing every single turn I make in this messy journey. That’s
when I began thinking how much I have changed from this journey.
I am a new me.
I never thought I would say that grief has changed me for
the better. Honestly, I would rather not have changed. I would rather be the
same person I was before the grief because that would …
To those that move in next to this house they will never know that some of my best and worst moments reside here. They will never know that this house is not just any house, it was her home. Filled with the only memories I have left of her. You see that living room, there was a nice couch that took up much of the space. On that very couch, in that very living room is the place she told me she had terminal cancer. That very living room is where my world came to a complete stop.
You see that room in the back, that was her room. In that very room was a bed she would lay in sick from treatment. In the corner of that room was a chair that I would sit in many nights, watching closely making sure she was still with me.
That bathroom is where I would hold her had on the floor when she was sick and weak. The second bedroom is where I would help her email friends that were out of state to tell them the news that she was terminal.
That back porch is filled with the best memories, all the good o…
I will never forget the day our four year old son asked me “Where is your mommy?” It wasn’t a question I was prepared for. I had barely dealt with my own grief, much less thought ahead enough to explain to our son why he doesn’t have two grandmas like everyone else. I remember feeling a rush of overwhelming emotions. I said “Nana is in Heaven with Jesus.” He paused for a moment and with childlike innocence quickly replied, “Well, let’s just go visit her.” If only there was a way to go visit her in Heaven, things would be so much easier. I sat him down and pulled out pictures of her, books she had sent him when I was pregnant and shared how much she loved him even though they never met. This year like every year we planned to celebrate her birthday by sharing memories and looking at old pictures. This year was different, this year was more special. Our son asked if he could let balloons go home to Nana. As he let the string slip through his tiny fingers, he began to sing “Happy Birthday…
Most everyone that comes in our home is unaware of all the things I keep. In our back room that is now consumed with toys there is a large blue storage container. It is an unspoken understanding between my husband and I that this container stays there and is never to be tossed out. In the garage, on a shelf near our washer and dryer is a red, black and white striped prayer monkey sock. In our bedroom on a nightstand you would see a picture frame with a picture inside that almost seems out of place. The picture is of myself when I was younger and two friends from a birthday. Hidden in the corner of our closet in our bedroom you would find a purse. Inside this purse is a pair of glasses, a cell phone, head scarf, “cancer sucks” pins and watch stopped at the exact moment my world froze. In our bathroom you would see jewelry hanging on the back door. Necklaces, bracelets and rings all mixed in with my jewelry. To the naked eye, most of these things would go unnoticed, unseen and unimport…
In the beginning of my grief I would cringe when someone would say “You are being so brave.” I wasn’t being brave, I was putting on a face through my work day. I was putting on a face to my family and closest friends so I would not be a burden. Half of them did not even know or understand the internal warfare that was going on inside me, which still goes on inside me. They saw the smile, heard the laugh and saw me show up for family functions. To those that had not experienced the loss I had, they assumed I was being brave, that things were going back to normal. When in fact I was still just as broken on the inside as the day I lost her. I am three years into the loss of my mother. It dawned on me a few days ago that in fact they were right, I was being brave. I still am being brave. Being brave doesn’t mean you don’t cry over your loss. Being brave doesn’t mean you don’t miss them daily, long for their hug and want to give anything to hear their voice. Being brave doesn’t mean you don…
To most Thanksgiving is a wonderful day, filled with family, food, joy and memories. The memory part is the problem for me. Thanksgiving was our favorite holiday together. The last Thanksgiving I had with her we were at my grandfather’s house. We took lots of pictures in fear it would be her very last Thanksgiving spent with her, we were right. I have my own family now but no matter what there is still an empty space, the space she filled. Most will never understand when my emotions become a complete roller coaster around the holidays. One minute I want to go to our extended families house. The next minute I am completely against it and just want to stay home with our little family. Most people will find it selfish if I decide not to go to their house for the holidays. They will find it disrespectful and highly offensive. I want them to know that’s not how I mean for it to be. I wish they could understand the tug of war that goes on inside of me when the holidays are drawing near. The …
As a young girl and even teenager I envisioned all the big events in my future with my mother by my side. From college graduation, engagement, wedding, birth of my first child and all those small everyday things in between. I could not wait until the day we could grow older together, when I could get to know her as another adult and my best friend not just my mom. Most of those big events and small events would come and go without her in them. I have been reminded every day from the minute she passed that she is not with me to celebrate the victories and overcome the setbacks right by my side. The day she left I not only lost my mom, I lost my best friend, my biggest fan, support and the one who knew me better than anyone else. Life is challenging enough losing your mom at a young age and becoming a motherless daughter. Then to become a motherless mother it becomes an entirely new challenge. I recall the day my first son was born. In the chaos of the day I recall thinking “I wonder when…
Even though most of my grief journey was a fog at the beginning, I will always remember the friends that were there for me, the friends that were not there for me and the friends that continue to walk this journey with me. I remember a phone call to a close friend the day my mom passed. I cried for a few minutes and then she quickly informed me she was on a family vacation and would need to call me when she returned. That phone call would never come nor would a mention of my grave loss. Then there was the close friend that sent me text messages a month after my loss telling me what a “selfish person” I was. Informing me that I “always backed out and cancelled plans.” Even months later reminding me that she could “not trust because of all the times I cancelled.” I will never forget that hurt. I suddenly went from grieving the loss of my mother to grieving the loss of friendships.
My grief began when my mom became terminal, it changed me and my priorities. I focused on helping my mom …
On my grief journey I ran into well-meaning friends and family that would use what I like to call “grief profanity.” It is the comments and phrases that would send me into a hysterical crying mess or fill me with anger. Some were so bad, my mouth would drop and I would be in complete shock. Almost as if they had just used some of the foulest language I had ever heard. During my grief I was unable to express how it made me feel, much less process what had just been said. Now that I am out of the fog, I have a created a list of things I wish I would have been able to tell them not to say and better ways to phrase questions. I will get the soap and we can wash this grief profanity out of their mouths together. Do not say “Sorry for your loss.” You might say it out of fear of saying her name. I want you to say “I am sorry for the loss of your mom” in my case or “I am sorry for the loss of Terri.” She was a person, I did not lose my bike or a material thing, she was my mom and she had a nam…
I never really understood my grief until I came out of the fog after losing my mom. People would say the wrong things at the wrong times and friends would abandon me because it was too much to deal with. I read so many articles, books or really anything I could get my hands on to help me with my grief. That’s when I realized not a single book could sum it up, it is different for everyone. I have compiled a list of things I have learned about my own personal grief. 1.) Grief changes you as a person 2.) Grief can make you realize how strong you really are. 3.) Grief shows you who your real friends are. 4.) Grief shows you who is not your friend 5.) Grief comes and goes like waves 6.) Grief can break you or inspire you to keep your loved one’s memory alive. 7.) Grief makes you see the world differently. 8.) Grief does not have a time frame. 9.) Grief can start before your loved one passes. For me it began the day my mom became terminal. 10.) Grief is different for every …
Cancer is such a funny word. A word that brings so much fear, yet such a widely known disease. It is a disease that does not care about your age, if you have small children, if you have yet to walk your daughter down the aisle or how much money you have in the bank. I never realized this word would ever be a part of my vocabulary, much less a part of my life. July 21st, 2011 is the day my world froze, the day it forever stood still. I recall very vividly the sounds all around me in my office as I stood at my desk. I recall the smells, the very detail of the doctor’s voice over the phone saying "Mrs. Pennington, she never arrived we lost her on the way here.” My legs felt like jello, wanting to give out underneath me. It took everything in me to get the words out of my mouth, “I don’t understand what you mean? She was on the helicopter, how could you have lost her?” Not thinking logically, deep down I knew he meant she had passed away. I dropped the phone and in the midd…
I am not sure where you are on this grief journey. Maybe you just started, maybe you've been on this road for years and are still wandering. Maybe you are just like me and you are just looking for some hope at this end of this grief. I want you to find hope on that journey right here in this blog. Our stories are not the same, our lives are completely different and how our grief began is no comparison. None of that really matters though because as grievers, we are one in the same.
I can't be sure what brought you to my blog. Maybe you were searching desperately like I was several years ago on the internet. Searching for just one person that could relate in some small way to my story. Someone to say how bad this whole grief thing stinks, how messy it really is. All I found were books or articles from doctors or therapists, I needed someone like me. So here I am!
I have been living in grief for three and a half years now. I will share my story with you in the next blog post. I d…