The Value of Grief

Saturday, February 4, 2017's a word that brings anxiety, fear, sadness, regret and so many more emotions.  A 5 letter word that can take your breath away and cause you more pain than you thought you could ever know in a lifetime.  It is defined as a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.  Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it has also physical, cognitive, behavioral, social and philosophical dimensions.  The word that stands out to me is multifaceted - yes grief has so many layers to it.
Nothing can prepare you for the loss of someone close to you...a child, a parent/grandparent, a spouse, a close friend or sibling.  The value in experiencing grief is it shows how much you loved.  Going through grief is not easy, it's definitely a journey but it does make you stronger and you learn more about yourself.
I always knew I was blessed ~ even from a young age.  I knew my parents were amazing and I was always grateful for them.  Even through my teenage years my friends wanted to hang out at my house - largely due to the fact that my parents were awesome!  I'm the only daughter with 3 older brothers, being the only daughter naturally my mom and I formed a tight, healthy loving bond.  I know it's not like that for everyone and that can cause an entire other range of emotions but for me we had certainly become best friends in adulthood.  My mom was healthy, took care of herself, exercised, kept doctor appointments, ate healthy food I didn't want to touch growing up. #givemeallthefrenchfries I NEVER imagined I would've lost her when I did.  I was lucky enough to have her help me plan my wedding, see my children's birth and have some limited time with my kids.  She was such an amazing grandmother...oh I hope to be like her someday.  I strive to be like her in mothering my children as well.  There are moments people close to me tell me I remind them of her, or say, that's something your mom would've done in regards to my parenting.  My heart swells ~ they have no idea what a compliment that is to me.  
February 4th is World Cancer Day and this month is also Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma) Awareness month.  C-a-n-c-e-r may just be the most hated and fear driven 6 letter word in our world today.   That is the BEAST that took my mom.  It's a rare, brutal cancer - taking most of it's victims within a few months, a few weeks - and in some cases a little more time ~ less than 5 years.  In my case a short 6 months.


What I've learned:  cancer doesn't discriminate,  it can come fast and grief is truly a never ending process.  A very dear friend once told me the pain never really goes away when you lose a loved one, but the 'sting' lightens as time goes by.  I've learned so much in my grief process. 
 For one, I've learned that big milestones are HARD without my mama.  I'll never forget when my teenage daughter had her first behind the wheel lesson to get her drivers license.  I thought I'd go for a run while she was gone for the 2 hours.  I got in my car to drive to my favorite running trail and sobbed.  I couldn't stop crying.  I wanted to call my mom to share the news, I thought about all the milestones my daughter has had while she's been gone it brought up emotions that I wasn't expecting.  When my son received the Student of the Year award at his middle school 8th grade awards banquet for grades, involvement and being an overall good kid I was so thrilled for him and excited...but later that night when no one saw I cried that my mom wasn't there to share in the excitement.
My mom knew me all to well, she was extremely organized and definitely had a type A personality in the sense of organization.  In her hospice binder there was a section that discussed grief counseling.  My dad found it a few days after she passed and showed me that the grief counseling page was dogeared and next to the title was a heart she had drawn with my name written inside.  My dad was like, " um, I think mom's trying to tell you something. " I did end up going through grief counseling for about 9 months.  It did help quite a bit.  Even in her passing she was taking care of me.
I've tried my best to grieve in an emotionally healthy way:  I took up running and have dedicated several races to my  mom, I feel like I can be used by the Lord to encourage people he has brought into my life that are grieving.  Everyone grieves differently and there is no 'right' way.  As a teacher I've been able to teach 5 children since my mom's passing who have either lost a parent or experienced cancer themselves.  I know they were hand picked by God to be in my class and I'm forever grateful that I was chosen to guide them through their difficult times.  My prayer is that I can continue to be an encouragement to others and keep her legacy alive!  Hug your loved ones a bit tighter my friends, you never know how long you have with them. <3 


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