Overcoming Grief After Losing a Parent

     Yesterday I glanced in the mirror and I saw my mother's beautiful face staring back at me. The same round face, deep dimples, almond shaped eyes and scattered moles are all physical traits I inherited from her. Growing up, I never thought I looked much like her. When I graduated from high school, I began wearing contacts and a hair style similar to hers and everyone would tell me how much I looked just like a mini Rose. I always denied it and laughed it off, not realizing how true is was. Later that year, a few days before Christmas, my mother passed away from cancer.


Overcoming Grief After Losing a Parent

     Every time I would visit my maternal grandmother, she would stare long and hard at me with such sad eyes. Sometimes she even called me by my mother's childhood nickname, "Mander", when asking me to do something. My Dad, aunts, cousins and all had that same somber look in their eyes when I was around. I thought that my presence brought them so much sadness and grief, that over the next few years, I rarely visited my family, but I often called. I did a lot to try and mask how heartbroken I was over her death, but the most bizarre thing I did was my refusal to look in a mirror. Of course when getting dressed, styling my hair, and brushing my teeth I had to look in a mirror, but I didn't truly look at myself.

     Fast-forward to December 2006, I was truly depressed. My relationship had ended, I had basically cut my family off, I'd gained about 45 lbs and I had stopped going to church. I was angry, bitter, and tired. I had turned my back on God and often questioned him and my purpose in life. Well one night, I had it! I was going to face this demon I was battling and look in the mirror. I was going to gaze deep into my dark brown eyes and see who was really staring back at me. And then I saw her, my mother. I was shocked! Seeing her stare back at me was strange, but also soothing. I could no longer deny it. I lost it and cried myself to sleep that night.

     The next morning, I did something that was out of the norm. I looked in the mirror and really smiled! I saw my mom and it brought me so much comfort. All of this time my mother had been with me. Instead of looking down, I should have been looking up. I realized that my family wanted needed my presence and my resemblance of her gave them so much joy.

     I still really miss my mother and think of her daily, but I've finally accepted her death. Over time I have learned how to cope and give myself grace during unexpected moments of sorrow. When I look in the mirror and smile, I know that she lives on in me. God has given me so much peace and the will to keep moving forward. I finally learned that it was okay to be happy and truly live again. Losing my mother changed me, and taught me many hard lessons, but I no longer let it define me.

My mother and I in 1988.
My Mother and me in 1988

Have you experienced the loss of a parent? How did you cope with your grief?


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