Processing the loss of a parent

Processing the loss of a parent

The anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up in the next few months. It will be the 4th anniversary, and I am trying to figure out the best way to prepare for this time of year.

But before we get into how to prepare, I need to share my blue bird story.

I have lived in some variation of our home since 1996. I can still remember my mom bringing the blue bird house as a welcoming gift (for those not in the know with birds, blue birds have very specific houses they like, want them to be facing a certain direction, and a certain height from the ground). My blue bird house sat empty all those years. The week after my mom died, a blue bird family moved into a generic blue bird house in our back yard. It still gives me chills when I think about it. That summer I watched those birds, talked to them (to the horror of my children), and watched each brood fledge.

At the end of the summer, as my daughter and I watched the last brood leave, I suggested that we let our sadness about Nana’s death fledge with those birds. If only it were that easy, right?

So over the years I have tried to process my grief about the loss of my mother. Some years have been better than others, but I have learned that grief does not go away, instead just looks different from time to time.

Last year I tried to be proactive and planned a family trip to one of my favorite lakes. But even though lakes are my happy place, I was still sad. And my poor family spent the weekend trying to make me not sad, which is like telling someone who is anxious not to worry.

So this year I am thinking of taking a solo trip (well, maybe I will take my buddy Smooch with me). If I want to be sad, I can be sad. And no one else has to be uncomfortable. I am also going to be prepared for the grief. Some times it comes out as being angry/snippy with my family, some times I want to talk about it, some times I don’t.

I so wish for a magic number of years that will pass and the grief will be gone. I do think I am getting better about remembering the good times from her life, even though there were very few. And I hope with all of my heart, she is somewhere, happy and healthy and watching over our family. Just like my blue birds do every summer.

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