The Gravity of My Grief


My mother-in-law of 22 years died last Saturday at 96, as we, her girls, sat vigil.

Her breathing sounds had changed, “wet breathing” they called it. I thought if we could move her onto her side it might release some of the fluid. It is important to use gravity in those circumstances, so as to maintain comfort. Today, four days after her last breath, I yearn for the stability of gravity. My own mother failed me miserably. The choice of alcohol to numb her lifelong depression left few sober moments for me, her only child.

Fierce as I was, I found remarkable women to sustain me.

A line of bright and broken, simple and brilliant, wise and foolish ladies. Women I gravitated to in search and need of motherly love and protection. Women who helped to keep me grounded when her damaged life whirled riptides around my small soul.

Somehow I found them, each different from the other. Some for only a few years, others for all their years remaining. They took me in, they sent me out. They battled for my needs and forced my truths. They taught me by example, both what I should and should not be or do. But always, they steadied the ground beneath my feet and held my heart with care and tenderness.

The stories are long, each passing is painful. But this, this is Elisabeth. A force of life that has been quietly at my side and strong beneath my sometimes trembling feet. In this moment I am free falling, fearful and filled with the gravity of my grief.

And yet, I know the morning will come, when I gather all the lessons of the extraordinary women who have raised me and I will stand up, open the curtains, take a breath and walk surely with each held firmly in my heart.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image via LightFieldStudios


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Grief

digital painting of girl in love with glowing heart, acrylic sketched on canvas texture

5 Ways to Cope When the Anniversary of a Loved One Who's Passed Approaches

Let’s take a moment to talk about the date that comes around every year like clockwork. A date you cannot hide from. You can’t bury it like other aspects of grief because no matter what the date will appear each year. Every year on April 11th, is the angelversary of the day my brother was killed. “Angelversary” [...]
A picture of the author's brother and son.

When My Son Asked Me, 'Mommy, How Far Away Is Heaven?'

Chancellor and I were in Estes Park for the 4th of July last year just like I had spent almost every 4th of July since I was a little girl. I have very blissful memories of Alex and I running around Lake Estes and having KFC picnics with our parents and their good friends Patty [...]
Vintage filtered on silhouette of depressed girl sitting on the window

What Grief Steals From Me Every Day

I live with a thief. It started the day that death broke into our home. I thought I had the doors locked tightly against him, but he managed to get in anyway. Death is a well-known thief, and in our family, he targeted my son. He stole everything from our 5-year-old. It’s a sleazy trick [...]
woman crying in shower

Confessions From My Shower: Coming Clean About My Grief

There are personal spaces where grievers feel safe and secure enough to expose our open wounds. Within these spaces we express our raw, ravaged souls. We grieve alone, hidden in the safety of these places where no one can see us. These private, some not so private places were and still are inescapable. Whether encapsulated [...]