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The Grief From Losing My Mom Unexpectedly Has Taken Hold of My Heart

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Imagine a tree whose branches are heavy with snow and ice after a storm… that’s what I feel like. A substantial weight presses down on my limbs and chest and squeezes my heart — it’s grief. It has taken me a long time to write about my grief because it is a deeply personal and invisible pain that I carry. Grief has broken me down, but I’m trying to slowly open up about my struggles.

In September 2014 my life was changed forever. My mom passed away unexpectedly from an undetected heart defect. I felt completely shattered and didn’t know how to process what happened. It felt like a bad dream from which I desperately wanted to wake up from. How could someone so lively, so vibrant, so meaningful be unresponsive? I have harbored a strong guilt ever since my mom’s passing. I constantly wonder, was she in pain but never said so? Were there signs that I missed? If I had woken up sooner that morning, would there have been a better chance of saving her? Why did this happen?

So many questions swirl inside of me. A mixture of emotions have built up within me — confusion, anger, sadness. The magnitude of the loss of my mom feels even greater today, because the numbness has worn off. I have stepped out of that dream-like state but not into a reality I wanted. The harsh reality of life without her has finally set in, yet I don’t think I will ever be able to completely adjust to it.

My mom was my best friend and I always imagined her by my side. She was such a core part of my life that a huge void grew inside me after she passed away. With time I have started viewing this internal void differently, though; maybe it is not a void but a footprint my mom left on my heart. Maybe my emptiness is actually full of meaning. I still feel empty, because I knew what it felt like to feel complete. I feel broken, because I knew what it felt like to feel whole. I feel despair, because I knew what it felt like to feel joy.

The weight I feel on my chest is no longer a burden because I finally understand what it is. The weight is a gift, for it is love. I have come to realize that the weight of loss is the footprint of love.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my mom. I hope she knew how much I loved her and how much I still do. I terribly miss her physical presence, her hugs, her voice. I wish I could be embraced by her again and never let go. I will forever carry the weight of her love with me.

I find comfort in knowing that I have my dad and brother with me. We are each other’s greatest support system and I am grateful for their unconditional love. Sometimes, I fear that I will not be able to uplift my dad and brother, because my own limbs feel so broken and weary.

Yet, amid this storm I want to be a haven, like my dad and brother are for me. I aspire to memorialize my mom through my writing and continue living my life in honor of her. I — like the frozen tree I described at the beginning of this piece — am beginning to thaw by the warmth of my mom’s love which will always shine for me. Her rays are touching my limbs, wrapping them in her light, giving me hope and strength on this new journey in my life.

Photo credit: Viktor_Gladkov/Getty Images

Originally published: January 24, 2019
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