April 26, 2015

Coping with an Untimely Death.

Death, grief, grieving

On April 3, 2015 (Good Friday) my Mother left this world. She was terminally ill with an incurable brain disease. She made the choice to take her own life.

I wrote this piece in honor of her memory and it has helped me cope with some of the emotions that I’m still processing as a result of her untimely death.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”

~ Rumi

What do you do when you’re left with death, to pick up the pieces and move forward? Do you sit with it alone? Do you try to block it out? Do you confront it like an angry bull in a pasture with no place to run and hide?

Death undeniably leaves behind a void that simply can not be filled. An overwhelming sense of aloneness that envelopes you in a dark cloak. The world as we know it continues to spin beyond our door, yet we tend to pay no attention to it. We might simply rather close ourselves off from it completely.

Our mind becomes distracted. Our thoughts a jumbled up mess likened to a tangle of Christmas lights that were carelessly put away after a long and exhausting Christmas Holiday.

Memories flood. Your eyes become swollen with these memories as you weep for something lost, things long past that you can not get back or in any way possibly begin to re-create.

We tend to romanticize the good times and replay the bad. Like a broken record that spins then gets stuck in the same place unless and until you physically take the action to get up and stop it yourself.

It’s haunting, the memoirs as they slip silently like smoke through a key hole. It’s overwhelming to the point of mental, emotional, and yes—even physical exhaustion.

How do you sit with grief other than to nurture it, as a Mother would? To care for it in all of its stages and cycles. How do you move on with your own life without someone you held so very dear to your heart? A vacancy exists that no other person can possibly fill. You somehow must honor their memory, and figure out on your own how you will sort through the rest.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
                                                               ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

We each mourn and grieve differently. We have to learn how to keep the memories of those we love who have passed on alive inside of us somehow. To find comfort in knowing that the person we lost would not want us to be sad for their absence, but to remember them as they were when they were still present beside us. To cherish their sacred memory and hold it tight to our beating (though bleeding) heart.

We can visit the place they held in our lives as if it were a movie that we can replay in our mind whenever we choose. We have to remember the good and light a flame to the bad and by doing so, let go of any negative emotion or resentment that their passing might have left us with.

We truly do have the ability to heal ourselves, if we choose. We can and we must in order to move forward from the chains of grief that can so easily imprison us.

Whether you believe in life after death, that our Souls are here to serve a purpose—is solely up to you. For me, I view death as a change of worlds. From this world to the next.

I do not personally fear death. I welcome it even, for when my time upon the earth shall pass, I will too go.

What I fear most now is the impact that my own death will have on the lives of those I leave behind.
I can only hope to leave good memories and a beacon of light that shines into the darkness upon my loved ones as they grieve.

From this life to the next, I fear not death. I will leave behind a legacy that will live on through the lives of my children and all the lives that my own has touched. I have vowed that I will make the conscious choice every day to live my life in a way that will honor the memory of my Mother.

So that when my time has come to pass and I exchange this world for that which lies beyond, my children and those who I leave behind can remember me fondly—as I sit here and remember my own Mother now.

I remember her with tears of joy and tears of grief and all the love of a little girl who grew up wearing her mama’s shoes and playing dress up with my sister in mama’s oh-so-grown-up dresses. The time for living my life is now.

In the shadow of my Mother’s death, I now know beyond a doubt that she only ever wanted what was best for me, her first born child. The choices she made shaped not only her life, but my own. Her legacy lives on through me, my siblings, her grandchildren and the lives that her life touched.

I only hope that in her death I can somehow make her proud. She’s with me always, wherever I may go. She holds a place all her own in the deepest part of my heart. A place where little flowers bloom and the sun shines. This somehow brings me peace.

I can’t imagine how strong and brave she had to be to decide her own fate. It took a lot of courage on her part. Although I do not agree with her decision, I do understand why this is the path that she chose. I miss her terribly and the ache will always exist. But she is free. She suffers no more.


“The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.”
~ Stanley Kunitz




Relephant Reads:

What Death Teaches Us.


Author: Annie R. Towns

Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image:  Martin-Flickr

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