Grief on the first Mother’s Day afterward surprised me. I ignored it, forgot it, and didn’t face the fact that my mother passed away last year. It’s an example of how I’ve used denial in my grief. Mother’s Day was never a time I looked forward to for myself. So, I always focused on Mom.
But she isn’t here now. The last time I saw her was almost a year ago.
But before that, on October 15, 2020, Mom and I ate at one of our favorite seafood restaurants, Crazy Fish, in Lake Wales, Florida. It’s such a noisy place. We were excited to sit outside in the coolness. Perhaps we laughed about one of her stories before I took our selfie above.
What Woke Me Up?
My sister posted a picture on social media of the last time she and my brother-in-law hugged Mom. I commented, “Today it hit me… the first Mother’s Day without Mom.
Rather Than Sit with My Emotion
Since I was on my laptop, I automatically checked my email and was startled to find an email inviting me to use newspapers.com to see if Mom ever made it to the paper. I became lost down the rabbit hole of looking up every closely related woman in the newspapers. It was a fantastic avoidance tactic.
But I also learned new things about my mother, grandmothers, and aunts. Also, I was reminded how different married life was for women a generation older than me.
To find newspaper articles about your mother’s generation successfully, search for “Mrs.” and their husband’s name. Only one person in my family used her name, my Aunt Lila Roads. And it was clear how she was different. Aunt Lila entered the business world, where she sought employment in administrative roles. Most of my other relatives were homemakers, and their mentions were on the social pages, which was a perfect place for women in the Deep South. So, since Aunt Lila and Uncle Mick moved to the more progressive state of California, she ended up in the newspaper.
What did I learn about Mom?
There were many articles about her engagement and wedding, but what intrigued me the most was an inquiry sent to The Tampa Tribune’s Food section’s “Recipes: Lost and Found.” She asked for a coconut cake recipe with coconut milk. And I found the responses!
This is interesting because my Mom’s sister, Carolyn, and I have discussed the long-standing hunt for their mother’s famous coconut cake recipe. Is this it? I think it has the basic ingredients, but my grandmother always used fresh coconut, often from West Palm Beach, Florida. After all, that’s where her mother lived, along with her older sister. There would have been a lot of love in those coconuts.
The hours I spent searching for newspaper articles never resulted in tears. It kept my mind busy and opened up new realizations. It helped me celebrate the memory of my mother rather than mourn the loss of her touch. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the tears. So, I’m happy about that.
What About the Grief?
My grief feels like it’s in my face, especially right now with the reminder of Mother’s Day. While writing, I’ve taken many crying breaks. Letting the feelings flow out feels good, leaving room for the joy of happy memories.
And one truth exists for anyone mourning a loss. Ignoring or avoiding the deep feelings of grief are impediments to healing. And I want to heal.
What are Some Ways for You to Heal?
Writing your feelings down is a great way to get your grief moving. Choose a place where you feel safe to cry or even scream if that is what you need. Your path toward healing is uniquely you. There are no right or wrong ways to express grief.
Walk outside. Grief can make us feel isolated, so getting up and moving helps to lift your mood.
Deep breathing is always welcome.
Here is one of my favorite deep breathing methods.
- Take a deep breath in, filling your lungs.
- Take one more sip of air at the top of your breath.
- Exhale with a big sigh, “Aaaaaaaaa,” as you release all the air.
I always feel better when I do any of these activities.
Here’s wishing you a peaceful weekend.
Sending you loving kindness,