On December 29th, 2019, I sat at a kitchen table with my sister. It was a planned coffee and Bailey’s date and while we sipped our warm mugs of joy, we got to task.
Before my arrival, she gathered some of my mother’s belongings. She asked if we could go through everything; maybe there would be something I would like to take home? Memories of my mother filled the table. The jewelry she wore, the perfume she used and was her signature scent and photos dating back to when she was a child.
We went through the “big” things when she passed away, almost 6 years ago now. These, however, were the harder things to process. Among the items, there was a journal. As my mother grew ill, she was asked to keep a daily diary of her pain levels and how she was feeling by one of her physicians.
During the painstaking daily ritual of writing how she felt, she used phrases like; “I can’t stand myself anymore”, “only slept one hour last night”, “I feel exhausted”. I sat back. I wasn’t sure what it was I was feeling as I flipped from page to page. And then, all at once, I understood. I could feel the letters and the marks her pen left as she wrote. It was the closest I felt to her in years.
On my way home, with photographs and shiny trinkets in my passenger seat, I cried.
Here’s what I learned on December 29th:
- There is no expiry date on grief. It comes in waves. Sometimes it barrels in like a hurricane and sometimes it’s a soft breeze, a subtle reminder.
- Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief and that’s ok. Some people need support while others prefer to be alone.
- There is no right way to grieve. There are no rules or expectations.
- The level of grief is not dictated by the circumstances surrounding the loss. A loss is a loss. Nothing makes it easier or harder.
- It’s ok to feel sad and it’s ok to talk about it regardless of how long it’s been.
As we enter a new year and a new decade, here’s what I wish for everyone. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re at, find a lined journal of any kind and write about it. It can be about gratitude or it can be about your day to day life. There are no rules and the content is irrelevant. Someday, someone who misses you will find that journal, run their fingers over the words you wrote and feel comforted, even if just for a while.
~ Mel Morin, CEO of StaffStat