How you doing? Sorry, that’s a horrible question. I know how you’re doing. Your world has just collapsed around you and you’re sitting on the cold, hard floor of a hospital hallway where you’ve just dramatically crumpled in a heap. You’re even thinking to yourself right now, “My! It’s this dramatic!” as a nurse rushes a chair over to you.
I’m not here to tell you to buck up, or calm down, or keep a stiff upper lip. I’m here to tell you to cry. Cry. A. Lot. This won’t be hard advice to follow. See? You’re already doing it! Bravo! Let your emotions flow and be messy and unpredictable. It’s okay. Really. You’re going to be riding the waves of grief for years to come, so just get used to it.
What I do want to tell you is that life will get better. I know, I know, that sounds ridiculous right now, but just hear me out. From my vantage point ten years in our future, nothing worse than this night has happened. So, welcome to your rock bottom! Nowhere to go but up! Yippy! (Sorry, I’ll stop.)
Yes, we’ll have bad days, but way, WAY more good days. And not to mention good people. I don’t want to give anything away (I’ve seen enough time travel movies to know that’s a bad idea), but just trust me when I say that on the day that you will find yourself writing this you’ll feel so happy and satisfied with your life that you’ll tear up writing this sentence (and no, you didn’t just win an Academy Award…damn! I’ve said too much!).
I also want you to know that you will always miss your mom. That feeling doesn’t go away, but it will become more comfortable, almost like a soft and cozy sweater instead of the wet, soggy blanket of misery it feels like right now. And you will never lose your connection to your mom. She will always be with you. And I don’t mean in a guardian angel sort of way (but, yeah, kinda that too). I mean that you will find things in your day-to-day life that will remind you of her and make you smile whenever you see them. They will spark memories for you and you will get to live with her, even for just a moment, in those memories.
This letter probably makes no sense to you and I bet you’re fighting the impulse to rip it into tiny pieces and throw it in the trash (don’t worry, you can, I made copies!). I think this letter might actually be more for me than for you anyway (selfish, I know). I just wanted to take a moment to write to you and tell you that while nothing will ever be the same again, things will (eventually) be awesome again. Really, really awesome.
Here’s some advice:
1. Be gentle with yourself. This was the best advice I got on grieving and I still use it even 10 years later.
2. Lean on your friends and family. They love you and they support you 150%. Let them do it and don’t feel guilty about anything. You’re not annoying.
3. There is no timeline for grief. It will come in waves. Sometimes you’ll be riding the crest of a wave and feeling pretty good, then you’ll be down in the trough wondering how to get out of bed. Over time the crests will lengthen and the troughs will become shallower. Grief will go from being your BFF, to someone you see occasionally, to someone you’re considering deleting from your phone because you haven’t talked in so long. And don’t feel guilty about that. Your grief is not your mom. Your connection to your mom can be positive instead of painful.
Anyway, take care of yourself as best you can. You’re worth it. You’re awesome. Great things are in store for you.