Grief and Loss- ten years later


It has been 10 years since my mother’s passing, and I can no longer remember the sound of her voice. Over and over again, I repeat the things she used to say and the way she said them in my head. I know her cadences and timing. I know that I hated her singing because it was so nasally, but she seemed to enjoy my displeasure and only sang louder. I can picture her face as she spoke, whether it was happy or sad- but I just can’t hear her anymore.
I spent 19 years of my life hearing her voice every single day, and I used to tell myself 19 years was enough. 19 years is a lot of years- I was technically an adult when she left us- but I know more than I did 10 years ago, and I know that I was really nothing more than a child.

I know that some people say “it feels like yesterday” when speaking about lost loved ones, but for me- some days it feels like even longer. Nine Mother’s Days have passed. Nine Christmases. One wedding. Three grandchildren. So many birthdays.

I’m older, and I guess one could say I am wiser- but I still feel…. angry. Angry that she isn’t here to do the things she deserves to be doing. Angry that she left me with so many questions. Angry that my children will never get to know her, that I didn’t even really get to know her, and instead of all of us learning, they have to know her through me- and I can’t even hear her voice. I’m even angry that I’m still angry.

After ten years, I guess I thought I would have more of an understanding. Why this happened. Why me? Why her? What do I do without her?
I thought I would feel less lost. Less confused. I thought that I would have some big grand understanding of life and loss and how to cope with it all, how to move past it, how to come out the other end of the long, dark tunnel that is grief stronger.

Maybe I didn’t learn any of those things- but I did learn. We have to in order to carry on. Even though I still feel anger, it isn’t at her. This wasn’t her fault, and I know she would be here if she could be. I also know that there is nothing wrong with what I’m feeling- because I am FEELING, and that is a part of life.
It is hard not to give in and just feel pain and anger and jealousy all day, all month, all the time- of what was lost and what others still have, what my boys are missing out on. I know she would not want that for me. I have to remind myself of this a LOT, and it’s work. I also know it’s okay to still hurt and ache for her- it’s natural, it’s love that does that- and the loss of having it in front of me- something I can hold onto, something tangible.

Today has been hard, but like with most things in life- we have to hold on to the positive things and carry them with us to get through the darkness.
I learned from her life being cut so short and there being SO much left she wanted to accomplish to live life to the fullest. Not in fear. Even though I can’t hear her, I carry her with me- I carry what she taught me, even after her passing, with me at all times.

I’ve had 10 years to reflect on the time I got to spend with her. How little I appreciated it. How much we bickered over petty nonsense. What I would do differently had I only known sooner to appreciate her because she would be gone before I knew it, so far before her time; I should have told her I loved her more. I should have spent more time with her. I should have, would have, could have- but I know I can’t focus on that. I know she wouldn’t want that for me.  When we lose someone so close to us, someone who meant so much to us- of course we would look back and think about all of the things we would do differently if we only had the chance- but we can’t do that to ourselves. We have to keep looking forward, not just for us, but for the ones we lost along the way.

I know, deep down, that even though I am, she was never angry- and she is not angry now about the stupid fights and the constant butting of heads. I know that because I carry her with me.
I know that even though her passing ten years ago doesn’t feel like yesterday, and it doesn’t feel like last week; even though I would love nothing more than to have her here for just one more moment, I can’t change what has happened- I can only remember her for all that she was and all that she wanted to be- and move forward with her in my heart. I may not be able to hear my mom, but I can feel her. Always.
That may not ever be enough- but nothing can take it away from me.

Posted on May 14, 2013 by Holdin' Holden 29 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • My mother passed 2 years ago. She would have been 70 this year. Not a day goes by that I do not think of her or her voice….the same feelings and thoughts you have. I was not able to be there for her passing….thanks to the hatred of my siblings and other so called “family”….I would give anything to be, just for a moment, that little boy again that knew his momma would always know what to say to make things better……I admire your courage in sharing this with everyone! I respect you very much! God bless you!

    • Hugs to you, Bill. My mom was 44. She had so much left to do, so many goals left to conquer- and I have so many unanswered questions. It is hard, but we make it through- for us, and for them- because they deserve everyone around them to live on with their memory.

      • Hugs to you too, Holdin…it is so easy to be angry for a parents loss, but when it is a persons time to go, all we can do is remember the good…not the bad….sorry for rambling…but you said it all so well in your blog….it’s nice to know that someone truly understands!

  • This is beautiful and it really speaks to me. In October it will have been 5 years since my dad passed. In those 5 years I have gotten married and bought my first house. It kills me not to have him share in my life’s adventures. He will always be in my heart. They say it get’s easier but I disagree. You never miss them less or think about them less. I fear that I will forget the sound of his voice or his big laugh. I never want to lose that. One thing I have learned is to never take anything for granted and to truly enjoy life and all of the people you are blessed with to share that life with you. Thank you for sharing!

    • Absolutely. Worse than losing her, is losing part of her memory. And she passed before camera and camera phones and video was so easily whipped out and integrated into regular human interaction. It sucks.

  • I completely understand what you are feeling. My Mother passed several years ago, and on the anniversary of her death ,I don’t feel sadness because our relationship was not a good one. I never really knew my mother. Just wanted to let you know that there are other people who may or may not feel what you do.

  • Sara Gestes Hill May 14, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I found your blog months ago by chance and instantly I had an addiction. lol I can’t even remember how now. This is without a doubt my favorite blog and I have had so many before now. You put into words what I have felt for years. I lost my father on Nov. 3, 1998 to Muscular Distrophy. I was 11 years old. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. He was diagnosed when I was 4 and, unfortunately, I have very few memories of him before the disease took his voice, all mobility, and his ability to breath on his own. I too can not remember his voice, his smell, or laugh. I have 3 beautiful little girls and just married my husband Dec 3, 2012. My daddy wasn’t there. It was bittersweet and I shed a lot of tears. He is the greatest man I never knew. I am so terribly sorry for your loss but after reading these loving words about your mother I know she helped shape you into the wonderful woman and mother that we all wait to hear stories from.

    • Thank you for your comment Sara. I am so sorry for your loss as well. As much as it hurts to have gone through this, I find comfort in the fact that I am not alone <3

      • Sara Gestes Hill May 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

        Thank you for sharing this with us. I know it had to take a lot to write and share with strangers and you are very courageous to do so. Not even halfway through I was in tears. I feel as if I have finally read how I have felt for all these years but just couldn’t say it myself. I have so much respect for you and God bless you and your little family! <3

  • Thankyou for your insight and I’m Sorry for your loss. My Mum died on New Years Day just passed. We lost my Dad 15 years ago. I’m 42 and my Mum was 67 and I’m not ready to live without her yet. As you say though, you have to.
    My brother & I scattered their ashes, mixed together like they’d specified in a place that was important to them both on Mothers Day (last weekend)
    It all feels to raw and huge still and I know I WILL cope, just right now – I can’t imagine how.

  • I know exactly how you feel. I lost my mother almost 23 years ago. She died June 16, 1990…2 days after my 22nd bday. I felt like my whole world had been crushed. When the sun rose the next day…I was ANGRY!!!!!!! How dare the sun shine! I would stare incredulously at people going about their day and think…”Hey!!! My mother just DIED!!!!!!!!!” I was in the full grip of grief and despair. I was trying so hard to be “strong” for my little sis, who was only 14 at the time, and my grandparents. I saw my dad dissolve into tears…my brother into stony silence. No one was there for me. In actuality, I know everyone was there for me but I was rejecting everything. My full blown “insane” moment happened in Walmart though. We were there picking up some things and I noticed a woman…she had her back to me and I could have sworn it was MY mother! Now I realized my mother had passed but somewhere in me there was a little flicker of hope and excitement. Had God heard my cries for my mother to be back with us? Had it all been a bad dream??? I had to find out. So, I followed this lady all over the store. Up and down every aisle. She never once turned around. I noticed she had started walking a bit faster and faster until finally it was almost as if we were in a full blown run straight to Customer Service Desk. You see…this lady HAD noticed that I was following her and well…she was the size of my mother which was only like 5’5 and 100 lbs soaking wet and I’m almost 6 feet tall and over 100 lbs dry lol. She ran up to the counter and was furiously seeking help and protection. When I got to the counter all these eyes were peering at me like I was a terrorist or something. Then, the lady finally turned around to me and asked, “Why are you following me?? I don’t have anything for you!!” It was then my fantasy of my mother miraculously coming back to life disappeared and full reality hit me in the face. I had frightened this poor lady unwittingly. She must have thought I was going to mug her or something. I just shook my head and apologized. I told her I had just lost my mother to cancer and from behind she looked exactly like her. Tears rolling down my face, embarrassed to the hilt and full grief enveloping me again like a cocoon. But, this lady must have lost someone too in her life because she sighed and gave me condolences on my mother’s passing and said she totally understood. She said time will ease my grief but it will never take it away. How right she was. 23 years later…I still think of my mother everyday but I can cope and even talk about her sometimes without crying 🙂 But, for some reason…I always look for her anyway knowing she’s not there. But I know…that when it’s my time to pass on…she’ll be right there to walk with me into that bright tomorrow and knowing that…it’s easier for me to deal. Prayers for you Jenny….always 🙂

    • Hugs <3 I see my mom EVERYWHERE- it's so hard.

      • 🙂 Muppet…you see her everywhere because I believe that is the way God is letting her watch over you. Don’t let it be hard…and I know it is sometimes but rather start enjoying it. When it happens to me…I just let this warm feeling drape over my soul like a warm blanket or embrace and think “Wow Mom…you truly are still walking with me :)” It’s all what ever perspective we CHOOSE to take in cases like these. I choose warm fuzzy and remember her smile and laughter rather than grief and despair. Keep your humor…she gave you that gift 🙂

  • I am a fan of your facebook page. I feel so compelled to send this message to you. You spoke straight to my heart with every word. I lost my mom 6 years ago. She was 47. I am 35. This Mother’s Day was the hardest yet, and I really couldn’t figure out why. I love my boys so much, but yet I could’t keep her off of my mind all day. I finally broke down at around 10pm. Crying so hard, I hadn’t cried for her that way since her funeral. Your blog post brought me so much peace that I feel empowered, and WILL carry on. Not just for me and my boys, but for HER. Thank you so much. I hope that you know the depth of your words, because they comforted me in a time of need. Even though we are strangers. Life is good. 🙂

  • I could have written this exact post. I was trying to explain to my husband why I was so somber on Mother’s Day morning when my kids were so excited to give me their gifts. I too lost my mom at 19, but it has been 24 years since I lost her. I told him that I hate that each year is just as hard as the last, what I wouldn’t give to have at least one more day, or at the very least one video of her. I realized that I don’t even have many pictures of her from those last years we spent together as mother/daughter and that makes me sad. I was cheated from knowing her as an adult and I don’t think one day goes by that I don’t think of her. All I know is, it sucks! My wish for you and for myself is that we can live long to be the best moms we can possible be and give our children many more years with us than we had with ours. Thank you for your words.

  • 25 years and counting. It’s funny, I don’t know exactly when it happened for me, but I just realized a few weeks ago that I couldn’t remember my mom’s voice anymore either. I do remember one day several years ago seeing a woman from her back and thinking “That’s my mom!” The woman’s hair looked exactly like Mama’s did before the chemo took hers. Of course when the lady turned towards me, it wasn’t Mama. It was a really bad day. But Like you say I got through because I had to. You don’t get over a death like theirs, you just keep going. We carry them in our hearts. They are a part of us, and we them. Thanks for sharing your heart. I hope it helps you to do it, it helps us. <3

  • Melissa Nicholson May 14, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I know that sharing raw feelings can be very difficult. I am older than you and my mother is still alive but the mother who raised me has been gone for years, robbed from me by Alzheimers. She no longer knows who I am. That first visit where she no longer knew me was really tough. Now she may not know me but I know her and will care for her like she did for me when I was little. My older sister had become the “mom voice”, my go to person when I needed to know that old recipe, or advice about men, life, kids or to plan our yearly birthday trip. She passed away last month. I lost more than a sister, I also lost my “mom voice”. I miss her terribly. Her celebration of life is this weekend. She planned it before she died!! What she didn’t plan on was the venue being booked for the whole month after she passed! I can just hear her now wondering what took us so long!!
    May peace be with you.

  • May 10, 2013 it was 7 yrs since my Mama passed. She was 59 and I am now 49. I hate that it is so close to Mother’s Day…I am so sorry for yours and everyone’s losses. I agree we get through it because we have to. Thankfully I have my Sister to help ease the pain and share in the pain with me. My Mama was sick for the last 10-15 years of her life so we knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier. I am thankful that I got to say everything I wanted to my Mama…I was at peace with our relationship…she knew how much I love her and I didnt want her to suffer any longer. I think of her EVERY day and see her in myself and my sister and that helps. I can no longer remember her voice, but I remember her words…I wish you peace and agree that when you see someone that looks like your Mama, smile and in your mind say hi to her and feel her warm embrace!!

  • My grandmother was like a mom to me. My dad moved in with her when I was 7 and my parents split and she played a HUGE part in raising me. She passed away when I was 4 months pregnant with my son. Her and I had a VERY rocky relationship over the years, even with her denying that I was really my fathers daughter. By the time she passed we had become closer and she had accepted me but we still fought and bickered and said some of the meanest things to each other. It has been almost 3 years since she passed and I still think about her EVERY day. So many things I wish I would have asked her, recipes I wish I would have gotten, and things I wish I would have written down. I wish so badly that she could have been here to meet my son. She was so afraid I was going to have a girl (the family is VERY anti girl, one reason I just couldn’t possibly be my fathers offspring, as she swore he could only make boys), I was admitted to the hospital after pulling a few abdominal muscles the night she passed, I was the one that found her and after working in a nursing home for years didn’t even think about being pregnant when I tried to get her up off the floor where she had collapsed. I found out 6 hours after she died that she was getting her little boy. I feel that she is truly a part of us. I miss her every day but I still feel her in the things we do. We still do the garden and can the vegetables like she did and use a lot of her recipes. I know she was suffering a lot and I’m glad that has ended, but I’m selfish and I want her here with us instead. I held her in my arms that night and when she told me that “this is it, I’m going to die tonight” I told her she wasn’t and that I needed her. I still to this day regret that when I should have been saying goodbye and telling her how much I loved her I was telling her instead that I needed her too bad and she wasn’t going anywhere. I should have known she meant it, it was the only actual words she was able to form and yet I was still being too selfish to let go…. Thank you for writing this. I needed to let out some of that. I haven’t admitted that out loud since it happened…. I feel guilty for being selfish but I know she would be proud of the woman and mother that I have become as I know your mother would be proud of you!!!

  • Reading this solidified all my mixed feelings at yet another mothers day without my Mom. Only 15 months have passed 2 days out of the year I look with envy at others who share their mothers day and Christmases with their Moms. There are days I feel ripped off as both my parents have passed. Losing my one and only Mom and one and only Dad gives me the desire to be the best and give the best to my sons. Thank you Jenny for sharing your deeply personal journey through grief.

  • I can’t hear my grandfather’s laugh anymore, he passed 11 years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest. My father passed just before Christmas last year and I seldom allow myself to think of him because if I do the grief closes in on me and I can’t breathe. I should have visited him more, I should have told I loved him more, I should have told him what it meant to have him in my life and I did, sort of. During the hospice stage and I can’t know if he heard me, if I was too late. I miss him everyday and this June will be the first father’s day without him. I used to gripe about it because our youngest was born June 19th and doing both was exhausting. Now, I’d give anything to be ‘inconvenienced’ or exhausted this June. I was a fool and I took him for granted. You’re right, though, they don’t want that for us. Thanks for reminding me. I hope you’ll find peace and I hope unexpectedly one morning as you wake from a pleasant dream you will hear her voice. Thank you for doing what you do and for being brave enough to let us see your humanity.

  • I connect with this… but in an entirely different way.

    My mother is alive…
    We haven’t seen each other in almost 3 years.

    For all intensive purposes… she’s dead to our family.

    It breaks my heart to no end…
    We all know it is safer that she is away from us…
    For our physical, mental, and emotional health…

    But, especially on Mother’s Day, it hurts…

    I know this wasn’t what your post was about…
    But, I see my mother everywhere…

    And I just wish I could have her back…

  • I could have written this blog entry myself in December. December 13, 2012 was 10 years for me since my mother passed. I was also 19, I also realized later that I was nothing more than a child when she was taken from me. I have only one child, but it’s still hard to know that my mother missed out on her life, especially since my mother asked my older sister to get married and have a baby, so she could have a grand child before she died. My daughter asks me constantly about my mother, which is hard most of the time, especially since my daughter has made statements in the past about how she doesn’t understand why she couldn’t know my mother. But I tell her what I remember from what I knew of my mother, and from what I’ve learned about her from other family members.

    I count my blessings for VHR tapes and a mother’s day cassette tape my mother made my grandmother the last mother’s day before she died, as both of these allow me to hear her voice when I need to, now that I can no longer remember it in my head. But even if I can’t hear her voice in my head, I repeat her sayings and tell her stories, and in that way I keep her memory alive. I’ve been asked by friends who have never lost a close loved one, and especially by those who have recently lost a parent, “does it ever get easier?” I tell them I’m still waiting.

  • My 24yr old brother was killed in a motorcycle accident on 5/2/80. His death broke my heart, and but unfortunately my mother blamed me as he was riding with my husband and several friends. Growing up she was physically and emotionaly abusive following his death and the death of my Dad 6/7/80. To this day I still have difficulty on and anniversary of my brothers death, missing him terribly.

  • I adore you and your way with words. I lost the woman I called “mother” when I was 9. She was actually my grandmother, but was so much a part of my life. She had a nickname she called me, and in fact she never used my real name. I find that I miss her a lot. I wish she were here to see my daughters and offer advice. I miss her sassiness towards everything in life. I just miss her.
    Now I’m 40 with three grown daughters. My oldest is 20 & 18 year old twins, they have been blessed in their life having many grandparents still living. Part of me just wishes we had one more to add to them.

  • She was beautiful! I lost a parent at 34 and I still felt too young to go through it, I can’t imagine being just 19. Kudos to you! Thank you for sharing and putting into words what some of us can’t <3

  • I was 19 when my Mom passed away. She had first gotten breast cancer when I was 13. I thought that we had gone through all of the hard parts when she was clear of cancer when I turned 16. Little did I know that was only our first step in her journey. It came back as stage 4 when I was 17. She lasted longer than the doctors anticipated. She put up a tough fight and never conceded to the fact that she might die up until the very end. It has been almost 10 years now. This post has given me some support, some glance at others who have been through the same experience that I have. No one can imagine the journey that another has taken, but it is comforting to feel not alone.