This article is different from ones that reflect on how grief evolves years after the death of a loved one. I’ll share what changed my grief – what got me on the other side of tremendous pain.
I howled as I stood beside my mother’s bed 10 years ago this week. After taking her pulse, I realized she was dead. I buried my face in my husband’s chest. I howled again when the hospice nurse arrived, put a stethoscope on her chest and shook her head “no.”
Mom’s house became my mourning place as I cleaned out hers and Dad’s belongings over an eight year period. Not that I didn’t mourn her elsewhere. But it was an operation room of sorts. It’s where I exposed all my insides to the full force of grief’s scalpel.
Last year, I sold their house. Despite all the years that had passed, I hated letting go of the place where I felt their presence the most. However, I definitely saw a change in me. My grief was not the same. How did that happen? Was it simply passage of time? I can confidently say no.
How long will grief last? When will the pain subside? I see social media posts from people who say the grief still feels fresh years later. They fear that sorrow will never subside. While each of us will follow a unique timeline with our grief, I sometimes wonder what might be happening that keeps a sense of healing out of reach. I want to connect, offer a hug, and help.
As I reflect on my grief, I see not only a different sorrow 10 years later, but I see things I did and things that occurred to help me experience a measure of healing. I’ve identified eight that I share below.
What if you could hear your deceased parent tell a story you’ve never heard?
What if you could discover thoughts they’d never expressed?
What if you could get perspective they never gave you in life?
If a parent or another loved one left behind a diary or journal – or even letters or tales of events in story form – you’ve got a gold mine.
I also realize our perception of someone may be shattered by what is written in a raw moment of honesty, guilt or bereavement. We also may learn intimate details we don’t want to know.
Early in the project to clean out my parents’ home, I found a batch of their love letters I’d never known existed. I hesitated reading them. I feared the equivalent of walking into a bedroom and discovering my parents naked.