My mom and I were extremely close and talked about everything. But we never discussed how I was going to live my life without her. This became abundantly clear in the weeks and months that followed her death; confident and sure-footed me was completely lost.
I couldn’t have imagined all those years ago that I would find joy without her, but I have. She wouldn’t have wanted her death to sap the pleasure from my days and thankfully, it hasn’t.
The mourning period following my mother’s death was incredibly painful. But I’m grateful that I allowed myself to fully grieve my loss and that eventually, I learned to accept it. And over the years I have taken to remembering and honoring my mother with the very special gifts she gave me in the values and beliefs that I too embody.
But how did I learn to find joy without her? It’s quite simple; I followed her example.
Having survived the early death of her father and widowed twice by the age of forty-six, my mother knew the importance of living each day fully. She never felt sorry for herself and focused more on the positives in her life. She took advantage of every opportunity to enjoy the companionship of her children, her family, and her friends. She found someone to join her at events and on trips and excursions she wanted to take. And most importantly, she lived her life with no regrets.
I marked the tenth anniversary of her death in January of this year. I woke up, acutely aware of her absence. I knew my mother would be annoyed if I was feeling sad, so in the morning, I blasted an upbeat CD and baked my favorite cookie recipe. The house filled with heavenly scents and I danced along with the music. It was exactly the way she would have liked me to remember her.
As I write this post, I’m getting ready for an important spring holiday, a special time while growing up. I’ll use some of my mother’s china when setting the table and I’ll incorporate a few of her recipes with my own. Each year, I remember the last time I celebrated this holiday with mom at my home. It’s bittersweet, but I love to remember that day. In the ensuing years, I’ve had equally happy days, with my own family and friends. More importantly, I will make sure that I’m fully engaged, not only for this holiday, but for every day. That’s how I find my joy.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.