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 StoreClick here to order.

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Comment by Milka Stanojevich on May 9, 2011 at 12:23pm

Robbie,

 

First of all, please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother and your children.

It took me a while to find my joy after my mother died, as well. I was always very independent and part of that was due to the fact that I spent so much time alone while growing up. My mom worked nights, and my father and brother were not around a great deal of the time.

I watched my mother bravely battle her disease, as she had fought so many other events in her life, from losing her mom at age six, to being shipped to Nazi Germany as forced labor when she was eighteen, to living with am abusive husband, and later, a callous, mainupulative son, with faith, incredible insight and sometimes, a sense of humor. It broke my heart when she died, at home, on that July morning almost fifteen years ago. For several years, I could not laugh or be joyous, without feeling horribly guilty afterwards. How could I laugh and enjoy myself knowing my mom was gone? To this day, I still think about it on some level, but I also know that my mother loved me very, very much and my happiness was her utmost concern. I do know that when I occasionally act "silly" I can hear her tsk-tsking me, a soft reprimand on how a mature woman should act, not that we cannot laugh, but our behavior should show intelligence and consideration of others as well. Each Mother's Day is difficult, there will never be a time when I can enjoy them as I did when she and I would spend the day together, sometimes arm-in-arm, so I avoid a lot of people on that day, since my feelings are so close to the surface to begin with. I visit her, and talk to her like I used to, and tell her how much I love her and how profoundly I miss her presence and her life in mine. I sometimes think, as I visit her on days that only have significance to us, that she may smile somewhere and say, see, my girl has not forgotten me. Maybe she "brags" to the neighbors, "she came to visit me on this cold and snowy day, my daughter still loves me". But I also know how she felt about my visiting her after she was gone, it was important to her, and therefore, it is important to me. Her birthday is January 1st, and so far, in the fifteen years she has been gone, I have kept my promise to be there on that day. We never "get over" the death of a loved one, certainly not a child or a mother we loved so deeply, but the days get better, the times we smile are because we were blessed to have had them in our lives at all, and we carry them in us as part of their legacy.

I am proud to have been my mother's daughter, her friend and her family, and if I can be half of what that dear lady was, I will be happy and proud of who I have become. We never stop grieving to some degree, but we eventually stop the active mourning. I know that I will grieve for her all of my life, in my own way, as she did for the mother she lost so long ago as well.

 

Comment by Gma Linda on May 9, 2011 at 1:41am

I was dreading Mothers Day.   2 hours and 40 minutes ago, Mothers Day officially ended. My

mom passed away in October. We lived 2 blocks from each other and talked on the phone , visited  and did things together every day.

I know that it is important to grieve. I took care of her the last weeks of her life. I  made sure she died at home,and

not in a nursing home. That had always been a great fear of  hers. I promised both my parents, they would die at home. I cry all the time. I dream about her every night,which I am thankful for.  My daughters and son in laws and

grandkids made Mothers Day comforting and wonderful. I usually spent it with my mom. Letting my wonderful daughters have their

day as moms with their own little families.When my dad died, I apologized to everyone I knew who had lost a parent. I  realized I hadn't a clue, the gut wrenching pain they had experienced.  I knew then I would never know how someone felt  until  I too experienced like theirs. God Bless all of you who have lost loved ones..

Comment by Deborah Lewis on May 7, 2011 at 4:31pm

I took care of my Mom for years, I was also an LPN, but its different when its Mom, we got very close, I loved being there with her in her home and nursing home, I remember looking out my Mom window, wondering where my siblings, and dgt. were.......My

om passed away Feb. 1, 2011, she was my heart, my love my everthing....this is my first mothers day without my heart, I cant stop crying,,,,,hurting, but od is able ,will be in church Sunday with my Moms sisters........Thanks Legacy............

 

 

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