There were many blog posts and essays in the last few weeks on what it’s like to spend Mother’s Day and Father’s Day without either of your parents. Some were poignant, some were sad, and others expressed remorse. The writers shared their pain over relationships they’ll miss and ones that can no longer be mended. I was surprised to realize that I could no longer relate. I no longer feel that deep sadness and I never felt regret.
In the weeks and months following my mother’s death, my last parent, I couldn’t possibly have envisioned a time without the deep-seated, often searing pain. I remember searching for ways to lessen my loss by asking anyone I met who had also lost their mom how they coped.
But I learned the hard way that the only course to move on was to fully grieve my loss. And I did it the traditional way by going through all the stages of grief. I had the good fortune of a spouse who listened as I told my story over and over. A few friends stood by my side but my best and most helpful support came from my siblings. One sister in particular seemed to mirror my grief and our talks helped us deal and cope with a myriad of feelings and emotions.
That’s not to say that I don’t miss my parents. This year my family has the good fortune of a major lifecycle event with each daughter. As we recently stood at graduation with grins from ear to ear, I thought of the pride my parents would have felt. But it was with satisfaction, not sorrow.
I don’t really know when I turned the corner on my grief or when my thoughts became more reflective than sad. I do feel that I possess qualities of both of my parents and I live their values each and every day. In that sense, their legacy lives within me and that brings me great comfort.
As my husband and I walk our daughter down the aisle this fall, I know I will be feeling many emotions. I will especially think of my own wedding day and how my mother leaned in and said, “Your father would be so proud.” As my siblings and their entire families gather round I know someone will say, “Mom and dad would be so proud.” And I’ll feel so good knowing that my family is all together. After all, that’s my legacy.
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.