Hope After Grief: A Personal StoryA mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. ~Cardinal Mermillod
One morning while preparing for school, my sister and I were suddenly hurried to the car. I couldn’t help but notice all the people coming into the house and speaking in low tones. Some even managed to point in our direction, shaking their heads.
I was a kid, but I wasn’t dumb. I knew the inevitable had happened. I had lost my mother. I felt terrible, but then I refused to cry. I was glad that her pain and suffering had finally come to an end.
You see, my mother was a very beautiful woman. And if perhaps you didn’t notice her because of her looks, you would definitely be captivated by her charming smile.
The earliest vivid memory I have of her was during my nursery school graduation. That was a long time ago. I was probably around five or six, but the picture still adorns my wall to this day.
She cultivated many gardens and farms. My family never lacked food; we had enough to take care of the numerous visitors that trooped in and out of our house. We also used to sell some of the farm products in front of our gate, especially the vegetables.
My mom was a disciplined high school teacher with an entrepreneurial spirit. She definitely instilled those virtues of discipline and hard work into her children. She was never the one to tolerate indolence or waste of any kind.
Beginning of the End
Just before my eighth birthday however, I noticed that the once very strong and energetic woman was becoming weak, frail and very sickly.
I didn’t really understand what was happening. I saw that my dad was always taking her from one hospital to the other. Not just that, people were frequently coming over to the house to pray for her.
For my birthday I asked her for a white pair of sneakers as my gift. My mom granted my wishes, and despite her meagre earnings, she also added an extra pair of black shoes and a black suit. It was as if she wanted to compensate for what she probably knew was going to happen.
A few weeks later her health deteriorated terribly, but she still tried to put up a strong front for us. I remember she used to call us around where she lay to tell us stories like George Orwell’s Animal Farm and the Beasts of England song. How can I ever forget that?
Through the Valley
When she eventually died in February that year, my initial reaction was relief. I didn’t really want her to die, but nothing broke my heart like seeing her lying helplessly in pain. I didn’t understand yet how much I would miss her later.
Growing up without a mother was tough. I battled with feelings of:
- Low self-esteem
- Unexpressed anger
I felt like I was an unwanted victim in the world — a burden no one wanted to bear.
I cried myself to sleep many nights, wondering why my mother of all people had to die. I felt as if not having a mother was a disability, and I hid it like a terrible secret. I was determined to bear my emotional pains silently.
Light at the End of My Tunnel
In 2005, the university granted me admission. I started being exposed to self-improvement and psychological books thath helped change my perception about me and the world in general.
I learned that what happened to me was beyond my power, but what I did with it was my decision. I read about a horse that fell into a well — it used the sand meant to bury it to rise and come out.
I also learned that whatever couldn’t kill me was meant to make me stronger. But above all, I learned from the bible that all things work out together for my good, including the seemingly bad ones.
Armed with this knowledge things started to change:
- I started to accept and love myself the way I was.
- I dropped the victim mentality, and accepted full responsibility for my life. I chose to make the best out of it regardless of whatever disadvantage I thought I had.
- I accepted my weaknesses and worked on the ones I could. Then I focused on maximizing my strengths.
How to Handle the Pain
It’s been eighteen years and six months since my mom died. Eighteen years of total transformation from feelings of insecurity and depression to those of self-confidence, joy, self-love and enthusiasm.
Yes, life threw its challenges at me. I almost caved in, but those same challenges helped make me the highly motivated and independent young man that I am today.
If you are passing through grief or a similarly unpleasant situation right now, know that there is hope for you. Understand that the hurt won’t last forever. The pain is what it is — a feeling. You dictate how you respond to it.
- Cry if you want to.
- Kick or punch anything if you feel like.
Let out the hurt. Don’t make the mistake of bottling those sad and angry emotions inside.
Allow yourself to grieve. But don’t stay there for long. Grieving should be something we momentarily experience and let go of. It is more like the moon — you can visit but can’t stay.
Remember, it is a phase and it shall pass. The hurt will be healed with time and you will experience joy again.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope you recover soon. Stay strong!