I lost my Mom to cancer in December 2013. It was a fast transition from illness to death. No matter how old you are, losing your Mom is a terrible thing. In looking at the positive side of things, I have put together a list of the things I’ve learned since losing my Mom.
1) No one is safe from cancer- my mom wasn’t a saint but she was pretty effing close. She was always giving of herself – she made everyone feel welcome and important. You just need to know that sometimes bad things happen to good people.
2) You must fight for the health care you want. You have to be your own advocate for your own care. Expect more of your health care team – ask lots of questions and don’t be satisfied with what they tell you if you need or want to know more.
3) “Everything happens for a reason” – I disagree. This is something people say in crappy or sad situations to perhaps make themselves feel better or see the light. But sometimes things don’t happen for a reason. Sometimes shit just happens.
4) Family is number ONE. My parents always stressed this. Sometimes friends come and go, but family is family. You can, and should, always be able to count on them. My Mom taught us to nurture these relationships and stress this point with my own kids.
5) People show their love in different ways. Some people are great with flowery words to express their love. Others show their love by doing and giving. My mom was a “gifter”- she loved to give gifts. She took time and pride in giving the best gifts. It was her way of showing how much she was thinking of you. This may be part of the reason she celebrated every single holiday, event or milestone. It was more opportunities to show her love. So remember that not everyone shows love in the same way, but if you are lucky enough to feel someone’s love, cherish it greatly.
6) Celebrate the little things. My Mom was the best at this. If we passed a swimming level – celebrate! If it was the day of the dead in Mexico…we should have a party for it! I love that!
7) Do things for your kids – with your time. It means more than anything money can buy. Volunteer at their school, go for a bike ride together, do crafts together, bake cookies, throw the football around. No one will ever remember how awesome it was that dad bought you an iPad or mom watched T.V. with you. But they will remember the way that you made them feel special, cherished and loved.
8) Have no regrets – don’t wait to take that trip, start that business or tell that special someone you love them – tomorrow may look very different than today. Our mom was our biggest supporter. No matter how crazy the idea would be, I can still hear her say ‘that’s a great idea! How can I help?’ She always believed in us and the notion of ‘going for it’.
9) Take care of yourself. Start today. You can do things starting now, no matter your age, your health or your lifestyle, to be a healthier and happier version of yourself.
10) Grieving is a process and is different for everyone. Respect others’ right to grieve their way and in their own time.
As sad as I am that I have lost my Mom – my son will never meet her, I will never see her warm smile or watch her laugh until she cries or go spring plant shopping with her or eat her amazing love-filled prime rib – I am so eternally grateful for the 38 years I was blessed to have her as my Mom. For not only did I have the lessons she taught me while she was here, but also those that I have learned from her passing.