Four things that grief taught me about life

When we lost our mom, I felt like a tub of ice cream.

I know it’s a lame metaphor. But I exactly felt this way: The universe scooped a part of me and left there a gaping hole. That scoop can never be replaced, and thus that hole will forever be there.

The days after my mom’s passing were a drag. Words were knotted, sunups were dull, sundowns were sad. Some nights, I’d hear my eldest sister wailing “Mama” in her room. Other nights, it’d be me or my older sister albeit more quietly. My dad had to find ways to leave the house so he could cry as much tears in the car before driving back home. We all couldn’t believe that we were orphaned, irreversibly robbed off of the person who was my mom.

Motivation was at its nadir, and it dawned on me that my mom was once a source of my fire. Spaces got emptier, especially those that she used to preoccupy–her heavy handbag, her neat closet, her side of the bed. Suddenly, it felt impossible to live joyfully with those empty spaces. It felt impossible to live wholly with that gaping ice-cream-scoop shape of a hole.

However, life doesn’t stop for the bereaved. In one of my morning prayers, I mused on the truth that my mom doesn’t need us anymore. She must be running in heaven’s meadows now while we drag our feet to every part of the house. She is free from pain while we ache for our loss. She is okay, and probably, she just needs us–and wants us–to be okay, too. From that morning on, I did my best to move forward. And as I did, I learned lessons that I would’ve had not learned if I wasn’t grieving.

  1. I can find solace in the sky.
    After my mom’s passing, I felt like I could see beyond white clouds and the deep azure. Suddenly, I was certain of what’s at the end of its upward infinity–God and my mom. Every sunbeam that fell on me felt like divine caress. Pouring rain felt like holy cleansing. Gazing at stars felt like beholding God’s jewels–such visible, concrete but unreachable magnificence. I began to trust the sky and its decisions, especially that it holds eternal life in its hands–especially that it holds my mom.
  2. There is more to life than my dreams.
    Some of my mom’s dreams died before she did. She was hardworking, she dreamed big, and she was the most driven woman I knew. She had her life laid out on paper, detailing which destination should be reached at which age. I’d seen her cry over dead dreams and rejoice over fulfilled dreams. She faltered, but the goal-getter in her was too strong to declare defeat.

    Until time defeated her. “I’d like to write a book about God’s promises and His miracles in my life” was her last dream before her body rapidly appalled. This dream also died. And on her deathbed, I remember her uttering, “So this is just how life is.” At that moment, it felt like everything melted before her. And as I watched life running out of her, I realized that there was more to life than my dreams.
  3. There are pains that never fade.
    It may be the most helpless feeling on earth–losing a loved one. In life, we celebrate the truth that no one can exactly be like us. In death, we lament over the same truth. Every life lost is irretrievable, and there is no way for us to “experience” the lost person’s existence again. Everyone is irreplaceable.

    This is one of the pains that never fades. The void that my mom used to fill will always be empty. The pain will endure. But this doesn’t mean that things will never get better–they will, by God’s grace. The bereaved should only learn to live with all of it and, in the process, increase the pain threshold.
  4. Only God can give the deepest comfort.
    Nobody knows what really happens after that last breath. But I imagined my mom’s soul slipping out of her frail body along with that last force of air out of her lungs. I had an image of a bright light–which was God–outstretching its rays to her, slowly gathering her in its warm embrace. She’s already happy. She’s free from the world’s harm and troubles. She’s with an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-present God. With this belief, God suddenly feels more real to me. And knowing that my mom is with God who’s just a prayer away, I am deeply comforted.

It has only been a month since we lost our mom. The learning isn’t done yet. Days are still a drag–words still get knotted, and there are still dull sunups and sad sundowns. The grief, I think, will never be over, but the decision to keep on remains. I need to embrace this void. I need to accept that it is now part of me as much as I loved and accepted Mama as my mom. I need to continue living–live and look at the sky, live and dream right, live and ache, live and pray.

6 thoughts on “Four things that grief taught me about life

Add yours

    1. Huhu. I love what you said, “The pain will always be a reminder of the strength of your love.” Thank you, Nays! God bless you more!

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