By Latrice Sampson, LPC-S NCC, Guest Blogger
Few connections are as colossally fulfilling as that between a mother and her daughter. As women, we share experiences that only other women can understand, and we turn to our mothers to help us figure it all out. She taught you how to comb your hair, how to make the perfect rue for your first gumbo, and how to take on the weight of the world and look good doing it. Even if she could never quite live up to your expectations of what a mother should be, she played an important role in the development of your own voyage into womanhood. From spa days to mad day, Mama is and will always be the pinnacle of what it means to be a real woman.
Grieving the loss of a loved one is never an easy feat. Especially difficult is the loss of the one person who actually gave you life – Mama. No matter how old you are or how you’ve perceived your relationship, losing your mother is an experience that has a significant impact on your life – at the time of your loss and well into the future. While it may never be easy, here are a few tips to help lighten that burden.
1. Be patient.
When my maternal grandmother passed away in 2012, I watched as my mother and her siblings began to receive countless phone calls, cards, emails, text messages, and letters saying, “Feel better, soon” and “Let’s get together, soon”, and “It’ll all be over, soon.” The one question I kept asking was: “What’s the rush?” The grief process is an extremely personal and individual experience. Everyone moves through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) in their own way, on their own time; you are no exception. It is imperative that you allow yourself the time you need to move through this journey appropriately, so that you can truly settle those feelings and begin to live life again. By the same token, it is equally important that you allow those in your life who may also be mournful the freedom they need to process what this loss means for them. Your mother was many things to many people, and they have the right to grieve in their own way, whether you agree with it or not.
2. Take ownership of your journey.
It is completely “normal” for someone to experience negative emotions, such as sadness, depression, anxiety, frustration, anger and guilt in grieving the loss of a loved one. As we have already discussed, it is likely that you may feel pressured to move through these emotions as quickly as possible, but give yourself permission to experience the reality of your loss. What you are feeling is real, and it is valid. You don’t have to wipe those tears away and put on a strong face. It is not necessary for you to “stay busy” and “make sure everybody else is okay.” Taking ownership of your journey means accepting that there is a long, tedious path ahead that you may or may not be able to handle on your own. It means being honest with yourself about where you are and what you need. Most importantly, it means allowing yourself to be strong enough to ask for help in the midst of your vulnerability. Only then can your journey truly begin.
3. Remember, Mama!
The way you perceive a situation is paramount in how you prepare for and manage that situation once it’s upon you. The loss of a mother is no different. Those who have the most difficulty in dealing with this loss struggle because all they can see is the end of one of the most important relationships they have ever known. But the reality is that death is the loss of a life, not the loss of a relationship. The bond between mother and daughter is not one that can be easily broken. Though she may no longer be here in the flesh, her legacy lives on in your memories, in your heart, and in your being. That is something worth celebrating!
For those who are missing their mother, it is my sincere hope that you can find your way to solace and understanding. Though it may never be easy, it can get easier over time.
Latrice Sampson, LPC-S NCC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, National Certified Counselor and owner of Sampson Therapeutic Services, LLC. She specializes in individual and group therapy for children and families and provides supervision to master’s level psychology professionals in the completion of their state licensing requirements. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and currently sits on the Young Leadership Council Board of Directors for the second consecutive year.