Honoring grief

Embracing my mother’s presence and absence

There are two significant dates I need not mark down on my calendar: the day my mother took her first breath and the day she took her last. At least a week before these two dates, a deep sadness bubbles up inside of me and simmers right below the surface. I rarely understand why I feel so sad when nothing seems to be the cause. Usually, a few days before the dates I realize I’m feeling the loss of my mother.

I used believe I could run away from sadness, hoping it wouldn’t be able to catch up with me. But it always does. And honestly, maybe it should. Whenever I have tried to suppress my sadness, I have also inadvertently blocked my joy. Joy seems to be interconnected with sadness. They are like a couple dancing. When one steps forward, the other steps back.

It has been over eighteen years since my mother has passed away. We are told that time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t. Time might lessen the pain and make certain visual memories hazy, but time alone does not heal a broken heart. Accepting our emotions heals a broken heart.

Many times in my search to sidestep grief, I closed my heart. I didn’t want to face sadness because it felt like a huge abyss that once I fell into it, I wouldn’t be able to get back out of it. But every bout of sadness that I’ve experienced has come and gone.

Whenever I tried to hold back my tears, that anguish only hindered me from feeling joy. Once I allowed those tears to fall, I always felt better afterwards. The block inside of my heart felt like an accumulation of leaves and branches in a stream that were hindering water to pass. Once the obstacles were cleared, water once again flowed easily and naturally.

I have learned to honor grief by allowing myself to feel the emotions that arise inside me and to not suppress them. Honoring my grief allows me to honor my mother, which entails embracing my mother’s presence and absence in my life. Even though she is not alive, my love for her is.

One thing I have learned from grief is that my heart will break repeatedly throughout my life. I know that to love is to live. And I wouldn’t want to prevent myself from living life to its fullest by avoiding sadness. I prefer to die with a broken heart instead of a closed heart that love didn’t flow in and out of.

Expat in Florence, Italy | Fiction & Non-Fiction Writer | Blogger | Polyglot (English, French, & Italian) | Hapa | Instagrammer | www.melindagallo.com

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