May 29, 2017

10 Bitter Truths About Losing Your Mom

Seven years ago, I woke up on the first day of summer before freshman year of high school. It should have been the start of an amazing summer. Instead, it was the start of the most traumatic moment of my life. I was in the downstairs of my house when I heard my mom call for me. She sounded distressed and I remember my first thought being "What did I do now? I just woke up".  I wish I had just been in trouble. However, when I went upstairs to see what she wanted I didn't see an angry mother, I saw a panicked one who was struggling to breathe. 

She wanted me to help her to the shower because she thought a shower would help her feel refreshed. I asked if she wanted me to call for an ambulance, but she told me absolutely not to (My father had just started working at a new company and we weren't signed on with the insurance yet). With her arm draped around my shoulder we walked halfway to the bathroom before she said she wanted to go back to bed. We turned around and began back to her bed. When we arrived at the side of the bed, she stopped breathing and lost consciousness. At that moment I screamed bloody murder for my sister who was home from college. 

We called 911.

Luckily, we live directly in front of a fire station so an ambulance was at our house in 30 seconds (I kid you not). The EMTs were able to get her conscious for a few minutes, enough for her to tell them what was wrong. Then her heart stopped the first time, and that was the last time I ever heard my mom.

Early on May 30th, after a long day and night in the ICU, my mom passed away from a massive pulmonary embolism and life changed forever. 

Losing my mother at 14 was harder than most people realize. In the seven years since her death, I've learned some pretty bitter truths about losing a mom as a teenage girl.  I wanted to make a post to share them, maybe to help people understand the loss. 

  1. There will be a lot of people offering to help at first, and then there will be no one: I think this was by far the hardest part of losing my mother for me.  When she first passed away, so many people offered to help me anytime I needed it, and for the first few months, they meant it too. Unfortunately, as the months progressed, fewer and fewer people offered to help. My sister was off at college and my father traveled quite a bit for his job as well as worked a second job at night. This left me completely alone and often trying to fend for myself.  As frustrating as this is, I do think it taught me independence and I am thankful for the few people who did help.
  2. People forget you're grieving: After a while, people just become oblivious to your pain. Life goes on, and people have their own problems to attend to. That's fine, its natural, but don't discount your grief. Even if it has been 6 months, it is still legitimate.
  3. You'll feel like you're missing out: As I continued through high school I was immensely jealous of so many of the girls. They had their mom to go prom dress shopping with, to talk about boys with, to show them how to do makeup, to be a "dance mom" (or twirl mom in my case), and to make sure they always looked nice.  My dad is a good father, but he didn't understand the "girly" stuff which meant I just didn't do it. I'd trade anything to have my mom to go dress shopping with. Anything. 
  4. Jealousy: I hate to say it, but jealousy has played such a large role in my life since my mom passed away despite my best efforts. I'm jealous of all the people who still have their parents, I'm jealous of the people who lost a parent but still have large support systems, I'm jealous of all the missed opportunities, I'm jealous of my sister who had my mom through high school, and I'm jealous of the kids whose mom's helped them with college.
  5. There will be people who want to one-up you with their relationship with her: As crazy as it sounds I have heard "you didn't know her like I did"  numerous times over the past 7 years. It hurts to hear because, on one hand, she was my mother, of course I knew her, and on the other hand, they did have more years with her. 
  6.  People will talk bad about their own mother in front of you: I understand everyone has arguments with their parents, and that not everyone sees eye to eye with their mom, but there is a time and place for everything. I honestly don't want to hear you diss your mom who so obviously loves you. Heck, I'd give anything just to ARGUE with my mom again. 
  7. When you experience your first heart break, you're gonna wanna call her: Twice this past semester, I just wanted to call and get comfort and advice from my mom. The fact that I couldn't only made the broken heart more painful.
  8. You wonder if she'd be proud: I'm not the same person I was when she passed away. I was at the beginning of my teenage years when she passed, and now I'm a legal adult with one year of my twenties under my belt. I always wonder if she'd be proud of my academic accomplishments, of my survival in Minnesota, of the friendships I've made, or if she'd find me pretty. It's easy to say "Of course she would", but the truth is, I'll never really know.
  9. Losing your biggest cheerleader: Moms are almost always their kid's biggest supporter. My mother was no exception. After losing her, I felt like I had no one cheering me on anymore. That my accomplishments went unseen by everyone. Honestly, I still feel like that sometimes, but I know there are a few people out there who support me. 
  10. It does get easier, but there are still extremely hard days: They say time heals all wounds, and it is true for the most part. Seven years later, and I've learned to adjust and get used to life without my mom. There are still days, however, that make me miss her. You'd think holidays would be the hardest, but they aren't. It's the random day that just reminds you of a small memory that is painful. 
Losing a parent when you're young is hard, but I'm grateful for the time I did have my mom. She instilled in me values that I hope I live by as best as I can. Despite all the bitter realities that come from losing a parent, there are a few silver lining that the tragic experience has given me. I'm more independent, I'm great at doing housework, I try to have greater empathy for people (not always successful but I try), and I value life more than I did before. I take comfort in knowing that one day I will see my mom again, and it will be like no time has passed at all. 

"Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is remaking of life". - Anne Roiphe

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