It’s been six months since I lost my son. Never before have six months felt so long. Never before has so much life happened in a year.
While I am still very much in the throes of grief, there is so much I have learned in this short journey. I have had the privilege of forming bonds with some of the strongest of women, and through those, we have walked this ugly, heart-wrenching road together and hand-in-hand.
I have learned so many lessons through these bonds that I desperately want newly bereaved mothers and those close to them to know.
1. Feel all the feels.
Cry. Mourn. It’s okay for your to feel cynical and bitter and bruised. It’s okay for your to feel hurt and frustrated. You can be angry at life. You can be angry at God. You can be angry at people (see point #2). It’s also to okay to feel happy and joyful. Don’t be afraid of that and don’t try to fake your emotions— even to yourself.
2. Expect people to inadvertently upset you.
People will say things that are very upsetting. Just prepare yourself. By and large, they don’t mean to hurt. They will generally have good intentions, they’ll just be misguided. One tip? Find someone to laugh with about the infuriating things people say. It’s okay to feel like life isn’t fair. It’s actually natural. Feel your anger, because once you do, you can move through it.
3. Don’t be surprised when you just don’t care.
About your appearance. About little problems. You’ll watch as the everyday nuances that used to consume your time disappear. It’s okay to only shower once a week. It’s okay to gain a few pounds. When you are in the throes of grief, you need to focus on the big things like staying sane, and let the other things slide.
4. You will hate social gatherings.
Anything involving small talk and empty chatter will drive you crazy. You will receive unsolicited advice regarding your grief, hear complaints about everyday problems, and all you will probably be able to think about will be finding somewhere to hide— bathroom stalls, back rooms, your car. Give yourself freedom to take breaks without guilt.
5. It will make people uncomfortable, but don’t stop talking about your child.
They were here. They were real. They are still your child. You are still their mother. No matter how uncomfortable it makes people to see your pain, don’t let that force you into hiding. The ones who matter will take you fully as you are, pain and rough edges and tears and all.
6. Heal on your own timetable.
No one can tell you to move on. No one can put grief on a timeline. You are a unique person, and your experience is also unique. Pursue healing at all times and in small ways. Find someone you can trust to talk with. Seek counseling. Partake in healthy, stress reducing habits. Lean on your faith. Put your grief toward a positive end. Note: Please never be afraid to take take medication when depression and anxiety creep in. You have just gone through one of the hardest experiences in this world, give yourself a break. At least half of the grieving moms I know have needed medication at one time or another.
7. You are never alone.
Find a group of moms that know. They are out there. Find people you can be brutally honest with. I truly believe the healing happens when we drop the facade. Be honest. Be you. Find people who get it. If you need a group, I will welcome you into mine.
8. Keep loving that child, no matter what.
There is no love I have seen on this earth that best demonstrates unconditional and unfailing love than the love of a bereaved mother for her children. It’s a love that is stronger than death. It’s a love that continues whether they are in your arms or not.
If you are a grieving mother, know that you are never alone. You are so brave. You are so strong. You are doing a good job.
This post originally appeared on Scribbles and Crumbs.