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Grieving My Mother

Navigating the loss of a parent.

Stephanie Sarkis PhD
Source: Stephanie Sarkis PhD

My mother died in April. Having a parent die is like losing a piece of yourself. As Craig Ferguson said when eulogizing his father,

"And the relationship that I had…I have with my father is not unlike the relationship I have with my home country – with Scotland. I complain about it. I grumble about it. I can be mean about it sometimes, but I love it beyond reason. It’s where I’m from. It’s what I am."

My mother is a such a huge part of who I am. I realize that so much more so now that she's gone. My mother and I (had) have a love of the Post-it note. I was sorting through her things when I ran across an organized bin of her sunglasses. Attached to one case of sunglasses was a Post-it that read, "You can see all the way through to the bottom with these. Expensive." Thanks, Mom. (She was an avid fisherman - I did not inherit this gene or her shopping gene.) And even when she got really sick, she still used Post-its to label items in her dresser drawers. Hold on to this. This is important.

I realize now what a gift it was that she was preparing us for her death and the details afterwards. She had a black notebook, which I referred to as her "Death Book". She had printed out from online what flowers she wanted on her casket and the flowers she wanted next to the visitation book at her funeral. And instructions to not to get carnations in the rose spray for her casket. "Those are just filler", she wrote on the print-out. So I substituted roses for the carnations. Not sure if that was her intention, but she deserved the best.

When she was going through her things one day, pointing out to me what was my grandmother's, what jewelry had special significance, I said, "Mom, we don't need to do this right now." She replied, "I know how difficult it was for me after my mom died, knowing this stuff now will help you when I'm gone." And it really has. To be able to look death in the eye and say, "Hold on, I still need to tell my kids some stuff," takes guts. And it was an incredible gift she gave us.

Every day I have questions I want to ask my mother. What was the name of that perfume grandma wore? Where is your goulash recipe? I still wake up some mornings thinking that I need to call her about something. I know with time that feeling will fade - the forgetting that she is gone. But right now I just wish I had her back.

Read more about my mom here: Janice Moulton (1946-2015)
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