The daughter dies, then a day later, her Mom.
…and our collective heart, it sighs…
We sigh because grief unties us. Death looks past our social status, our skin color, our economic situations, our religious upbringing, our sexual orientation. Death is for everyone.
It’s a bow and arrow, isn’t it? The whole thing? When the bow of life releases the arrow, it bolts past everything, before we can stop it, and in a moment our lives change. We feel pain. Instantly. It came out of no where? How did this happen?
We feel that arrow to the heart.
The inspiration for this post comes directly from the passing of Debbie Reynolds after the death of her only daughter, Carrie Fisher. Still, it has nothing to do with celebrity, but everything to do with love, loss and the physicality of grief.
“You don’t sleep when your Mom dies.Your heart races and you cannot get it to slow down. You can’t barter, beg or plead or pray hard enough to get your mind to relax because you’re in shock.
My sister told me that her body and her heart physically hurt.
The anxiety is overwhelming. It’s all-encompassing. It’s smothering. I have never, ever, felt like that in all of my life…”
I wrote that on September 20th, 7 days after my Mom died in a car accident. (The post is here.)
My baby sister’s body hurt. My body hurt. It was difficult to breathe. It felt like fifteen semi trucks had just crushed my body, my heart, my spirit, my world…
The story of a Mom dying after her daughter, the stories of husbands passing a few days after their wives of many years had died; this intense loss beautifully and tragically illustrates the intrinsic link between our physical bodies and the intense weight of death. At least it does for me… The mind/body connection is something I discovered, shockingly, during my grief and healing. The manifestation of our sadness, shock and depression into our physical bodies is real.
I remember sitting in the funeral home. The funeral director across from me, my sister to my left… the coroner standing just beyond her.
It just hurt. My body hurt.
“I asked the corner, did she feel pain? Did she languish in the car? Scared? Alone?
The coroner, a tall, stoic Bible-belt cowboy-esque gentlemen said, “I’m a straight shooter and I’ll tell you the truth… I strongly believe that your Mom didn’t suffer.”
I imagine a Mom, sitting with her remaining child at a table. It’s less than 24 hours after her daughter passed. I imagine a Mama walking through the details she never thought she’d have to think about. I imagine a Mom discussing the plans. The music. The “body” that they always refer to. I imagine a Mama straining her eyes to see through the grief and the oppressive sadness in order to make decisions regarding a situation that still doesn’t seem real.
“The coroner talked with us for at least 20-30 minutes as we digested every last detail. I asked him what she was wearing. He told us which capri pants and which shirt and I knew exactly what he was referring to; my sister did, too. We asked him how he found her body. We learned that the jaws of life were used.
He explained that given her poor health, her delicate condition, there is truly no way her body could have sustained the impact of that accident and that, by the grace of God, her life was taken quickly…”
And it hurts.
I think that sweet mama, she died of a broken heart.
A mother burying her child.
I don’t even know how to wrap my brain around that and I pray and plead to the Lord that I should never experience that. Both of my parents have died, and somehow, in my heart, I know that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Did it happen a bit earlier than I would have preferred? Um, yes. Still, the latter generation is to die before the former. Isn’t this included in the Life Handbook?
It goes like this:
1. Never wear chokers.
2. Always send Thank You notes.
3. Learn every Lionel Richie song.
4. Die in this order: Great grandparents > Grandparents > Parents > Children.
When the chain is upended, well… what happens?
The equilibrium is off. Life is askew.
It’s just not the way it’s supposed to be.
It breaks my heart that Carrie’s daughter just lost her Mom and Grandma in a 24-hour window. Still, I am thankful for love and for the people we get to love.
Truly loving someone allows us to feel the extreme pain and loss after they’re gone. And with time, sometimes so much time, our hearts begin to slowly heal and we love deeper. We love deeper becuase our hearts have ROOTS now and those roots run deep into the core of who we are.
The trick to loving deeper after loss? Feel it, friends. Feel your loss. Go through. Go through the bad parts. Don’t package them up into a little, instagram-worthy pretty picture. Open the box, go through it. Feel it.
I’m no professional grief counselor, but I’m here and I’ve loved and I’ve lost. And, chances are you’ve done the same. I don’t know the right way to grieve; nor do I believe there is a right way. I do, however, believe that grief is necessary.
Dear friends, in light of another Mom losing a daughter…
In light of another daughter losing a Mom…
In light of a brother losing a sibling and a parent. In light of the loss of a friend, a cousin, a boyfriend, a girlfriend… I wish for you a deep, intense, enduring love that is so wonderful, so full and so real that if and when it leaves you, you cry and feel it and know that you’re better for having had your person in your life.
Friends, the bonds we share are real. And they matter. They matter more than the petty argument we had this morning. They matter more than a new car. They matter more than your career. Our relationships, my dear friends, our relationships, they matter.
Much love to you all.
My heart goes out to all of you who are feeling loss and sadness.
—The Story of Loss. On Losing my Mom.
September 30, 2013 :: Slivers of Sunlight :: Post here.
October 6, 2013 :: That first week.Those first days :: Post here.
October 14, 2013 :: 14 days after :: Post here.
October 20, 2013 :: I found a treasure :: Post here.
November 4, 2013 :: She’s been gone for 4 weeks :: Post here.
November 13, 2013 :: I smile and drive and cry and smile and cry :: Post here.
November 17, 2013 :: Weekends aren’t easy :: Post here.
November 26, 2013 :: The holidays, the firsts :: Post here.
December 1, 2013 :: 8 weeks :: Post here.
December 10, 2013 :: The Dream :: Post here.
December 19, 2013 :: Vulnerability and Moving Forward :: Post here.
December 22, 2013 :: The reminders. They’re everywhere :: Post here.
December 29, 2013 :: 2013 :: Post here.
January 1, 2014 :: The New Year :: Post here.
January 7, 2014 :: 2 days from 4 months :: Post here.
January 17, 2014 :: Another Gift :: Post here.
January 25, 2014 :: She would have been 60 today :: Post here.
February 9, 2014 :: Five months :: Post here.
March 6, 2014 :: Almost six months :: Post here.
March 27, 2014 :: One of the Best Gifts Ever :: Post here.
April 1, 2014 :: We’re all in this together :: Post here.
April 24, 2014 :: 7 Months, Easter and Nope, I’m still not normal. :: Post here.
May 6, 2014 :: Mother’s Day without a Mom :: Post here.
June 1, 2014 :: Moving “forward” :: Post here.
July 6, 2014 :: Denial & acceptance & blah, blah, blah :: Post here.
August 20, 2014 :: So, I’m 35 :: Post here.
September 2, 2014 :: 7 days :: Post here.
September 8, 2014 :: The Day Before a Year :: Post here.
September 9, 2014 :: Hello, one year :: Post here.
October 11, 2014 :: The brain is funny :: Post here.
November 6, 2014 :: Love :: Post here.
November 30, 2014 :: Post here.
December 4, 2014 :: Another feather. Post here.
December 28, 2014 :: All was calm, all is bright. Post here.
January 18, 2015 :: They’re always with us? They’re always with us. Post here.
January 25, 2015 :: And today I remember. Post here.
March 8, 2015 :: A year and a half later. Post here.
April 16, 2015 :: And here I stand. Post here.
April 29, 2015 :: Joan & Shirley. Post here.
August 26, 2015 :: Perspective. Post here.
September 9, 2015 :: Two Years After. Post here.
November 1, 2015 :: Watching others go through it. Post here.
January 25, 2016 :: Happy Birthday, Mom. Post here.
March, 5, 2016 :: Air Tears. Post here.
April 26, 2016 :: Sitting Still. Post here.
December 27, 2016 :: So this was Christmas. Post here.