My mother died on Christmas Eve. I could say she died in late December, but acknowledging that it happened in the evening on Christmas Eve captures the wince those who loved her feel when we think about it.

My mother faced a lifetime of physical challenges. She had an early childhood illness that doctors then theorized weakened her spine and contributed to her developing severe scoliosis in adolescence. She had significant physical repercussions as a result of the disease – effective ways of treating it had not yet been discovered when she was an adolescent, which is when it must be addressed. She had an S-curve in her spine and uneven hips, shoulder blades, and rib cage.

When I was a child, I didn’t see any of this when I looked at her. I thought she was beautiful. As an adult, I of course knew the physical manifestations were there, but I still didn’t really see them. They were just part of Mom. And I still thought she was beautiful.

For the last 20 years of her life, scoliosis did the most devastating damage of all – her skeletal frame began to collapse on her heart and lungs, causing even more limitations, pain, and impairment that eventually caused her body to give out. She once was 5′ 11″, and was only 5′ 3″ at the end of her life. She lived to be almost 83 years old, and fifteen years longer than any doctor ever believed she would.

My mother’s defining characteristic was persistence. While scoliosis was ever present, she did her best to not let it define her. Even when it did.

It’s not hard to imagine that body image was something she grappled with. And that her experience shaped mine. That’s something for later, though. Right now, grief is in the driver’s seat.

The last chapter of my mom’s life was a struggle. We were all enormously relieved that at last she was no longer struggling, no longer in pain, no longer having to fight. But that doesn’t lessen the grief of her physical absence.

Grief has made me feel disconnected and fractured. I’m distracted, forgetful, and unfocused. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m weary. And yet, I still have a child and husband and home, a father who is also grieving and needs his children’s care and support, and work that I love and feel like I’m ignoring.

All I want to do is lie around and watch tv, eat, and be under covers. And yet, see above. I was a little blindsided by this. My mom’s death wasn’t a surprise, so I should have been prepared, right? No.

I’m realizing that you can’t prepare for or ignore grief. You can’t push it to the side to deal with later. It just is and will be. And you do what you can within it. Things will keep.

When something big and difficult happens, it’s easy to abandon self-care. And that’s when it’s most important to practice it. There’s no prescribed way to do that – just acknowledge you need it and give yourself permission to not be at your best.

I’ve been completely roadblocked with writing for my blog. And I realized that what I needed was to take a break, and then write about this. Because this is me right now.

I’m glad you are at peace, Mom. I’ll get there too.




28 thoughts on “grief

  1. Oh, Nancy. I am so sorry to hear of your mom’s dying. …so sorry to hear of your grief…What lovely photos of her and you together….what lovely smiles she had….what a strong woman she was, to endure so much for so long. I know that you know this, but it is worth saying over and over….take in all the comfort , all the embraces…all the love that is here in this world for you…

  2. So I’m crying right now in the orthodontist’s office having read this. It’s beautiful. And heart wrenching. And so you, Nancy. I hope you can take the time to care for yourself. And stay under the covers for as long as you need. We’ll all still be here when you’re ready to come up for air. Xoxo

  3. Thank you for sharing so authentically from your heart Nancy, and for the opportunity for us to celebrate your mom’s life with you.

  4. Nancy, I understand. I empathize. I still get weepy 3 years after my mom’s passing and 2 years since my dad and mother-in-law passed in the same week. They are forever in our minds and souls. I have to keep reminding myself that the ache is there to help me remember the love we shared. Thinking of you.

  5. Dear Nancy…you really express so well what grief and the transition thru loss is all about. I do understand and care about you. Thanks so much for sharing this news and how you are doing. 🙋💕 nan

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your mother, and such an eloquent and moving account of your grief. Thank you for sharing it. I’m so sorry for your loss. May you and your family gain strength and peace, in the amount you need.

  7. Oh Nancy, your pain is something we all share, just in different ways. Your mom was beautiful in every way. I don’t think I ever saw her without a smile on her face. She never met a stranger. Could you send me your dad’s mailing address to I want to send a note, but I don’t have his “winter” address. I’ll have all of you in my prayers. My mom died almost twenty years ago this month, and I still miss her everyday.

  8. Hi Nancy, I so identify with what you’ve written and it was very helpful. Glad you are trying to take care of yourself and hope you will continue to do that.

  9. Nancy: This is such a hard place in which to be. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances, loss is loss is loss. When you love someone a little part of your heart goes with them. The beauty is that your heart grows a new stronger, more gentle piece. It is a piece you can share with others. And the benefit, is the person who left remains a part of you forever and ever. Lots of hugs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s