My mom was fifty-three when she passed away.
I’m forty-eight, and I’ve been working through this peculiar fear about being almost the same age my mom was when she passed.
I’m not looking for answers or asking why she passed. I’m just working through this latest chapter of life stuff out loud as I get closer to this looming (yet arbitrary) number.
My sister and I experienced something similar, first when her son turned sixteen, then my daughter turned sixteen two years later.
They both outlived our older brother, who died in a car crash when he was fifteen.
We talked about the relief we felt for this strange milestone. It felt miraculous that we could be parents of children that lived longer than our older sibling.
It seemed like a million years away from where I was when she passed away. I was twenty-seven. I still have a few years to go, but this dang recurring fear started nudging me around the forty-three years mark, so I had to stare it down and figure out how to make it not scary.
Or less scary.
Mind over matter, as they say. (Easier said than done, sometimes.)
So, here’s how I’ve been working through the stuff.
Understanding the Power of Grief
Grief can make you cry a lot. It can consume thoughts, affect behavior, and manifest in physical symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, or difficulty sleeping. It can make you a different person. And it can strike when you’re not expecting it.
It’s OK to let some of these things run a course.
I also believe it’s OK to push back on grief now and then. Because, like anything that may go unchallenged, it can take over if allowed.
In my own experience, every loss has hit differently than the previous one.
Throughout my life, I’ve messed up. I’ve hurt people. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I don’t mean to use grief as an excuse for any of that. My point is that while grief can have some adverse outcomes, it can also have some positives. I’ve done a lot of work to leverage the power of grief to process my emotions…