Recently, I woke up one morning feeling sad with a heaviness on my heart. This morning felt different from every other morning. I couldn’t figure out why there was a heaviness I couldn’t shake off. I told myself I would feel better if I got up and started the day.
Starting the day didn’t change how I was feeling though.
I, then, decided that praying would turn this sadness around. I would immediately feel better because, of course, prayer changes things, right?
Unfortunately, not even prayer made me feel better that day.
The most unsettling part about all of this was that I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way in the first place. Why did I wake up with such an overwhelming heaviness in my heart? Did I have a bad dream and couldn’t shake it off? I began to tell my best friend about this sadness I was suddenly feeling, and in that moment of our conversation, she quickly stated, “Could it be because your mom’s birthday is approaching soon?” I realized she was probably right. I began trying to recall if I felt this sad last year for her birthday, but for some reason this year felt different than the last two years. As the day went on, I found myself crying uncontrollably at my desk just thinking about her. If I could be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve cried like that thinking about my mom. I honestly couldn’t tell you one good reason why this year was different than the last two for me, but there are a couple contributing factors to this extra dose of sadness this time around. After all, this year hasn’t been the greatest for a lot of us and dealing with a global pandemic in the middle of a journey through grief would be hard for anyone.
I didn’t expect to feel this sad and heavy this year though. Honestly, I was preparing my emotions and feelings for her birthday. I tried to tell myself I would be fine because this is the third birthday without her being here to be celebrated. I definitely was stronger now than I was then, right? This question helped me learn my biggest lesson: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to prepare yourself to not miss a person you lost. I realized nothing can prepare you for their birthday or a special holiday and it’s self-sabotage to even try. No matter how long ago you may have lost that person, the feeling of grief will never fully go away. That day I gave myself the space to be sad and to say I’m not okay. I went to bed earlier than normal that night. I even cried before falling to sleep. I remember telling myself “Ashley, you’re weeping now, but joy will come in the morning.” When I woke up the next morning, I actually felt better– lighter, even. The heaviness was gone.
What I learned from that day was to stop putting a time limit on my grief. I’ve heard this said so many times throughout this grief process, yet it didn’t hit me until now. I will never be able to fully control my feelings, and that’s completely okay. I also learned that giving myself the space to cry and say I’m not okay was needed more than in that moment ever before. I didn’t stop the tears and I didn’t try to stop the emotions that came that day. After battling with them all morning, I decided to embrace them.
So now when my mother’s birthday actually comes, I will allow whatever emotion or feelings I have to just come. I know that whatever may happen, I will celebrate her and remember all the great memories that we had when she was here. I still have moments of sadness and grief, because as I always say grief is a process. I’m still learning even in the midst of my process and it doesn’t mean I’m not healing or I’m not strong. This moment has taught me my grieving process has no care for my time limit and there’s no sense in trying to contain it to one either.
Happy Birthday, MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love and miss you like crazy.
Ashley- Healing Daughters