What My Mother’s Death Taught Me

I’ve been contemplating writing about this for a while now. Not enough time has passed, and I’m not sure there will ever be enough time that can pass, but I need to talk about it. It’s not something I want to talk about, but for the sake of myself and my husband’s ear I need to talk to someone other than my husband.


My mom died October 6th of this year. I haven’t felt the same since that day. I haven’t felt the same since I’ve watched the lifespan of the flowers from her funeral turn from a beautiful bouquet to rotten dried up leaves. That’s how I feel. Rotten and dried up.


The thing no one ever tells you about losing a parent is that it doesn’t hurt on the rainy days. The rainy days feel like home. Because that’s how you feel on the inside. At least for me anyway. The sunny days hurt the most. The days that you know they should be here enjoying the beautiful weather with you. The days you would normally be out doing something with them. Or wishing you could.


Everything reminds you of them. I am just now able to look at pictures of my mom from before she was sick. Pictures of when she was happy and full of life and not plagued with worry if her and the vessels in her brain would ever get along again. I still cry when I look at them. But at least I can look. I’ve never listened to so many sad songs and felt the pain of the people singing them. I’ve never related more. There’s a part of you that dies along with your parent when they die. My mother, the woman who gave me life. The one I lived inside of for nine months, the only one I knew when I came into this world. The one who took care of me when I was sick, who wiped my tears when I was sad, the one who always made sure I was ok after she sent me to my room, even if I was being a brat. The one who cooked me dinner and read me bedtime stories. The one I shopped with and talked to about boyfriends and friends and other girl things. The one who called Joe’s café her second home along with me. My best friend when I didn’t even realize it. She no longer exists on Earth. Joe’s café will never be the same.


Some days I feel as though she’s right behind me, or standing next to me. That she’s here but I just can’t see her. Sometimes I swear I can smell her perfume, Dolce and Gabbana ‘the one’. Or Dolce and Gabbana ‘Banana’, we called it. I always wanted to wear that perfume, but it smelled terrible on me. She was the only one I knew that could wear it and smell amazing. I miss the smell of that perfume.


Her funeral was the biggest funeral I’ve ever been to. Her wake started at 5:00 p.m. and by 5:15 the parking lot was full and people were parking on the side of the road. I hugged so many people that night that I don’t even remember any of them. My mom was loved by many. She was well known in our small town. That night I heard so many good things about my mom. How she was such a lovely person who always wore a smile. How thoughtful she was and always went out of her way to help other people. Stories of her strength and courage and her love for me and my dad flooded my ears. I feel truly blessed to have a mother like her.


Another thing I learned after hearing all of those nice things about my mom, is that when people feel bad for you they tend to put their foot in their mouths. Over and over again. I get it. I know I have put my foot in my mouth time and time again before I ever personally dealt with something like this. I can’t count how many times I heard:


“I’m so sorry, it’s such a shame to have lost your mother at 23.”


“I’m so sorry, I could never imagine losing my mom, she’s my best friend, I would be lost.”


“You were your moms only child, it must be very hard to be going through this.”


My personal favorite,


“You’re pregnant, I’m so sorry you have to be going through this right now.”


I get it. People are just searching for something to be able to relate to you. A way of trying to tell you that you’re not alone and that they are here for you. I understand. I did that too before I knew what it was like to go through it. I want everyone who reads this to know for future reference, most people who go through something like this don’t want a fake relation. If you have been through it then by all means, try and relate to me. But if you haven’t then please don’t tell me you understand because there is no possible way that you do.


And that’s ok, I don’t want you to understand. I hope you never have to understand what it’s like to lose your mother. Or lose your mother at 23. Or be your mother’s only child. Or lose your mother while you’re pregnant. It’s a terrible thing to go through but I’m going through it and there’s nothing I can do or anything anyone can say to change it.


Unfortunately, it was just a part of my life and I know my mother wouldn’t want me sitting here dwelling over things I can’t change.


I wish more than anything my mother could still be here. I wish she didn’t have to suffer at the end of her life. I wish she didn’t have to suffer the whole last year of her life. I wish she could see my children grow up. I pray that my daughter doesn’t lose the memories she has of her as she grows up. I wish I didn’t have to tell the baby I’m pregnant with about her, I wish he or she could meet his grandma and know her. I wish I didn’t have to see my dad lose the one person he loved more than anything on this planet. I wish I didn’t have to see him be alone now. I wish I didn’t have to see him plagued with pain even though he says he’s fine. I wish I didn’t have dreams of her still being alive every night just to wake up and realize that they aren’t real every morning. I wish I didn’t have to be an only child at 23, who is pregnant, who just lost her mother and best friend. But life doesn’t give a shit about what we wish or what we want.


Life doesn’t care about who the person is, how close they were to family or friends, or whether they were alone. It doesn’t care about the good or bad the person did during their life. It doesn’t care if your black, white, brown, yellow, blue, green, or purple. It doesn’t care if your democrat or republican. It doesn’t care if the person was suffering or in completely good health. Life doesn’t care. We all have a time. We all have a day that we’ll meet our maker.


Death brings a lot to the table. It opens flood gates of emotion. It can bring families close together, or it can make them drift apart. It can break someone or it can awaken strength in people. Even though I feel like I’m broken, this whole last year of standing on the edge of death with my mother until it finally got its way, awoken a strength in me that I didn’t know I had. I love harder now. I try my hardest to appreciate things more. Even small things. I’m more thankful for what I have more than envious of what I don’t have. I have a stronger faith in God. I don’t ever let a person walk away from me without letting them know how much they mean to me now. I feel like I’ve really been humbled. On the contrary to what people may think, I feel more alive. I feel real again. I wish it didn’t have to be at the expense of my mom but part of me feels as if she is the one who did this for me. She knew I would have to take care of my family, and my dad. That I wouldn’t have time to just cry all day like I’ve wanted to since the day she died. That I wouldn’t have time to feel dried up and rotten for the rest of my life. She always knew what to do. I feel like she passed that on to me.


I urge you all to love you mothers. Love your fathers. Love everyone in your life as much as you can and as hard as you can because like I said earlier, life doesn’t give a shit about your feelings or what you want. Don’t let anyone in your life walk away from you without them knowing how much they mean to you, because one day you might not be able to tell them. Appreciate the small things. Appreciate the sunny and rainy days. Appreciate the fact that even if you’re not in the best health, you’re still alive. Life is measured by the people and blessings you have. No person or blessing is too small.


“Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,

I am the fields of ripening grain.

I am in the morning hush,

I am in the graceful rush

Of birds in circling flight.

I am the star shine of the night.

I am the flowers that bloom,

I am in a quiet room,

I am the birds that sing,

I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there,

I did not die.”

Sarah and her husband live in Michigan with their daughter. She loves make up and has a thing for honesty. You can find her on Instagram at livenrealgood. Read her other pieces: 

Dear Mom & Dad, I’m Sorry

Know When To Leave.


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11 Responses

  1. This was very well written. You’re right, the pain doesn’t leave it just becomes a part of the new you. You learn to live with it because you must. My mom has been gone 11 years now and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could call her.
    I’m sorry for your loss.

  2. Audra Zelmer

    Sending strength Sarah! I lost my mom at 18 and can relate to a lot of what you’ve said. It’s still hard 9 years later. If you ever need someone else’s ear to talk into, as someone who understands a lot of what you’re going through, I’m here. ♥️♥️

    1. thank you for this – best damn article i have read regarding this. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those phrases through the loss of my parents and sister. thank you dom <3

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