I lost my mother to breast cancer on March 6, 2008. I don’t cry very often anymore, but I still miss her every day. Since my own breast cancer diagnosis, the void in my life feels even greater. I know it will be there forever.
Recently I traveled to my dad’s house for a visit and while I was there I realized I had reached a major milestone in my grieving process without even realizing it. For the first time since my mother’s death when I walked through the front door, it didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel that pain or tug at my heart. I was just home for a visit with my dad. I realized I wasn’t “looking” for Mother. I wasn’t walking around the house wistfully peering into rooms half expecting to find her there. I wasn’t brought nearly to tears while looking at her favorite things. Instead it felt good to look at her sea of books on various shelves and to hold a favorite figurine of hers in my hands.
It has taken me thirty months to reach this point of acceptance and it feels both comforting and calming to know I have arrived at this milestone. It might not seem like that great of an achievement to others, but I know that it is. It is proof to me that somewhere along the way I grew from the experience of my loss. Perhaps I even became a better person and daughter.
I’m not exactly sure when I reached the point of acceptance and I guess it doesn’t really matter. All I know is that now when I visit my dad’s house, I think of it as his house. I don’t feel quite so restless when I’m there. Instead I feel peaceful. I have acceptance.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR WAY TO ACCEPTANCE
- Follow your own feelings. Acceptance is the hardest step to reach in the grieving process and everyone has opinions on when you should get there.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to mourn your loss. You need to feel the pain. Bottling up feelings or pretending to move on too quickly will only cause more problems down the road.
- Talk about your loved one. Remembering them is honoring them.
- Seek counseling if you need it to function again, especially if other family members don’t seem to want to talk about the loss as much as you do.
- Keep busy. Go back to work when you feel ready. Do things you have always enjoyed doing. Learn something new or start exercising more. Just get busy.
- Try journaling. It’s a proven healing tool.
- Remember you will never be done grieving. Triggers like holidays, birthdays, special memories and sometimes even ordinary things will take you by surprise.
- Even though grieving continues, you will eventually reach the acceptance stage. Find comfort in that.