I worked a funeral luncheon this week. A young 35 year old mom unexpectedly passed away. She leaves behind a husband and three young children: 13, six and three years old. One word? Heartbreaking. As I refilled sandwich trays, stocked the dessert trays, and watched this young family, I was transported back to my mom’s funeral.
For me, the funeral was easy. I am in no way making light of my mom’s death. But as an 11 year old, it was easy to put on a smile, and be surrounded by people showering me with attention. There was food. And more food. There were folks making small talk, asking if you needed anything. There were walks around the funeral home grounds with my bestie, Liz. There was love all around me.
The hardest part of losing my mom came in the quiet. After the hustle and bustle of the funeral, the cards and visits dwindled. No one outside of my family talked about mom anymore. If I could go back to being an 11 year old motherless girl, knowing what I know now, here’s what I’d ask for:
Stories – Silly or serious, give me stories about my mom. If you don’t mind, write them down for me. I may not fully appreciate them at this moment, but I will cherish them later. I’ll take mom stories months or years later, too.
Talk – Just because she’s gone, doesn’t mean she should be forgotten. Please don’t assume that she’s too hard to talk about, and that healing equals ignoring.
Journey – Losing a parent as a child is not a journey often traveled. Who can prepare for something like this? I can’t. But at the end of the day, I just want to be like my friends. I want to take one day at a time. And while this is an important piece of my life story, I don’t want to be defined by my loss. I’d like it if you treat me like Sally next door.
If you could go back in time during a challenging period of your life, what would you ask for?