My mother battled cancer for less than three years before the disease took over her body. We assumed that the cancer cells would not stand a chance against chemotherapy, considering the doctor managed to detect cancer early. She also took the correct medicine and did everything that the doctors ordered.
However, no one could ever prepare you for the grief that you would experience once loved ones passed away. It genuinely felt like a part of my heart died, too. Despite that, I did not want to end up in a mental hospital—Mom would have rolled in her grave if that happened.
Instead, I looked for various ways to hold on to my mental health while still grieving.
Look For Reasons To Laugh
Whenever I used to go to funerals, I was weirded by family members who sometimes laughed with their guests. Granted, it was post-burial, and they said that their dearly departed wouldn’t have wanted to see them sad, but it still felt awkward.
When my mother died, though, I finally understood why those people laughed. My chest felt significantly lighter after laughing at my cousin’s jokes. For a moment, I almost forgot that I was at a funeral. It was an incredible thing because all I did before was cry and mope around. If Mom were alive, she would have told me, “You should laugh some more, dear. I don’t want you to be too sad because of me.”
Remember The Deceased During Their Prime
The memorial service that I got for my mother was kind enough to set up an hour-long eulogy for her. So, I invited her former colleagues and our closest relatives to talk about their fondest memories with Mom.
On my part, I was too scared to go up on the stage to give a speech about her. It was more because I had never been to a eulogy before, so I feared messing up the solemn occasion because of my stupidity.
Luckily, I was the last one to talk, so I learned from the folks who went before me. Their stories about Mom focused mostly on her prime years before she got diagnosed with cancer. An aunt even said my mother caused her to get ear cartilage piercing at 45. Though she was annoyed about it at first, she considered it as a happy memory now.
I followed her lead and recalled the many times when it was just me and Mom against the world. Though crying was inevitable, I shed some tears of joy for having a wonderful mother.
Accept The Death
If you have heard of the several stages of grief, you probably know that the last step is acceptance. They say that you need to deal with various emotions before you can feel the latter. They say that’s the healthiest way to overcome the death of a loved one. My beef with this idea, though, was that no one told me that it was easier to grieve if I accepted my mother’s death first.
How did I come to that conclusion, you might ask?
Well, I had been feeling depressed ever since the doctor said that Mom had a few weeks to live. I did not want to accept that she could honestly pass away and live me alone in this world because the thought was too painful to bear. And when it happened, I almost didn’t want to go home or look at her in the casket.
Once I accepted that my mother was already gone, everything seemed to come into focus. I knew what to do with my life; I felt brave to see Mom and check if her makeup was even. Our relatives asked what changed, and my simple reply was, “I felt enlightened.”
Stay Away From Loved One’s Belongings For As Long As Necessary
After the burial, my aunts encouraged me to go through Mom’s belongings at home and pack everything I wanted to send to Good Will. Knowing my mother’s character, she would love to see that we did not throw away her things and that they all went to the less fortunate folks all over the city. Nevertheless, I declined when they offered to help me pack on that same night.
While I already accepted that Mom would no longer come back in this lifetime, I still wanted to bawl every time I thought of going through her possessions. After all, it was one thing to see her getting buried six feet under the ground. It was another thing to relive the memories that came with every item in her house. I waited until her 40th death day before I did the task, considering that’s when I realized that holding on to her belongings was too childish.
My newfound purpose in life was to counsel individuals who had a tough time accepting a loved one’s death. It was not always easy, but it was worth it. Not only did I manage to save my mental health, but I also became instrumental in saving others. What more could I ask for?