The one-year anniversary of a parent’s death is a milestone for any adult child. Bearing witness to a year of "firsts" without your parent: of birthdays – yours and theirs; of holidays, big and small; of national and political events; and of family happenings; all of which would have had an impact on them and of which they would have influenced your response to, can be an emotional roller coaster.
As I conclude the one year anniversary of the death of my mother this week on July 23, I am struck by the dichotomy of how hard and how easy it has been to let go of her memory. As the ten-day period approached of the time she was admitted to the hospital to the time she died, I found myself reliving moment-by-moment what happened last year and dreading what was coming each day.
There was the call that she needed to go to an emergency room; then having her admitted to the hospital; the subsequent cancer diagnosis; then a call that she was in organ failure post-surgery; and finally the decision to bring her to The Residence of ArborHospice for the last 36 hours of an incredible life.
Physically feeling nauseated each step of the way, I had to remind myself that I knew what the outcome was this time, and I had some control. I also am astounded at how much I have learned from my mother since her death, and wish I could tell her in person how much I appreciate those lessons.
I have to acknowledge, however, that we did not have the type of relationship where I could have told her in person. I am so thankful that a week before she was admitted into the hospital, we had a half-serious phone conversation in which I acknowledged that she might have been right about something for the past thirty years – we both laughed, and moved on to another topic.
One year later, having grown in knowledge about that topic, I am grateful she had me learn about it the way she did. She was not perfect, as none of us are, but was wiser than I gave her credit for.
Now this year of mourning is over, and while we never truly are done on our grief journeys, I know that the intensity of the journey will change. Some days will be worse than others, but I know with support from family and friends who have been on this journey before me that I too will be able to remember more of the moments that bring smiles and laughter than tears.
This blog entry was written by Gloria D. Brooks, Arbor Hospice President & CEO. You may contact Gloria by commenting below or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.