Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Yesterday, as I scrolled through Facebook, I saw the usual: banter, a barrage of photos and videos, memes, ads, and status updates. It’s the latter that caught my attention; specifically a post from a dear friend. We haven’t seen each other except for digitally in a few years, but we stay connected. She holds a special place in my heart, and whenever my thoughts turn to her, I smile. Recently, she lost her “Mum” as she lovingly refers to her, and my heart breaks for her. Having been there myself a few years ago, I feel compassion for her.

But, what struck me the most, was the pain in her words and the desire to not only make sense of her grief but also to make peace with it — someday. She ended her post with an apology for her negativity, but it didn’t seem that way. Instead, when I read her raw yet tender words, I saw a friend with a broken heart; someone whose pain, loss, regret, and guilt are beating at her heart’s broken door — pulsating with every breath. She was naked at that moment, and I admired her brevity for giving in to her vulnerability.

She has been on my mind since then.

All at once, I wanted to hug her tightly and tell her, “dear friend, it is okay.”

Better with the written word during times like these, this is for you, my dear friend.

Dear Friend, it is okay:
To feel mad or sad or troubled.
To not know whether to turn right or turn left.
To be distraught and to feel overwhelmed.
To not know what to do next or even how to take the next step. You WILL figure it out eventually.

Dear Friend, it is okay:
To feel like your world is upside down and that everything you knew is now, suddenly, different. It’s going to be, and some days this may be the hardest part.

Dear Friend, it is okay:
To want to curl up with a soft blanket, a hot cup of tea, your pup, and your favorite read. SHE would want you to take care of you.

Dear Friend, it is okay:

To say “the hell with it” or “f- off” or whatever expletive or non-expletive you so choose because it is your choice. Even if it is under your breath, yelled into your pillow, or directed at your beloved. It is your prerogative to let it out in whatever manner you deem fit.

And, trust me, those closest to you who understand you are dealing with a significant loss will get it. Those that don’t, well, you need to do you.

Dear Friend, it is okay:
To reflect on the guilt, the regret, and the ‘what have you.’ It is okay to call yourself out on the should have, would have, could have. But, please promise me that you will reconcile with it too. SHE would want that and my friend, I know you want that also.
To take your time with whatever it is, YOU need to do — as you acknowledged — one step at a time or even a minute at a time if you need to.
To cry, to scream, to dance naked or clothed, or even to sit in silence whenever and for however long you need to. We ALL grieve differently and at our own pace — and that is perfectly okay too.

But, my dear friend, I learned it is okay to ask for help too — even if it is a private conversation between you and whispers in the wind. Often it carries the remedy we so desire.

Dear Friend, it is okay:
To heal, to laugh, and to be happy — when you are ready.

But most of all, my dear friend, it is okay not to be okay. It is even more okay to do it on your terms. YOU control your heart, your emotions, your healing. For anyone to put a timer on this is simply unfair.

Dear friend, I won’t tell you that working through your grief will be an easy process. It could very well tear you apart, but it could also build you up. There were days it left me trembling, but I am stronger now.

It will be what it will be — for you.

Dear Friend, I’m not going to say I know how you feel because I’m not you.

But I have experienced profound loss and here’s what I can share with you from my experience with losing my mom:

My heart misses her every day, but she is alive in me. Even on the darkest of days when heaviness weighs me down, she’s there encouraging me to fight.

When I have a terrible day, and it feels like no one understands, I miss her deeply. She was my rock and always knew what to say — even if I didn’t want to hear it.
Contrary to that, when I have a great day, I miss her even more. But, I’ve learned to talk to her, and I’m sure she’s listening.

I feel her presence in many places: the soft swoosh of the wind, the brightest star at night, the mist that looms over the marsh on an early morning run, and always in the warmth of the sunshine.

When storms are raging, and the thunder cracks so loud I jump, I remember that it is the angels bowling and that she is one of them.

I see her in my brothers, nieces, and nephew — and sometimes it stops me in my tracks. Then, I smile.

I still grieve. My heart still aches from time to time, and sometimes I can’t talk about my mom without getting choked up.

There have been days when I see that bright star or feel the warmth of the sun, and I turn my head and try desperately to hold back my tears because I am simultaneously reminded of my loss and comforted by her memory.

As I write this, I stop to take a sip of sparkling water because I feel the knot in my throat and the tears beginning to well in my eyes. But it is okay. It is good to remember loved ones lost — always.

My dear friend, it’s been five years since her passing and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her deeply. At first, I felt like an empty well echoing, but now I’ve been pulled up: stronger, healthier, and healing.

I am a better person for having been her daughter and been the recipient of such unconditional love.

When my sadness takes over, which sometimes it does, I don’t try to fight it anymore. Instead, I give into it. I feel every damn ounce of it, and then I let it go.

Each day I remind myself that she would want me to heal and to live for today.

Each day I am grateful that in my sorrow and loss, she guided me to this: writing.

I learned that death is a chance for rebirth.

Sometimes death brings us together. Sometimes it tears us apart.

Grief, regret, and guilt are not easy paths. They may even tear us apart. Break us into a million tiny pieces. But they can also make us whole again; albeit put together slightly differently than before.

My dear friend, I wish I could take away your pain. But we are led to it and through it for reasons we don’t often understand. It is the circle of life, I suppose. I was never so angry, so heartbroken, so silly, so, well, so many things as I was when my mom passed. Here I can finally make some sense and peace with it. While my heart still feels her loss, it is filled with her memory and presence — with each breath, with each laugh, with each tear.

I love you, my dear friend and I am here for you.