I lost my mother and only parent when I was 19. She had been battling metastatic breast cancer for four years, but kept defying the doctors’ expectations so when she actually died, it was a shock.
The grief at the beginning was due to losing her: how will I survive without a parent? How will I get through being tossed into the deep-end of adulthood without a life-jacket; navigating the world on my own; missing her?
With the passing years, I’ve managed to figure much of that out, well, to some extent anyway. In the midst of my quarter life crisis as I creep into my late twenties, I have noticed that my grief has developed into a whole other animal.
As a young woman, I want to talk to my Mum about heartbreak, career choices, fitness regimes, and books to help get me out of rough patches.
Like most teens, I kept secrets from my Mum. I didn’t tell her about my first kiss, a bad test grade, the first time I smoked pot. In my twenties, I can’t think of what I wouldn’t give to be able to tell her about the guy who dumped me, the issues I’m facing at work, or the drunken mistakes I made last weekend. She would tell me to make sure I’m enjoying myself but staying safe, not take things too seriously and probably recount some fun story from her youth, while rubbing my back.
Or that’s what I think she would do.
That’s where the pain becomes so real. I have no idea what she would tell me today if I had the chance to tell her about all my woes, and now, eight years after losing her, I still miss her, but the absence of motherly advice and stories is what I grieve most. The connection, the genuine sympathy and love, the relatable stories — all things that a young woman needs to help her grow — I’m missing.
I guess the grief never really goes away, but the stages they recycle and manifest themselves differently, however consistently, at different stages of life. The pain doesn’t go away, it just changes.