When Grieving Becomes Gruesome

I miss her. It’s plain and simple. My grief doesn’t come from anything other than the understandably selfish place that I miss her and want her here with me.

My mother, Linda Williams Brown, died in March of 2011 at the young and unexpected age of 51. I felt like a piece of me died with her. No matter how “prepared” you feel the holidays come and go, birthdays travel by, anniversaries pass, and new memories are established – as time waits for no one, and you have to find away to catch up to the life that’s moving on.

As the holiday season is here, I wanted to take the time to honor our loved ones by allowing us the space to help each other get through these times. One Harvard Health Publication notes that: “Each year, more than two million men, women, and children die in the United States, leaving behind loved ones who mourn them. The holidays are often the most difficult time of the year for people who are grieving.” (from the Harvard Mental Health Letter).


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“… I would look at life through the lenses of experiencing heaven. Because when I look from that perspective I feel her and see her every single day.”

My four year-old daughter has helped me with grief, and I’d like to share this thought process with you. Since my daughter was so young when my mother passed away, she wasn’t at the actual funeral. They had a holding room for kids – where they could play, etc. However, she did go to the burial site. She stayed in the car for the most part, but as inquisitive as she is, she had a million questions about where “Mama Lin” is, and whether or not she was in heaven. I assured her that she was definitely in heaven. I explained through tears and angst that she is dancing with God and the angels there and that we would surely look forward to seeing her one day.


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It took me a while after we buried my mom to go and visit the burial site until one day, my daughter asked me specifically if we could go and visit her. I put her off for weeks, making excuses when all along I just wasn’t ready to go back. Finally after her continuing to not let up, we went to visit her. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. My tears had changed from “inconsolably sad” to “wishing she was here”. There was a hint of relief as I found comfort in catching her up with what was happening with the kids and with me and my husband. And then my daughter says, “Mommy, this is so much fun! We’re in heaven!” I didn’t think so at the time, but a conversation on the way home with my kids would change everything.

You see, my daughter and son thought the burial site was heaven. They thought they were in heaven right here on earth. And that’s why they were having so much fun! I told myself from that day forward that every time I honored her; made a good choice that she would have made as a parent; enjoyed life; took time with family; helped someone else; taught a class; and woke up in the morning – that I would look at life through the lenses of experiencing heaven. Because when I look at life from that perspective I feel her and see her every single day. Not literally, of course, but it’s in those every day moments; in how they prepared a meal, loved you unconditionally, and worked their living that we can duplicate in our lives on a day-to-day basis.


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So here’s to experiencing a piece of heaven on earth during the holidays. Celebrate your lost loved one by being, giving, and loving just as they would have. They’d surely be smiling down on you!

For a full list of creative ways to help get through the holidays, visit this article from Harvard Medical School: Coping with Grief During the Holidays.