What I Would Say to the 14-Year-Old Me
Today I received a comment to a post on the Mom Loss Survivors Facebook page where someone shared that their 17-year-old granddaughter had lost their Mom and was really hurting.
Not only was it painful for me to hear that she was hurting but it also took me right back to the day when I was 14 and all of a sudden Mom was gone.
It got me thinking about what I would say to the 14-year-old me and what can I say now to help this person’s granddaughter who is hurting and in pain.
I would say this:
It’s not your fault. It never was and it never will be. You didn’t do anything wrong and you are not being punished. Hard as I might have tried to think differently … as a 14-year-old I thought losing Mom was my fault. I blamed myself for all those ‘bad’ things I did in my teenage years and, as a result, I was punished.
It’s not your job to take care of everyone else … especially at the expense of yourself. As I have shared in previous blog posts, after Mom died I willingly took on the Mom role at home and, in later years when that Mom role was no longer needed, I found others to take care of. What I have learned is it was easier to take care of someone else than it was to face the pain of losing Mom … so that’s what I did.
It’s ok to ask for help. As you know, this is a HUGE struggle for me even after all these years. However, I think I would have been able to move past the pain if I had reached out and asked for help then and let others know how much I was hurting. I have learned recently that, instinctively, people do want to help and comfort and support and listen but oftentimes don’t know what to do or how to help. Even if we just ask someone to hold us while we cry and not say a word … we just need to ask.
It’s ok to talk about Mom, remember Mom and celebrate Mom. This is one of the key ways that I found that helped me move past the pain to a place of hope and healing. For years after Mom died, we as a family, didn’t talk about her. It was as if she died and then we pretended she never lived. That was so so hard. I think people thought it would be easier and less painful if we didn’t talk about her, but the result was just the opposite. Today, I have finally filled my house with special photos of Mom, we are talking about her as a family again and exchanging memories … and I find ways to celebrate all the gifts that she brought to my life like making her old cookie recipes and creating a shadow box with remembrances and momentos of her and putting a quilt she helped me make in the 1980s (and my Mom Sharyn helped me complete 25+ years later) on my bed. Seems so simple … and yet it helps me feel that she is all around me every day.
I would also say this to the 14-year-old me …
You are worthy of unconditional love and affection (most especially from yourself).
A sense of belonging starts with you. Begin each day reminding yourself that you have a birth right to be here and to be the unique, totally lovable awesome person you are ... complete with every single perfect imperfection.
You are both a gift and a blessing.
You are loved.
You are designed to be resilient and whole (even when you feel "less than").
Your Mom wanted you to rise ... not settle.
These are all things I wish someone had said to me … so I am saying them to you.
What I have learned is that we can find our way past the pain of losing Mom to a place of hope and healing and eventually to happiness and joy. But, in order to do so, we have to reach out and ask for help, we have to share ourselves vulnerably so others know how to help … and in doing so we can come to a place of remembrance and celebration of our Moms and find ways to bring her love into our life each day … so much so that we are surrounded by it.
And last, but certainly not least, we can do it together.
Will you join me?
So much love,