There has to be, HAS to be, some benefits.

I love grieving people. A woman was on my table last night who lost her mom less than 5 months ago. She was still forgetting to use past tense but also remembering to correct herself: “My mom is…{pause}…was…”. The tears flow easily with us bereaved, in front of other people, in public, anywhere. I want to say we are not afraid to cry but some of us are and yet, we cry anyway. Sometimes there is nothing to do to stop them and tears just come. It’s still bravery. It’s bravery to cry on the massage table or at the grocery store or even at a funeral. We have the backwards notion in this culture that crying is a sign of weakness which ironically makes those of us who cry openly and vulnerably, brave and strong, to fee l what we feel and express it despite a world who will view us as weak.

Even at less than 5 months, this woman has learned some very deep and true lessons about being whole now. These lessons that she is protesting now, but that will start to settle into her bones and weave themselves into the fabric of who she is. She said: “my mom was part Unavailable Jerk and part Amazing Lady. All these people have been coming up to me and saying ‘your mom was an Amazing Lady’ and I think to myself, why didn’t I get more of the Amazing Lady?” and in the next breath she says, ‘this is the worst thing that can happen, you know? This woman who has been there for you and with you, even when she wasn’t or couldn’t be, for your whole life….There is no one who has been with you, really been with you for your whole life, not even your dad, not like your mother. And now she’s just gone.” It’s amazing and it’s true. Her mom was an Unavailable Jerk AND she doesn’t know how to live this life without her. That was death does, that’s what grief gives us. It gives us the Whole, Damn Thing. The contradiction, the irony, the hypocrysy and it demands we have a look at it, we live it, we snuggle up close to it and give in.

She told me that though her mother was both, neither defined her. She was both of those things and a whole lot more. She told me “So that means I can be all of the things that I am, the good and the bad, the success and the failure and it doesn’t matter because it’s all of me. I’m just being who I am”.

So thank you to this mother and thank you to death. Now she gets to cry when she needs to regardless who is around her or not. Now she gets to be more fully herself with less shame and blame and guilt. Now she gets to forgive herself her shortcomings and allow herself to live into where she soars. Now she sees what it is be whole and she can live her life in the pursuit of that wholeness and let go of the bullshit we’ve been sold about happiness. Now she has become more, fully human. And it’s only been five months. Just wait and see what she does, Mama. Just wait and see what the gifts you’ve given her in life and now in death, the good, the bad and the ugly, will do for her.

She told me she always felt connected to her mother and now she is gone. And I wanted to jump up and down and say “No! No! You are STILL connected to her! She is STILL with you!! Just listen and watch and you’ll see her everywhere! You are not alone! and you never will be!” but I thought I’d wait, until she discovers that herself in the very, very near future.

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