On August 30th 2007, I lost the woman who gave me life unexpectedly . I was seventeen years old, just shy of my senior year of high school. My mother was gone, she was taken from us, and as a young woman, your life changes completely. Below are things you should know when it comes to losing a mother. They are based off my own personal experiences; the ups and downs, and the absolute turmoil trying to figure out who you are without your mom.

1. It's okay not to cry all the time

I cried when my mom died (naturally) but at her funeral I didn't shed a tear. It's because it didn't seem real. She was cremated so I couldn't see her. I was angry and the thought of shedding those tears made me think I was gonna be weak. You're not dead inside, you're just all done with those tears. Remember that.

2. She didn't want to leave you

I spent so many years being angry at my mother for dying because I felt abandoned. I felt abandoned by someone who didn't chose to leave. Every dream I had of her I woke up angry because she was there, I always thought she was playing prank on me. As I got older I realized that I wasn't abandoned, it was just an awful tragedy in my story.

3. Don't be afraid to talk about her

I cannot stress this enough. Talking about them repent their memory alive. And no one has a right to tell you to stop because they assume you want sympathy. no. The "I'm sorry's" are bad enough, I never wanted sympathy. I wanted support. Whenever I talk about her it helps people in my life get to know her through me and who she was. And I will never stop.

4. Don't turn to alcohol or drugs to numb your pain

I did that. I would binge drink for weeks just to get rid of that pain in my chest. It doesn't help; it may feel like it does at first but it makes matters worse. You blame others for your pain, you disassociate and you become cruel. Numbing the pain is just an easy way out. Stop and think about how you would feel if she saw you that way.

5. You will never get over it

People who don't understand will tell you to "move on, get over it" and those are the people who have never experienced a loss like that. Getting over it is like putting a band-aid on a knee scrape. You never get over it. You grow from it. You learn to live your life without your mother but you never get over it. It took me NINE YEARS to ACCEPT her death. Sometimes it takes longer for some. There will forever be a hole in my heart for the rest of my life. And that's okay.


6. It's okay to be selfish

I'm only selfish on Mother's Day. That's only because it's constantly in my face. In a store, on television. I will stare at the Mother's Day cards and want to light them on fire. I look at people who pick out cards for their mother and I want to scream at them and say, "MUST BE NICE TO HAVE A MOM!" I don't do that of course, that's just the bipolar, angry part of my brain. I choose Mother's Day as a day for myself. I will either stay in bed all day or see my family. That day is a day for me.

7. You're not crazy if only for a split second you think she's still here

I've gone to pick up the phone to call my mother at least four times since she's been gone. Your brain completely shuts down every aspect of knowing that your mother is gone and your subconscious comes through. When that four-second thought crosses my mind I snap back into reality and remember. It feels like whiplash; it gets hard to breathe for a moment because you psych yourself out for such a short amount of time.

8. Holding her ashes made me accept her death more

My mother was cremated; I also never saw her body when she died. I refused to see the dead body that once held my mother's soul. Not seeing her body kind of made things a little worse for me; it was because I didn't accept that she was gone. I had nothing to see to prove to me that she was really gone. This past summer, I bought my father a cremation necklace for his birthday and I had to put some of her ashes in it. That's when I knew that I had to face my fear, open up her urn, and look upon what is left of my mother. I remember trembling so badly, my hands wouldn't stop shaking as I unscrewed the bottom. My heart was beating so fast that it felt like I was running a marathon. As soon as I set eyes on her ashes, I stared sobbing. I stuck my entire hand in her urn and took a handful of her ashes and just held them. I don't know why; it may have seemed morbid but I think it was a form of closure for me. I was holding my mother, I was holding a part of her. I cried hysterically and just continued to stare at the gray/white ash. My hands were darkened from it, and I was too afraid to wash my hands. The thought of her going down the drain freaked me out for some reason so I just wiped my hands on my clothes. Oh well. For the first time in nine years I was closer to her than I have ever been. At the time, I knew she wasn't coming back, but to actually feel that after nine years, it all came together. That's what I needed. I needed to come face to face with her death.


9. Hold on to her things: whether it's drawings, clothes, pictures. It'll give you a better understanding on the woman who was your mother

I always hang on to things that have sentimental value; old birthday cards, pictures, a piece of clothing. I recently came across sketches that my mother did. It gave me a better understanding on what she was feeling and how her bipolar disorder affected her thinking. In all honestly, her artwork is beautiful. As a writer, I find the metaphors, the subtle hints. Running your hand over something like a drawing makes you feel like you're there with her. If you find something of hers, even if it's just a voided check, or a piece of paper with her name on it: keep it.


10. She is always with you

I'm not sure if I believe in a God but I know that there's something else besides this world. Just because she's not there physically with you, she sees you always. I always say whenever I see a monarch butterfly that it's her. That butterfly will show up at random times in my life; I had one follow me around when I was on vacation this year. It was flying all over me and I felt comfort. I felt that peace and I knew she was with me.

I know first hand what it's like to lose a mother, if you have too I can completely go on with the lists of things that will happen. You already know if you've lost her. it's a gut wrenching pain that is very hard to explain and put into words. That pain will be there forever but just know that you have become stronger through this loss and as a motherless child, you are a warrior.