Grief and Loss

Lighting Candles

Today would be my Mom’s birthday. Eighty-five, I think. I’ll have to calculate to be sure.  She’s been gone so long, I’m truly uncertain.

What I do know, without a doubt, is the heartache her early death created. That never goes away.

Simple things stir the ashes of my heartache: a friend’s parents visiting from out of town, a question only Mom could answer, the light of a memory flickering out of my recollections. I’ve learned I must be careful not to breathe too heavily on the embers lest they ignite again. It’s a delicate balance to keep a fire while not letting it combust.

I’ve survived important markers like graduations, marriage and having children without a mother in my life. I’ve even passed the diciest “I’m-now-older-than-she-ever-lived-to-be” stage.  Yet her absence continues to infuse my days. It’s dishonest to say it hasn’t. I don’t do dishonesty anymore.

Here is the truth:  I miss my mom as much when I feel joy as I do when I feel afraid.

When she died, I felt everyone’s pain and grief. I was a child and didn’t know what to do with other’s fumbling attempts at consolation. After all, how do you console such a loss?  In response, I quickly learned to make it look like all was fine. Put on a brave face. Never show how much it hurt. I became adept at hiding on a day such as this.

Today, I no longer hide.

Today, I give voice to my heartache.

Today, I can stand firmly in who I am–a confident, successful, fifty year old writer, mother, and wife–and say all these years later it still hurts. I still miss my mom. I always will.

And I’m going to be just fine.


10 thoughts on “Lighting Candles”

  1. Therese says:

    Giving voice to missing your mom, affords the luxury of being present and authentic. Grief and joy reside together, both meaningful for a wholehearted life, one day at a time. Love you my friend and sending “miss you” candy hearts to heaven for her “85 ish”.

    1. Katie O'Connell says:

      Thank you! And thank you for the love sent on her behalf

  2. Nancy Simpson says:

    Thanks Katie. You’ve written how I often feel about my Mom’s death. I was lucky enough to have her until she was 67 & I was 42, but I still miss her.

  3. Maggie Fitzmaurice Trucano says:

    Perfectly said, Katie, for those of us who have lost a mother, especially at a young age. I’ve always put on that ‘It’s fine-it was a long time ago’ attitude while still feeling such deep sorrow inside. Yes, even to this day, as a 53 year old woman, I miss having a mom Every. Damn. Day.

    1. Heartwired Writing says:

      I agree. It never leaves us and shades each experience…both positively and negatively. Thanks for your thoughts, Maggie. I believe each time I say it hurts but I’ll be okay, I help someone else voice the same thing. ❤️

  4. Maureen Glass says:

    I love this piece –and how you are owning missing Mom. It was heartwarming to read. I agree you are a successful, fifty year old writer, mother, and wife, one who misses Mom, and who is also going to be just fine.

    1. Heartwired Writing says:

      Thank you Maureen! Owning my truths and stories allows me to live a richer, deeper life. Thanks for seeing that!

  5. Nancy Gelband O'Connor says:

    Thank you for opening the door to this oh so intimate part of you – to this sacred ground of sorts. To be trusted is a gift. There is much spaciousness in that. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Karina says:

    Thank you for sharing that. Your writing conveyed your feelings beautifully.

  7. Pam Nielsen says:

    Beautifully written and very heartfelt. I will never know what it was like to go through, but I can feel your pain with your words. You are such a strong and brave woman and I am blessed to call you my friend.

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