Reinventing My Story of Grief

Dear Readers: Please welcome guest writer, Alexis Croswell (AC) to Inspiration for Good today! AC is a dear friend of mine and a fantastic writer — I hope you will enjoy and be inspired by her personal story as much as I am! xoxo -KP


Today marks the eleventh year since my mom passed away.

When I think about this fact, these are my thoughts:

  • FUCK. This still really sucks. I miss her
  • I wonder if I’d be the same person today if she were still alive  
  • The smell of lavender is her scent
  • Whimsical art reminds me of her (especially if there is purple)
  • Mothers who love their children remind me of her
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Photo credit: Mark Croswell

This last bullet point struck me recently. Living in a big city I don’t see a lot of mothers and children in my day-to-day life. However, a few weeks ago while riding the bus I sat across from a mother and her daughter. The daughter was about 13, the age I was when my mom died.

They were having a discussion about texting in class, and the mom said with authority, “If everyone was doing something really stupid, everyone was doing it, and you knew it was wrong, you shouldn’t do it.” The girl persisted saying it wasn’t a big deal, then ignored her mom for a few minutes in the “MOM! I-am-not-having-this-right-now” kind of way. After a period of self-reflective silence they resumed idle conversation.

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Photo credit: Mark Croswell

I had forgotten what those moments between a mother and daughter can feel like. It was benign and it was beautiful.

When I was younger, everyone in my community knew about my mom’s death. We had all grown up together and many people knew her personally. After I left my hometown, I was a blank slate to new people. Once we passed the point of casual acquaintance I had to shape the story of who I was. My grief became part of this story.

In the minds of people who had never met her, my mom was only the memory of a woman with cancer who died too young. People would associate her with sadness, my sadness. I was too close to the tragedy to speak much more of her than what had most recently happened. I had blocked out so much of my life because it was too painful to recall.

Now, when I talk about my mom, I want to feel and acknowledge the grief, but then allow those memories of joy, happiness, and love to help shape my story.  

Her soul lives on today in me and my sister, and everyone who was witness to her kindness. She is a beautiful woman.

She gave the best hugs. You know the kind – mom hugs – where you fit just right and you know that everything will be okay, someday. Her laughter was beautiful–it added positive energy to the world.

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Photo credit: Mark Croswell

Growing up in our house there was magic, and I could let my creativity run wild (as long as I dusted on Sundays).

She tolerated the summer month I kept pet worms in my bedroom. She laughed in a knowing way when I showed off my hairless legs the first time I shaved. She gave me an appreciation for the act of making art. She painted and created because it made her soul come alive. She taught me how to cook, and how to organize and let go of what I no longer needed. We made the best Christmas cookies.

She was kind and she loved.

I wish I had more solid memories of her during these happier times. What I remember most was the year I watched her die.

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Photo credit: Mark Croswell

It was a slow progression: losing her hair, losing her breast, losing her grip on the physical world. I remember the day she told me she could sense that the end was near. When she said this, she didn’t cry; I didn’t either. I climbed onto her hospice bed and laid with her, our bodies and souls doing the work that our words could not.

I miss her fiercely and love her dearly. It’s never easy to write about her (I had a break for crying around paragraph three) but it is important to me. Grief is a weighty and complex emotion, so when I can break it into pieces and turn those into words on a page that I can confront it gives me clarity.

There will always be grief. Some days I will let it envelop me. Other days I can acknowledge it and let it pass by me so I can find the joyful, happy, and loving memories of my mom. I hope that you can find acceptance and love for your story, whatever it may be.

In the words of my mom, and one of her greatest pieces of advice, I hope that you too can “enjoy life.”

-AC

Lexi head shot

About the Author: Alexis Croswell has a passion for story telling and an innate desire to learn. She enjoys deep thoughts and emotionally stimulating conversation. She will also be the first to laugh at herself and doesn’t take life too seriously. In her day job she works in content marketing at a people analytics company.

Discover more about Alexis here.

P.S. Sign up for Weekly InspirationInspiration for Good’s newsletter! Find guest posts like AC’s and more from KP in your inbox every week!

Feature photo credit: Mark Croswell

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inspirationforgood

I am a writer, observer and explorer at heart. I have a deep, deep love for doing good and philanthropy. I believe we can all do our part to make this world a better place in both small and large ways, and I am also always looking for opportunities to bring people closer to their own personal missions. My own personal mission is this: to be a strong, successful woman working to make the world a more sustainable, humane, compassionate and happy place, knowing that every little bit helps.

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