Wrestling With Grief in Motherhood

This guest post from Caitlin at Twin Mom and More tackles a serious but important topic: wrestling with grief in motherhood. When you’re a mother and you lose a loved one, you have to handle grief a little differently. Here’s how, plus what to do when grief hits you expectedly.

Wrestling With Grief in Motherhood: It’s Not Fair But We Must Press On

Sometimes when the grief hits me, I know what it was that triggered it.

pinable image: woman crying "wrestling with grief in motherhood"

The bottle of Worstershire sauce staring back at me from the refrigerator brought on a whole slew of memories. My dad loved that stuff.

Or seeing my pair of knockoff Raybans that I purchase on a whim from a random pop-up shop. I showed them to my dad and he compared them to his real Raybans. He held them up to the light and declared “I’ll stick with mine. They’re the real McCoy!”

Sometimes it’s a song or a picture that triggers a memory.

Sometimes it’s hearing my children shriek with laughter and being stuck with the harsh realization that my dad will never. see. my. children. again.

It’s the Redsox winning the world series and the Patriots winning the Superbowl (both of which I’m pretty sure my dad played a part in).

It’s Christmas morning and realizing I don’t get to see my dad’s eyes light up when he sees his grandchildren open gifts from him. His excitement was always pretty much on par with the kids.

pinable image: managing grief while being a mom, wrestling with grief in motherhood

Wrestling With Grief in Motherhood: When Grief Hits Unexpectedly

But sometimes? Sometimes that wave of grief comes out of nowhere and knocks the wind right out of me when I’m not expecting it at all.

I’ll be in the kitchen making dinner and all of a sudden I feel paralyzed. “My dad is really dead” I’ll think. My children call out from the other room that someone needs help going potty and someone else is thirsty. Dinner needs to be made, the kids need to be taken care of.

Bills still need to be paid, laundry done, noses wiped, booboos kissed.

As a mama to 3 little ones, grief looks different than it might if my children were older. I can’t lose myself in my emotions the way I would if my children aren’t around.

And not because I don’t think my children should see me cry or know that I’m upset… no, that’s not it.

It’s because when the grief hits… when I really think about the fact that my dad is actually and truly gone… I can’t function.

I can’t wipe noses or make dinner.

I can’t break up fights or help get the lid off the play-doh container.

When the grief hits me, I can’t do anything at all.

Read –> The Physical Effects of Grief

Grief Isn’t Fair

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair.

Those were the words I repeated over and over to my husband the night we lost my dad. My dad died suddenly and unexpectedly from cardiac arrest. One day he was there, and then overnight, he was gone. Just like that. Gone.

My uncle arrived at our house in the middle of the night, pounding frantically on our door, because we were asleep and our phones were on silent. “Your dad,” he said. “He collapsed. There’s nothing they could do.”

“No” was all I managed to whisper. “No.”

It’s not fair. These words still play themselves on repeat in my mind at least on a weekly basis.

It’s not fair that my dad is gone.

It’s not fair that my kids don’t get to see their Grampa ever again.

It’s not fair that my mom is a widow.

It’s not fair that when my sister gets married she will have no one to walk her down the aisle.

It’s not fair that if I have another baby, my dad won’t get to meet them.

Related –> 4 Big Life Changes I Made After Losing My Father

wrestling with grief in motherhood

Handling Grief as a Mom

Death isn’t fair. Grief isn’t fair. And wrestling with grief in motherhood? It’s really, really hard.

Not only do our children rely on us to meet their physical needs, but parenting is so emotionally exhausting (usually in the best possible way!) that there’s no energy left at the end of the day to feel any feelings.

Perhaps, like me, you’re grieving the loss of a parent. Perhaps you’re grieving the loss of a spouse, sibling, or child.

Whoever you’re grieving, I’m sure you’re hit with waves of grief, and I’m sure, just like me, you’re wrecked by the thought that it just isn’t fair.

And it’s not.

But fair or not, we must press on.

We can’t let our grief completely consume us, though there are days where it may threaten to. We must press on for our children. We have to learn to manage it, which doesn’t mean ignoring it.

We must honor it and find time to grieve, which, honestly, is the last thing I want to do. I wrote a little bit about my grief when I first lost my dad, but it was incredibly difficult and so I stopped.

Still, as I write this, 7 months later, with tears streaming down my face, it. is. hard.

Related –> Eulogy for my Father

Caitlin wedding day with dad

Finding Time to Grieve

But finding time to grieve, when my children aren’t around, gives me the strength to power through when I need to be present. To press on. To be mommy and make dinner and take care of everybody.

So, what can you do? I suggest finding time during nap time on the weekends, or in the evenings after your children have gone to bed.

Look at pictures, write down memories, listen to their favorite songs. Allow yourself to feel their presence and let the tears flow freely. This does get easier with time.

Caitlin as a child with her dad and brother

Find the time to grieve, and then push on. When it hits you in the middle of playing with your children or on the drive to school, push pause on those emotions and come back to it.

I’m going to be a better mom because my dad died. I want to look back and think “that was really hard, but I didn’t fall apart. I kept on because of my children.”

I won’t allow my grief to swallow me whole. I’ll wrestle with it and I’ll push on until all that can be said of my grief is that it made me stronger.

Caitlin is the mother of identical twin girls and one of the cutest five year old boys you’ll ever see! She blogs about all things motherhood over at Twin Mom and More.

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