Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Best Gift To Give Someone Who Is Grieving

My high school theology class had a unit on death and bereavement and these two things stuck with me: 
1.  Reach out to the grieving individual upon hearing of the death, but it's even more important to reach out to the individual 2+ weeks later.  This is because all of the activity surrounding the death has subsided and the quiet sets in...loneliness appears.  Life goes on for everyone else but the grief remains for the individual who lost a loved one.  This is when they need the most support.  
2.  The most wonderful gift you can give someone who is grieving is to share a story about their loved one.  Reminisce about the time you spent with the departed individual.  What was your favorite memory of that person?  How did he/she touch your life?  What did you learn from him/her?
Now that I've lost my mother, I can testify that these things are true.  The initial period after the death is a whirlwind.  You cannot fully process during this time.  You are a shell of a human in a state of shock.  Then life goes on...for everyone else.

Loneliness hurts.  You can be surrounded by people, but no one "gets it;" that pain that you're biting your lip to bear.  There's a fear of forgetting; forgetting the way her voice sounded, forgetting the way her hand felt in mine, forgetting all of those little quirks that made her who she was.

What helps?  When people who knew the departed person share stories about the person, you feel less alone.  Someone else knew my mother and also feels the void of her absence.  And that story that you share with me about a time my mom did something hilarious or kind...the story of how you first met...the story of what you learned from her...that keeps my mom present.

I've clung to my mom's childhood best friend during the past few weeks.  She helped take care of my mom while my mom was sick and we became very connected during that time.  She drove for hours to be with my mom upon hearing of her stroke.  She pulled Lydia aside and kept her entertained while I wept my way through a hospice meeting.  And she sat with me and shared stories of the ornery antics that she and my mom orchestrated during their teenage years.  She knew my mom long before I did.  And I hang on to every word that she says about my mom because I want to preserve every part of her that remains here on earth.  You have no idea how much I cherish a silly story about knocking the nun's statue off the shelf and carefully balancing the broken pieces atop one another, praying that you wouldn't get caught.  Then watching it wobble precariously every time someone got too close...or knowing it was my mom who drew the mustache on the poster of the annoying roommate in college, even though she would never admit it.

During my mom's funeral, another dear friend delivered the most incredible eulogy where he shared his stories of his friendship with my mom over the years.  They were teachers together and he started with the first day that my mom walked into the teachers' lounge and said something like, "Well, I have a student who is on all fours, barking like a dog, refusing to get up.  If this is an indication of how this school year is going to go, I'm in trouble."  I've asked him to send me the rest of the eulogy because it was authentic, hilarious, beautiful, and perfect and I want to have it forever.

Never have I been more grateful for this blog.  Mama Hop lives on here at Confessions of the Chromosomally Enhanced.  And it's apparent that the opportunity to get to "know" her through these words, pictures, and videos impacted many individuals that we've never even met.  I know this because messages from these individuals have come pouring in and just like the stories from my mom's friends, these stories provide comfort and happiness.  They help stave off the loneliness.  They provide reassurance that Mama Hop will not be forgotten.

The outpouring of support, the acts of kindness, the messages of love where you share your own story of loss: these things provide strength and offer a promise of healing.  Please accept our sincere gratitude.

One more thing...

 IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: CCE has not and will not become a grief blog.  Here in our world, humor sustains us.  It always has.  Just ask Mama Hop.  So I won't close this post without sharing a funny little story...

In 2012, my mom planned her own funeral.  She purchased a burial plot, picked the casket, etc...It seems like a morbid thing to do but it actually helps immensely!  Anyway, the funeral director was a lovely woman who was very kind and patient in walking me through everything.  She sent me email after email with bullets of things that I needed to decide/do.  Then, she would call and gently follow up, knowing I was trying to care for 3 children and my sister, while packing and planning for a long trip for the funeral. 

So we scheduled the family visitation for 8am and the public visitation for 9am following by the funeral and burial.  Then I got another one of these emails with another bulleted list.  One particular bullet made me laugh so hard...
Hey Guys!  Wine tasting at the funeral home - 8am sharp!  Come thirsty!  

Oh Mama Hop and her Pinot Grigio!  You've gotta love her!  Family did, indeed, have a wine toast in honor of Mama Hop, but we waited until later in the day.  And I'll never be able to see Pinot Grigio again without thinking of Mama Hop and smiling.


21 comments:

  1. I love this and wouldn't expect anything less from Mama Hop.
    P.S. Was Pearl able to make it?

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  2. Well....since you asked...I think of this story often, but wasn't sure if I should share on here. I keep recalling the time your Mom invited the bowling crew over to her basement for a Christmas gathering. She was a delightful hostess and even brought out a few of her treasured art projects from the storage room to share with us. One particular "undergarment art project" was the best laugh of the evening! Your Mom definitely had a great sense of humor and that is a gift that will help you through this difficult time. I lost my father due to complications following a stroke in March this year and know how much it helps to remember the fun times.

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  3. I only “know” your family through your blog and Instagram. I know these past few months are not anything you expected to happen this year. Please know your family is in the thoughts of many internet friends near and far. I look forward to seeing the new adventures that await for Leanne and your girls. And I just have to ask, where are the cats? I know Leanne will be cared for amazingly by your family so my mind immediately went to wondering about Mama Hop’s cats. You’ll all get through this and come out stronger on the other side. I just know it!

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  4. You are a beautiful person full of grace much like Momma Hop. What is the origin of the name Momma Hop ? I am a stranger but always read your blogs. Never stop sharing with us and hugs to your family

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  5. Yes, it’s the stories that keep you going. It’s been four years and not a week goes by that my mom and I don’t laugh over something grandma said or did. Remembering with humor especially heals the most. I only knew your mom through the blog, but when my kids and I prayed together for y’all to find peace in the grieving, my daughter verified that this was the “baloney” amputation lady. It led to a great discussion of why she had so much baloney that some needed to be removed! Her legacy will live on forever.

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  6. I'm so sorry for you loss. I've been following your blog/instagram for a long time and was so shocked when I saw your first post about her passing. Sending love to you, your family and to Mama Hop.

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  7. I am on the other side of the world & only knew your Mum from your blog so I don't have any personal stories but the stories you shared here made me wish I knew her in real life, she seemed like a very funny, lovely lady. Please know that I am praying for comfort for you & your family, hopefully the wonderful memories stored on this blog will help. Sending love & hugs from Australia

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  8. I, too, only know your mom and your family from your blog. But your writing brought everyone to life so I feel as if I "knew" Momma Hop, just a bit. So very sorry for your loss and hope all of you, and especially Leanne are doing as well as can be expected.

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  9. I agree with all of the above, and I only know your beautiful family through your blog and IG. What a blessing to have become a follower of your wise and funny words! Mama Hop is so correct, you are an exceptional writer, and we are all better for having shared in your journey. Cheers to Mama Hop...I just texted my daughter with the very same instructions for my future, final plans! :) May God continue to bless you and your family as you learn how to tread through this new normal. I know my Catholic faith was the greatest blessing my parents could have given me, and I would guess that it will be yours too. You will remain in my prayers.

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  10. Again my condolences....I have loved your Mom from afar, and this last story seals the deal. My Mom had picked out a "lay down outfit" and it changed with the seasons! Laugh with the grief...it truly helps.
    Many blessings

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  11. I lost my stepmom 2 years ago. She came into my life in 1978. She had a calmness, steadiness and her love language was service. (cooking delicious food among other things) She was a blessing to me in so many ways. An amazing Grandma to my children. I lost my Dad in 2004. She kept his memory alive for me. I think losing her was like losing my Dad all over again. I have accepted that I will never get over losing them. The grief is equal to the love I received. That seems fair to me. I will be thinking of you. You brought Mama Hop to life for your readers. That is pretty amazing and it seems she knew that was your gift!

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  12. That Mama Hop was a gem. Can't believe she is gone. it is unreal and I do not know her or you and I am so sad. Hugs

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  13. I have always loved your blog and was so sad for you for what you have gone thru. I have been there. It is hard. I will miss Mama Hop, but will love following your knew adventures with Leanne and the girl. Are the cats still with you? Will Leanne be responsible for their care?

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  14. I love you blog and Mama Hop. I am so sorry for all you had to go through these past months. I went through something similar several years ago. It was hard. I look forward to your adventures with Leanne and the girls. Will Leanne be in charge of the cats?

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  15. The stories from her friends are wonderful and I laughed at the request for wine.

    My mom also planned her own funeral and five years later, when my father passed away, we found he had left instructions at the funeral home as well. When we opened the note it said "same as Betty's". We honored some of his wish but not all.

    Hang onto those moments of laughter. While I only knew her through the pages of your blog, I had the sense that Momma Hop had a great sense of humour and passed it to her daughters. All the best!

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  16. I am one of your avid readers, and in a way I almost feel like I knew your mom in person, as your writing is so evocative. To say it came as a shock to hear of Mama Hop's passing is an understatement. I literally grieved over here all the way in Australia, for a mother not even my own, and for someone I only knew through your blog and Instagram.

    Your stories of Mama Hop are always so wonderful. Like I said, your writing evokes such emotions; over the years of reading about your family, we readers have laughed with you, empathised with you, and now we are crying with you. Your mom was right about your writing - it is a gift, and we are blessed to have been gifted through your writing with a sense of the incredible spirit your mom possessed. She obviously was an amazing woman who raised two incredible daughters. She will always live on in you both, and in a way - through all of us who got to know her through your words also. I know she has touched my heart, and for that I am grateful. Sending you much love xx

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  17. My mom had her funeral planned and payed for also, it indeed helped immensely <3 Thank you for sharing, 10 months in it still sucks but it does get easier.

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  18. i LOVE the video of your mom's after Christmas party! Such a fun lady who knew how to embrace life. ❤️

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  19. I love your raw honesty about grief and its effect on you. I am blessed that both of my parents are living but with that being said, I literally am in tears reading this, knowing the day of their passing will be here before I’m ready. I know of grief from what others have shared but I am very certain that it will be incomprehensible when I experience it. I was heartened to hear about others sharing their stories and rememberances. I have made it a personal policy to always share a memory, story, or endearing quality when I send a sympathy card. Continued prayers as you navigate this new path and also for the girls and Leanne

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  20. I love your raw honesty about the grieving process. I am blessed my parents are still living but I know the day of their passing will be here before I am ready. At times,(like reading your blog) it brings me to tears to think about it. With that being said, I only know of grief from what others share and expect it to be incomprehensible when I must face it. Continued prayers for you, the girls, and Leanne as you navigate this new path.

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  21. I keep coming by to check for an update from you, so I was glad to see this one here. Sending love <3

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