Grief is a difficult process to endure, but experiencing it while being a mother can be quite the challenge. This past February, I unexpectedly lost my dad. I was about 3 months pregnant with Luciana when I discovered that he passed, and how I found out left me completely traumatized. That day is on repeat in the back of my mind. It was a normal day, I dropped off Ysabel at my sister’s before work, nothing out of the ordinary until I received a message that would change everything. During my lunch break, I received a text from my cousin to check on my dad because he wasn’t responding to my aunt’s phone calls or text messages which was quite unusual considering they talk everyday. His work friend was even worried because he usually picks him up and takes him to work. On a Monday, my dad told him he wasn’t feeling well and will be going to work the next day. The next day came and went, his friend didn’t hear from him, he even showed up at his house but he didn’t answer the door. I sent him a text message that didn’t go through, tried to call him and it went straight to voicemail, I started to panic because I knew something was wrong. He would always answer his phone or would call me back if he is in the middle of something. I couldn’t take the suspense and decided to leave work shortly after my lunch break. My mom and I decided to meet at his house as she had the key to check on him. I arrived before she did and sat in my car, restless. When I saw the house light on and the excessive amounts of mail in the mailbox, fear rushed all over me. Finally my mom arrived, parked behind me, we went to the door together, my heart was pounding and I was quietly shaking. She opened the door, it was so cold in there, and even though the house was full of stuff it felt so empty and vacant. As we slowly walked towards the living room we found him on the floor, our initial thought was that he was taking a nap. My mom called out his name first, no response, then I yelled for him, the house echoed. When my mom reached over to feel his pulse she reported that he is cold and not with us. My heart snapped, and my body ached as if it fell ill. I couldn’t breathe for one minute and thirty seconds then finally I let out a gasp, burst into uncontrollable tears and screamed in disbelief. This was one of my worst nightmares. I didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye. All these questions were running laps in my head. If he was ill why didn’t he call me? Why didn’t he want to say goodbye? I knew I had to pull myself together for Ysabel and my unborn child because they needed someone strong to be with them through this tragic time. I wiped the hot tears from my face while my mom called my brothers and sister to tell them what happened. My mom was definitely the strongest one. She took care of everything with grace and fearlessness. I will always admire her for that, her strength kept me stable when I thought I was going to go insane. I felt like I let my dad down in a way because he didn’t have the opportunity to witness me receiving my Masters or the birth of his second grandchild, but I knew he wouldn’t want me to be so hard on myself, as he always told me he was proud of me. This year was emotionally challenging for me. Holidays, birthdays and other celebrations just weren’t the same with him not being here. Christmas is just around the corner, and this is the hardest holiday yet because this past Christmas was the last Christmas I saw him. I remember having the urge to hug him tighter after Christmas dinner before I left to go home, and I am so thankful that I did.
Mamas, if you experienced a loss, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. You will never fully get over it but the memories that you have of your loved one can give you peace. Never forget the good times and the impact that they had on your life because that can give you strength. There is no timetable for grief, take your time and feel every emotion, it will soothe your soul and help you heal. Mourning is healthy, don’t be ashamed of it. Grief while being a mother is no easy task, trust me, being there for your kids emotionally and discussing the good memories with them helps not only them, but you too. Even though it hurts, I find it necessary to talk with my daughter about her dear beloved “papaw” because memories are where he is alive and present. I encourage you, mama, to let out the emotions instead of keeping it in, express yourself. Self-care isn’t just about skin products or time away from kids, self-care can simply be an emotional release and taking the time to grief.