Her things are not her


Shirley E. Mitchell

Shirley E. Mitchell

Living in mom’s house hasn’t always been easy. We are going to sell it so I’m slowly cleaning it out. Maybe I need to go fast instead because this feels like I’m slowly making mom disappear, which is hard and sad.

I’m not ready to clean out mom’s really personal stuff so I’m cleaning out her bathroom. Slowly making my mom disappear. Hurts a lot.

083016 curlers

Mom has used these curlers for as long as I can remember, from back before the days of electric curling irons. Look at the stains from her hair dye. The things are literally more than 40 years old, how is it that she still has them? Yet, how is it that I can throw them away?

Today I’m tackling her bathroom. Everything I touch to try to throw away is hard — from photos her friends sent her to the shrimp in the freezer that she never got to eat to. But these are just things. And things are not her.

As I clean all I can think about is how I can’t wrap my brain around the concept of a person just disappearing from the face of the earth. I can’t even get near the concept of an afterlife because just the concept of death is tough enough. But she’s gone, she really is gone. I know I’m not the first person to suffer this kind of grief, but that worst thing about grief is that it’s a solitary thing. Even my brothers, who have many of the same memories, are grieving differently than I. No one can do the grief process for you.

My brothers are crying a lot less than I. So I told them that I have 657 million tears of grief to shed and I’ve only gone through about 27 million. I have a long way to go.

It’s been a month since she passed, which really isn’t long at all. I’m having a tough time balancing what’s too soon and what’s ok to start doing. On the one hand is that concept of “throwing her away.” On the other hand, we don’t want to be paying for a house that’s sitting empty. And at some point I need to get back home, find a job and get back to my life — or should I say start my new life, the one in a new location, with a new job and without my mom.

I don’t feel too bad about talking about “my mom” like I’m a child. I remember when mom’s father, the only grandpa I knew, died. Grandma had died many years prior to then. When he died, mom was 66 years old. I remember a moment when she was crying and said, “I’m an orphan now.”

Me too, Mom.

I know at some point I’ll be able to really rejoice in her being in heaven, that her pain is gone, that she’s reunited with all the people and dogs she talked about in the days before she died. But today’s not that day. Today, she’s just not here and I can’t get over that.


4 responses to “Her things are not her

  1. So sorry for your loss, been there done that. It does get easier. I often think, I should call mom she would be interested in that, or how would mom cook that, what would mom think….the list goes on. I wish a long distance call would go that distance! Love reading your thoughts on this subject. Hugs to you during this difficult time.

  2. Victoria Ray Carlson

    That is beautiful! Your mom will always be with you, you can only get rid of the material things but never what’s in your heart m, Love❤️ God Bless🙏

  3. You will never get over the grief so don’t even try. This is what a friend told me when I lost my beloved Ma over 30 years ago, and he was right. As long as you exist, SHE does too. He also told me that. And he was right about that too.

  4. My friend. I could express my condolences to you, but I don’t do well with things like that. I always try to extend sympathy and sympathetic words, but it always sounds cliche–at least to my ears. Maybe it’s because of the way I grieve, or not grieve. But I do want you to know that I understand how it feels to lose a parent–the loss of your mother, the loss of my father 13 years ago. My number is the same, I’m here as I’ve always been and as you’ve always been for me…and I could use a weekend get-a-way. Love You. AnDrea

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