I lost my mother a couple years ago. I had 4 children (including an infant), I had just quit my full-time job, and shortly after my husband took a job in a different state. My mother and I were very close and while she had been sick, her death still felt sudden and seemed very unfair.
In the first hours and days, I remember standing in the shower crying and repeating over and over “I don’t want to do this”. My mom had always been there to grieve with me before and suddenly she wasn’t and I found it incredibly difficult to know what to do and how to do it without her.
I also had the kids. I was given a crash course in parenting and homeschooling while grieving.
Then there were my kids.
I am an only surviving child. My kids were my mother’s only grandchildren and they were my mother’s world. In many ways, she was theirs as well.
They have struggled and continue to struggle with the unfair loss and harsh reality of grief. They are forever different after losing her. She was their soft place to land and to watch them struggle and feel helpless… makes me miss her even more.
She would have been who I would have asked for advice from in how to help them, but she isn’t here. It is an empty spot that cannot seem to be filled.
My mom had a bigger than life personality. Two years later people still often have tears in their eyes when they mention her because she is so very missed. Two years without her humor or tears or food. It just seems like an eternity.
Then there are the new pains. When my mom passed away, my older son said he knew it had happened. He said it was like a string between them and around the time she passed away he woke up and felt like someone had just taken a pair of scissors and cut the string!
It was the saddest and truest thing I had ever heard. Then there are the other strings that get cut. Every time you lose someone else that knew your loved one, it is a string cut away. A connection is lost that held your memories close.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because if there is grief in your home this year, I want you to know you aren’t alone. I want to tell you that grief doesn’t end, but it changes. The early days seem to be full of tears and trepidation, but one day there will be memories without tears.
One day, you will be able to tell a joke that you and your loved one shared with a smile. One day, your kids will seem less raw and you will realize that you do too. That day is different for everyone. That day also isn’t some magical turning point.
Grief doesn’t end because missing them doesn’t end. There will be days that it seems fresh and days that is seems so far away. All of those things are real and OK and honest. Your ability to change and adapt to this new normal is amazing. They are missed and there is no amount of time that will change that, but you are resilient and capable and amazing and you will live with this grief.
The reality of parenting and homeschooling while grieving.
I am two years out and finally feel some sense of normal. Not like before normal, but a new normal. The normal without her.
We didn’t get much traditional schooling done in the first year after my mom passed away. Our days involved going through the motions. We did learn to not be so rigid, to adapt to change, to grieve, and that there are many many things out of our control.
My kids know the sun continues to rise even with a broken heart and that each day is a gift. We learned that it is important to love and we strengthened our own family bond. We focused on healing a deep wound.
It is the year (so far) that I am most thankful for homeschooling. My kids couldn’t have done a normal schedule. Some kids might be able to, but my kids couldn’t. We were able to sit and cry or go to a park or just breathe in the first weeks and months.
If you are homeschooling while grieving, it is ok to alter your plans. At first, your focus is survival, that is ok. Even after the initial shock, you may need to spend time mending little hearts (and big ones) and that is the gift of homeschooling.
We say that kids can’t learn when they are hungry, but kids can’t learn when they are heartbroken either. We tend to rush grief in the U.S. because it makes people feel uncomfortable. Don’t rush there is not a fast lane for grief, but there are lots of detours.
If you are parenting and/or homeschooling while grieving, I am sorry for your loss. Love yourself and your kids. This season is hard and you are a rockstar because you made it through today. Hugs and prayers to you and yours.