on grief. a year and a half later

She gave me that mug.

Tomorrow marks the year and a half anniversary since my Mom died.

She died on a Monday.

Tomorrow's a Monday.


It seems like yesterday that I was wearing my floral dress, that I didn't call her for some reason on my way to work that morning... like I always did.
It seems like yesterday that I had a feeling that something was really, really wrong.
It seems like yesterday that I checked flights, before knowing that anything had happened.
It seems like yesterday that my sister called and our lives changed.


I've been journaling about this; this life changing experience because I want to look back and re-read my previous entries and posts and see just where I was. I want to feel what I felt. I want to see if I've "grown". I want to honor her memory and her life by grieving intensely for her. Why?

Because the pain of my loss is so closely associated with the last memories I have of her, of her home, of our "old" life and somehow, being close to even that, even the bad stuff, I feel connected. And sometimes you just want... no, need to feel connected.

I don't know. Grief doesn't make sense.


I just read what I wrote about a year and a half ago, on March 6, 2014: On Grief: almost six months.

Oh man.

Oh man.

I cried my way through this post; remembering it all, sure. But feeling it all, too.

Oh man, I was heartbroken. I was lost. I was so, so, so impenetrably sad. I was trying to navigate my life in some rocky-insane waters and oh man...
"At six months, the Niagara Falls of sobs have been replaced by scattered instances that produce round, full tears that seem to drip from my eyes without me knowing. At any time of day."



So what's it like? What's it like at this year and a half mark? What does it feel like? How am I?

Well, my emotions are somewhat better controlled. In the beginning, you have no control. At least, I had no control. You cry, you stare, you lose your keys, you lose your train of thought... you lose yourself.

Today, the daily functions have returned; I can focus (most of the time), I can multi-task again. I still cry... but I anticipate that I'm going to cry, as opposed to the constant tears that once came out of nowhere... or actually, everywhere.

Yet still, there are the tears.

Like when my sister and I drove away from the closing office after we finalized the sale of her house in December, I could.not.stop.crying.

For months I got to play executor of her estate; I got to take care of the details of her death on a daily, and I mean daily, basis. I felt like it was my last opportunity to do something for her. It was my last opportunity to take care of her. And I had been telling myself that I could finish grieving her once this part of my "job" was done...  once the details were handled. So when it was all said and done, the emptiness and the fear and the gong of grief rung so loudly in my ears that I could do nothing but cry.

And cry some more.


I wrote:

"Her death is ever-present and the shenanigans of my life just keep playing on."
At that time it was so difficult for me that life was moving forward... without her. There was a video of the girls' Christmas performance that she didn't see. There were holidays. What would have been her 60th birthday, didn't happen.

Today, a year and a half later, her death isn't as present in my daily life... instead, her life is present in my daily life.

I think that when you lose someone tragically, unexpectedly... it's all just so fast. Crash. Boom. Life.has.changed. There's no dipping your toe in the waters, you're pushed in, it's freezing, and you've got to figure out how to swim. Fast.

Oh, and you can never talk to your Mom again. EVER.

So, in the beginning the manner in which she died was ever present in my thoughts. It was constant. The details of the accident. The insanity of it all. "She's dead. She's dead? She DIED? She died in a car accident. I can't facetime her because she DIED IN A CAR ACCIDENT."

The death was everywhere. All day. Everyday. Reminders of her death.

Today, her life is everywhere.

Her life is part of my life.


I think of her at least 8 times a day. Minimum.
Making my bed, I think, "Ugh. She hated making her bed."
Making deviled eggs, I think, "She'd love these."
Watching the girls dance and be silly, "She'd love them."

I remember her life all day. I celebrate her life. I miss that she once had life, but I treasure that she lived.

Her death?
I don't go there.

So a year and a half later, her life is part of my life.


Do I think about her death? The manner? The accident? The glass? The blood in the car? Her lone flip-flop that was flung to the passenger side of the car?


I can't.

It hurts too much.


I'll never know why it happened. Or how it happened. I can't Dateline it out. I will never know why.

I think what gives me a shred of peace is that so many people also have unanswered questions about the deaths of their loves ones. I'm not the only one. I wasn't singled out. It's just the way it happened.

So, I neatly wrap that horrendous experience and I put it away. I haven't duct-taped closed that box of memories so that I can't ever see them again. Instead, I only pull out the box when I need to, and then I tuck it away again. I haven't thought, really thought about the why's and the how's in so long.

My heart and my brain now know that this happened. And they both know that sticking your hand, or your heart, in the fire again and again and again once more... is fruitless.


This is where I am at a year a half later.


I wrote at six months:
"I want people to know how incredible she was.
I want people to know that she was funny and smart and witty and cool and creative.
I want people to know that made the best mashed potatoes and that she'd make me an angel food cake balanced on a coke bottle on the kitchen counter for my birthdays.
I want people to know she was my Mom and that she made such a difference in my life and that I'm prouder than proud to be her daughter. 
I want to hear people say her name."

I want people to say her name.

The other day I was having lunch with someone who has become a dear, dear, dear friend - in fact, I don't believe that she and my Mom ever even met, but my Mom knew about her. We got on the topic of the hobbies and projects she used to do when her kids were small. Ceramics came up. She confessed that she had a kiln. I told her, "My Mom had two kilns. In fact, she and my Aunt taught a ceramic class in my Aunt's basement."

She smiled and she said something to the effect of, "That's so funny that Shirley liked ceramics, too."

Her name.

She said her name.

[Chills and tears.]

She was here. She had worth. She was acknowledged.

So, a year and a half later I've learned to say the names of those who we've lost.

Hearing her name... from someone else's lips... it's good for my soul.


A year and a half ago, I was trying to figure out the dreaded and all-too-often-referred-to "new normal." I was trying to figure out how to live my life without my centering force in it. This is the woman I called every morning (except that morning... sigh), and usually every afternoon, on my way home from work and usually every other night.

We were close.

I wrote:

"What I've been repeating to Craig over and over again is, "I just don't understand. I don't understand how someone who has been with me since the beginning of my life... someone who was such an important part of my daily life... is gone. My brain simply cannot rectify how that can happen."
I smile.

And I cry as I read that.

I tilt my head to the side and I say, "Of course you didn't understand... because you couldn't."

I still can't.

But the difference between then and now is that my brain has rectified it.

She's gone. And I'm ok.

And while I would give my hair (that's saying a lot) to see her just one more time. To hug her just one more time. To play skip-bo and to curl the pieces of hair in the way back that she couldn't reach... I know I can't.

And, I get it.

I'm not angry anymore.

I'm not resistant anymore.

This happened.

This happened.


I feel like I'm being so matter of fact about all of this. But the truth of the matter is that my really hard days have decreased. I can get out of bed now. I don't feel paralyzed.

And I'll be honest, there's guilt in that.

If I go days without crying for her, does that mean that her life meant anything less?

I no longer feel an impulse to call her. Does that mean that it's as if she never existed?

What does it say about me that a year and a half later I'm functioning? And doing ok?

Here's what I hope it means:

I hope it means that my Mom, that Shirley, raised a strong and resilient daughter who hasn't been afraid to shrink into a lake of tears and then stand up, wobbly-legged, and.keep.going.

I hope it means that my Mom's daughter learned from her and is keeping her faith and her chin up and is feeling her feelings and is working through this because ignoring this will only cause issues later.

I hope it means that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.


A year and a half later, I'm right where I'm supposed to be.


A year and a half later I've noticed that the way I live my life is different.
I don't get as riled up as I used to.
I don't sweat the small stuff or worry about the stuff I can't change.
I don't expend energy or emotion on what I used to.
I have made a conscious effort to surround myself, and my family, with positive. With light. With happy. With faith. With love.

Life's too short, ya'll.

Life is far too short for toxicity and ick.


Before I wrote this post, maybe about a week ago, I was feeling this strong pang of guilt... I hadn't really thought about my Mom's death a lot. I'd thought about her, but not about all that's happened. My sister and I hadn't talked about it recently... and I wondered if my grieving process had just suddenly halted. I was worried that I'd been ignoring what happened...

...but as I sit and write this, the tears are freely flowing and I realize that I'm doing this grief business how I need to.

I'm crying when I need to.
I'm smiling more.
I'm missing her all.of.the.time.
(But I don't think that will ever go away; nor do I want it to.)

I'm living my life.
I'm living my new life, the one she gave me, without her.


I'll be honest, I didn't know that I could do this.



--The Story of Loss. On Losing my Mom.
September 9, 2013  ::  The day I found out ::  Post here.
September 16, 2013  ::  It's One Week today  ::  Post here.
September 25, 2013  :: The Call  ::  Post here.
September 30, 2013  ::  Slivers of Sunlight  ::  Post here.
October 6, 2013  ::  That first week.Those first days :: Post here.
October 14, 2013  ::  14 days after  ::  Post here.
October 20, 2013  ::  I found a treasure  ::  Post here.
November 4, 2013  ::  She's been gone for 4 weeks  :: Post here.
November 13, 2013  ::  I smile and drive and cry and smile and cry  :: Post here.
November 17, 2013  ::  Weekends aren't easy  :: Post here.
November 26, 2013  ::  The holidays, the firsts  ::  Post here.
December 1, 2013  ::  8 weeks  :: Post here.
December 10, 2013  ::  The Dream  :: Post here.
December 19, 2013  ::  Vulnerability and Moving Forward  ::  Post here.
December 22, 2013  ::  The reminders. They're everywhere  ::  Post here.
December 29, 2013  :: 2013  :: Post here.
January 1, 2014  ::  The New Year  :: Post here.
January 7, 2014  ::  2 days from 4 months  ::  Post here.
January 17, 2014  ::  Another Gift ::  Post here.
January 25, 2014  ::  She would have been 60 today  ::  Post here.
February 9, 2014  ::  Five months  ::  Post here.
March 6, 2014  ::  Almost six months  ::  Post here.
March 27, 2014  ::  One of the Best Gifts Ever  ::  Post here.
April 1, 2014  ::  We're all in this together  ::  Post here.
April 24, 2014 :: 7 Months, Easter and Nope, I'm still not normal.  ::  Post here.
May 6, 2014  :: Mother's Day without a Mom  ::  Post here.
June 1, 2014  ::  Moving "forward"  ::  Post here.
July 6, 2014  ::  Denial & acceptance & blah, blah, blah  ::  Post here.
August 20, 2014  ::  So, I'm 35  ::  Post here.
September 2, 2014  ::  7 days  ::  Post here.
September 8, 2014  ::  The Day Before a Year  ::  Post here.
September 9, 2014  ::  Hello, one year  ::  Post here.
October 11, 2014  ::  The brain is funny  ::  Post here.
November 6, 2014  ::  Love  ::  Post here.
November 30, 2014 ::  Post here.
December 4, 2014  ::  Another feather. Post here.
December 28, 2014  :: All was calm, all is bright. Post here.
January 18, 2015  ::  They're always with us? They're always with us. Post here.
January 25, 2015  ::  And today I remember. Post here.


  1. This is so beautiful, Kylee. So full of love. I can't imagine all you've gone through/continue to go through. She was one lucky mom to have you as a daughter, too. Big hugs to you and your family from Michigan.

    1. Kristin, thanks for your sweet words. And I fully accept your hugs. xo.

  2. Ky - you are so beautiful and your words are so profound. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart with us through this process. Shirley would be insanely proud of you for your grace and authenticity through every single day of this past year and a half. xoxoxo

  3. As always it's like you're taking the words out of my mind when I read these posts. Heartbreaking and real and UGH... being 6 months behind you in a similar journey, it's always interesting to read your posts and feel in my heart so many of the truths you write here. Beautiful as always... xoxoxo

    1. Jos, it means so much to me that my words resonate. I was reading a post the other day... and the girl lost her Mom and I felt like I could have written everything she wrote. I know for me it helps so much to know that others have felt/are feeling how I am. I'm so sorry you have to go through this... xoxo

  4. One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the queen of her life and the choice was hers."

    I know that quote by heart and repeat it to myself everytime things get hard.

    You are a queen, sweet friend. And I love you, and admire you and cannot wait to see you on Wednesday.

  5. I always have to wait to read these at the right time. . . often I have to wait.

    Kylee, I'm so proud of you. I read every word and nodded my head in understanding, pride, and awe of how far you've come. How proud Shirley must be. How amazed I am at the course you are setting for your own girls as they travel the road of life and will face hard times.

    Authenticity. What a gift you are giving to your girls. . . to all of us. . .

    I admire you. I love you.

  6. Oh, HUGS my friend.

    This:"Today, her life is everywhere."

    Oh yes, this. It makes me smile for you reading that. That her life is everywhere around you. That your girls will see her life all around you.

    You are simply amazing.

    The other day I was watching a show and I said "Man, John Goodman reminds me so much of Papaw, I miss him" and literally a minute later he said something about being an old fart. My papaw said that ALL. THE. TIME. It may sound silly, but I just felt like he was there right at that moment...like that comment was for me. Like Papaw was saying I am right here. I know it wasn't, but it still felt like that and it made us laugh which is always what my Papaw did :-)

    It is weird how the sadness is always there for the ones you lost, but you also can't help but want to share them with everyone and share all the wonderful things about them with those around and that can't help but make you smile and feel so close to them!


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