Today I officially start working through Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss , a journey I am taking on with equal parts eagerness and anxiety and a few honest sprinkles of dread.
In the introduction to the book, author Hope Edelman details her own loss. I calm down a bit when I read that Edelman also lost her mom at a young age; now I can view her as less of an expert, although I know she is one of the best in the field, and more of a kindred spirit.
She describes the lack of grief support in the 80s, when her mother died, and outlines the vast improvements in recent decades, new support communities that have formed, more resources available. I realize how fortunate I was to have a small town that embraced me, and I murmur, for probably the millionth time, a prayer of thankfulness for a father that fought for his children's emotional survival.
But mostly, I reflect on these words from Edelman: "Losing my mother wasn't just a fact about me. It was the core of my identity, my very state of being."
It is that thought that hits home the most.
Because I grew up in a small town, everybody knew that my mom died. Everyone grieves together--it's one of the joys (and curses) of living in a tiny, rural community. We hug. We sing. We eat casseroles. We watch each other grow up.
Then I started college where no one really knew me. Next came grad school, and after that, jobs. I tried hard not to talk about my mom, because I believed that my success in life was affected by my mom's death. In other words, I thought any achievement was at least somewhat of a result of someone's sympathy. And the only way to truly guarantee that I achieved this honor/award/grade/job/friendship "on my own" was to keep my past private.
The rational part of me argues that this belief is not true, but grief isn't always rational, is it?
Here's something I never share, but in the spirit of soul searching, I will: When I introduce myself, out loud you might hear, "I'm Lauren Thompson, and I work for ____________." But my inside voice always adds, "And I lost my mom when I was 10."
I think we all have inside voices, parts of our identity that we keep quiet out of fear--of rejection, judgement, or in my case, a false sense of endearment. I'm taking comfort in that this week, not that the inside voices exist, but that we all have them, that we are not alone.
As for my deep-rooted fear that I am loved because of my loss, I know one relationship that I earned "on my own." One of the most beautiful gifts of motherhood is that can't-wrap-our-human-minds-around-it truth that there is living, breathing, precious and often slobbery proof that someone loves you just as you are. I'm taking comfort in that too.
Onward to Chapter 1 next week! Here's the Amazon link if you would like to read with me:
If you're reading this book or have read it in the past, what thoughts jumped out at you as you began?
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