The other day I was speaking to a friend whose mother died this past summer. I was reminded again of how often our sadness finds us at unexpected moments, and often in the most ordinary of circumstances. When someone we have loved for many years dies, our minds have to grasp the reality on many different levels. The most obvious level is the cold hard facts of death: the last breath has been drawn, the last words spoken or left unsaid, the beloved's body has been taken from us. The physical aspects of death are difficult enough to comprehend. Yet even when we have coped with those stark realities, our brains are slow to grasp the full meaning of our loved one's eternal absence. Our minds still get caught in the, "Oh, I must talk to ... about that." We see a good movie or read a great book, and suddenly realize that we can't share our find with the one we loved. We begin to realize that pieces of our own history have died with our loved one. There is no longer one who can remember certain events with us, or tell us of our family history, or sing the family songs with us.
It is natural for our sadness to deepen over the first few months of bereavement, not lessen. Our initial searing pain gives way to a much deeper understanding of just how much we have lost, just which aspects of our lives will never be the same again. At the precise time when others are expecting us to be "getting over it," we are, in fact, just getting into it. It usually takes 6 months for us to fully grasp how life has changed, and to grieve all of the losses incurred with the death of our beloved.
My friend is no longer a mother's daughter. She can no longer call up for a recipe or share some news about her own daughters. She is on the journey of bereavement, and the waves of sadness will continue to arrive unexpectedly, for quite some time.