The Process of Grief

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They say there are moments in one’s life that you never forget such as receiving devastating news about a loved one’s deadly diagnosis. Some people say they remember every single detail of such a moment. They say they felt as if they had been punched in the gut and became sick to their stomach. Still, others said they felt numbness all over, and many burst into tears, or fell to their knees. They say colors intensified, or everything turned grey and bleak. Some say the smell in the air was fresh and clean in contrast to the sadness squeezing their heart. Others say they simply couldn’t breathe.

I can’t remember a single detail about the day I found out my Mami was diagnosed with cancer. I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember feeling sadness, shock or disbelief. I don’t remember breaking down into tears or wailing in grief. I don’t recall pulling my hair out or wringing my hands. I can’t describe the room we were in, who was there with us or the weather. I can’t remember what she was wearing, what she smelled like, or who her doctor was. I didn’t fall to my knees. I didn’t start to pray. I didn’t cry. I didn’t speak. I don’t know how she told us that she had been given only three months to live. I didn’t feel anger. I wasn’t in denial, and I can’t re-play the scenario in my head because I can’t recall it.

What I can tell you is, I think of her all the time. I honor her every day in any way I can. I strive to keep her memory alive in the work I do. I cry almost as much as I smile when I think of her. I look at her photo on my desk and give myself permission to feel whatever it is I feel.

It’s been almost seven years since I learned my mother was dying. It’s been six and a half years, seven days, nine hours, and twenty-two seconds since she died of cancer. This, I remember.

By Carmen Milagro

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