At the age of 37, Lauren lost her best friend when her mom passed away from Leukemia. Lauren’s grief is so strong that it even follows her to 30K feet in the sky as a Flight Attendant, which is how she came up with her blog name. Lauren is trying to find balance between her grief and finding her new purpose in life. Creating the grief project, “Cards for Their Memory,” has been a therapeutic way for Lauren to honor her mom and give back to grievers that have experienced a loss like hers. Learn more about Lauren’s grief project here.
And just like that it’s been a whole year. A whole year without my mom. My person. My best friend. Before she passed away, I couldn’t even go a day without even talking to her. I would call her multiple times a day, sometimes without even having a reason for calling. I would just call just to see what she was doing, when I already knew exactly what she was doing.
My mom was diagnosed with Leukemia on May 26, 2019, and passed away on December 13, 2019. As I was going through the motions of the holidays, a New Year, and hosting my mom’s Celebration of Life at the end of January, a worldwide pandemic decided to welcome itself into my early stages of grief. What the heck is a pandemic? Oh you know, that thing that shuts the whole country and world down and quarantines people in their homes. Oh great, exactly what every grievers needs. Isolation!
The first year is the first time you are doing everything without the person you lost. Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day. And all the other things that happen in that first year without them. You are basically learning a new you. Finding a new purpose. Learning to walk all over again. But let’s throw a pandemic on top of that and make your first year of grief even more difficult.
While everyone was in quarantine during the pandemic, I was alone in my mom’s house. Going through her things and cleaning out her home. I wasn’t able to have her friends or my friends come over and open a bottle of wine to make it less painful to clean out her closest. I wasn’t able to escape from the house for a few hours and meet a friend for a workout or to get a pedicure. I was quarantined in my mom’s house without her but with all of her things. Surrounded by all of her stuff, but she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking our favorite meal.
I am walking through this grief journey with a blindfold on during this pandemic, as I think most of us grievers are. A hug goes a long way, but it was months before I was able to receive a hug from one of my friends or mom’s friends. While the country is slowing opening back up, there’s still some cities and states that are on lockdown, and you can’t even go out to dinner. Social events, festivals, concerts, sporting games are still canceled or not open to the public, giving grievers no outlet from their grief.
While I was able to be with my mom when she passed away, and I was able to host a gathering of 80+ people for her Celebration of Life, I know many people that lost their loved one during the pandemic were unable to be with their loved one and/or unable to provide a proper burial or celebration. At the end of the day while I can’t imagine not being able to be with my mom when she passed away, I am able to relate to the isolation of processing your grief and feeling isolated during a pandemic.
As I have been working through my grief and my grief journey, it has taking me in a direction that’s completely out of my comfort zone. Journaling. Writing. Blogging. I also have made some great connections through the social media grief community. I recently developed a grief project called “Cards for Their Memory,” where grievers receive a personalized card from me in the mail on the anniversary date of their lost loved one. The idea of the grief project is to acknowledge someone’s grief and honor their loved one that has passed away.
Shelter-in-place doesn’t have to mean complete and total isolation. Our world today has given us the ability to connect through FaceTime, social media and online communities with our loved ones, friends and other grievers. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box to find a way to have human contact during a pandemic.