There are different ways to cope with grief and loss. I want to share a story about a young woman I worked with whose mother had died recently. She said to me between tears, “I miss my mother.” I thought of a question that I once heard from the author Byron Katie. I asked, “Are you feeling sad right now as you think of your mother, or are you feeling love?” There was no judgment implied in the question, but in that moment, she smiled and said, “I feel love.”
That seemed like a great starting place for her, so I followed up. “What are some ways that you can continue to feel love for your mother even though she died?” She thought about it for a moment then pulled out a photograph of her mom and showed it to me. She said, “When I look at the photograph, I can connect with her and feel love.” I said, “That’s beautiful. How else?” She said, “Well, my [younger] brother, he looks like her.” “Every time I look at him I kind of think of her.” I said, “That’s beautiful. When you are with your brother you can love your mom through him. What else?” “Well, I guess, when I look at a mirror, because I kind of look like her.”
I extrapolated from that and said, “You know, really, even if you tried not to feel connected with her… or if you thought you could possibly miss her, if you just realize that half of you is your mother… you come from her… half of you is her, so you can never really get away. You are her in that sense.” For her, that did make sense. She really resonated with that idea.
There is a question I like to ask sometimes at the end of meetings. “What did you learn or get out of this session?” Her answer was “I realized I never need to miss my mother again.”