Grief

My mom was the holidays. And the life of every party.

I just survived a one-two-three punch Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas–without my mom. She was my right hand in the kitchen, my gimmel, my Santa Claus. She was my best friend, my mentor, my miracle. She was the curve of my smile. Losing mom during any time of the year would’ve been devastating, but taking her beautiful spirit right before the holiday music started to play left my world deafeningly silent.

Grief has been an ugly earthquake of emotion–anger, sadness, jealousy, devastation, numbness, isolation– that’s left me shaking. I have been especially gutted helplessly watching my baby boy, whom my mom fought so hard to live for, suffer from the ripples of destruction death left in its wake.

Here’s grief, in Alex’s voice:

“Mommy, Mimi was your mommy, right? I can be your mommy now.”

“Mommy, Santa Claus is going to go up to the sky and bring Mimi home where she belongs.”

“Mommy, I have an idea. We can take a rocket ship up to the sky so we can see Mimi again.”

“I want Mimi!”

“Mommy, do you miss Mimi every day?”

“Why is Mimi an angel?”

“Mommy, Mimi made me laugh.”

“Mimi lives in our hearts, right?”

“Mommy, please don’t go up in the sky. I would miss you too much.”

Mimi was hilarious. Alex had a laugh especially for her. I haven't heard it since she died.


Grief is Alex looking out the window during every car ride hoping he will get a glimpse of his grandmother up above. Grief is disturbed sleep, uncharacteristic clinginess, and spontaneous tears. Grief is having no answer for the never-ending question, “Why?” Grief is seeing a grandmother and grandson out holiday shopping and Alex informing them he used to have a grammy but she died. Grief is bringing up memories of Mimi from morning until night. Grief is asking if Mimi will pick him up from school. Grief is the emptiness of looking at photos and videos. Grief is wanting his grandmother’s arms wrapped around him but curling up in mine instead.

Grief swallowed me whole and spit me out. It’s a level of pain I tried to prepare for caring for my Mom as she battled ovarian cancer for nearly twelve years, but it’s worse than I ever imagined.

Grief is raw. It’s like facing a blizzard butt naked.

Grief physically hurts. It makes my head throb, my eyes swell. It turns my stomach inside out. I swear I felt my heart crack when I sat beside my mom as she took her last breath.

Grief is crying in the shower. Screaming in the car. Feeling bad for myself.

Grief is running into my mom’s friends and being happy to see them on the outside, but profoundly sad inside. I can’t help but wonder why they’re here and she’s not. Why are they ringing in 2014 while she’s dead? She belongs here, too.

Grief is isolation. My Christmas date card was empty this year. Who wants Jodi Downer at their table?

Grief is deciding to skip a girls’ night out, even though I really wanted to go, because I feel numb to the sympathetic hugs. I am so tired. Beyond drained. And I can’t face the questions. How am I coping? How did it happen? How are the kids handling it? Am I okay?

Grief is seeing a mother and daughter laughing at the movies and welling up with tears.

Grief is a fu&king nightmare on instant replay.

Grief is being envious of friends who have both of their parents alive and healthy.

Grief is listening to sad songs on satellite radio. Over and over and over.

Grief is trying to make the holidays everything my mom would have wanted if she were alive. It’s sucking up my feelings to smile for the kids, to smile for her.

Grief is clouding my memory of her smile.

Grief is pressure. I took the kids to New York City to see The Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes and to board The Polar Express on Christmas Eve. She would want the kids to do these things, so I did them. For her…and for them. Not for me.

Grief is trying to cut through my sadness with sarcasm. My mom is buried in a Jewish cemetery. I brought her a poinsettia on Christmas day and joked that her neighbors would be upset with the new girl’s fashion faux paus.

Grief makes me hard on people inside of my head. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “You need to be as resilient as your Mom.” “She wouldn’t want you to wallow in sadness.” “She is with you always.” I know they mean well, but I can’t stand these sentiments.

Grief makes me want to run away and start over.

Grief pisses me off. Every. Single. Day.

Grief is looking for a sign everywhere I turn. Mom, where are you?

Right now, grief feels permanent.

Do you know how to deal with overwhelming grief?

This entry was posted in Cancer, Family, Holidays, Jewish, Kids, Life, Mommy, New Year's Eve, New York, ovarian cancer, Parents, Thoughts, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Grief

  1. Michelle says:

    I think of grief like a terrible storm. You hunker down and it rages on and on until eventually it will start to lift a bit. But you have no idea when that will happen. Your storm is likely to be long and fierce because you and your mom were so very close, and she was cheated of a long life by a terrible disease. My heart hurts thinking of what you are going through — I know it is mental and physical.

    I coped with deep grief by day by just throwing myself into work/school, like a machine. Keeping busy kept me somewhat sane. Nights were terrible and sleepless. I prayed, listened to music, and just hated to be alone. It helped to talk to others who missed the person. And I did find comfort and understanding in books about grief and faith. Not sure if this helps at all. Just let yourself feel this and be kind to yourself and do not beat yourself up if you seem stuck or negative. You know what Mom would want for you,and hopefully that is some comfort.

  2. Mel says:

    No. I don’t. It’s a piece of shit. I have no words of wisdom. I’m grieving just reading your entry. Grieving with you as a daughter and a mother. Supposedly it “gets easier,” but I don’t really buy it I think the sharp searing pain just gets a little more dull over time, but pain is pain. I love you, and again, I’m just so sorry.

  3. Jenna says:

    Grief is permanent. It sucks, and it sucks everything out of you and all you can do is keep moving as best you can. Doing things for Alex is the best thing you can do. His questions will slow down, and then you’ll grieve more when he stops asking because you’ll be worried he’s forgetting. There is no solution but that is because you loved each other so completely, and she was a part of you and a part of Alex. All you have is time to help dull the pain. I wish I had an answer, a solution, anything to make it better for you. My heart breaks for you.
    I have the advantage of having 4 years of perspective without mom, and I can get through most days without crying. Not the holidays though. There is no easy way through that. Who the hell wants to celebrate family and spread good cheer when this evil world has taken our moms so unfairly …but what if we never had such wonderful moms at all. We wouldn’t be who we are now.
    Lots of love Jodi. Xo

  4. Lisa says:

    What a powerful post. So heartfelt. I can’t imagine what you’re going through and have no words. Sending strength.

  5. BreAnn says:

    What a beautifully written… but sad post. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jodi! Your mom sounds like such an amazing woman!

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