Grief has made another appearance. I have been noticing that almost every time I talk about my mother-in-law I feel like I could start to cry. I know what you may be thinking, it’s another case of an annoying in-law. Well, my mother-in-law was far from annoying. Yep, was. She passed away over 4 years ago now. You would think I would no longer get teary-eyed when I think of her, but I do. She was an amazing person. 

I feel extremely blessed to have had her in my life for 14 years. We got along extremely well, we loved to shop together, go out to eat, travel and just hang out. I remember the first time I visited her home, she had the exact same bathroom towels I had. I always thought it was a sign we would get along.

I was getting annoyed that I was still so emotional. Why does it still feel so raw? It’s been 4 years now, shouldn’t I be able to control my tears by now? I should be able to just focus on the happy times now, right? I better not let my husband know, he is going to think it’s weird because it was his mom, not mine. 

There it was – I should all over myself, which is a sign that I am putting expectations on my grief versus accepting where I am at. Instead of beating myself up, I made the conscious decision to talk to myself with compassion, the way I would talk to a client. I reminded myself that the grief I was feeling was normal and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, no right or wrong timeline for my grief. I gave myself the space to cry, to journal/talk about what I missed about my mother-in-law and I encouraged myself to share my feelings with Dave, my husband.

Part of what I realized was this – I was unknowingly not giving myself permission to fully grieve the loss of my mother-in-law. At the time, I didn’t feel like I could show more emotion than my husband. It was an especially difficult time for him when his mother passed because 4 years earlier he had lost his father (who was also an amazing person and father-in-law). Side note: Dave was raised to be brave, strong and power through, so grief was an emotion he tended to avoid.

As I’ve become aware that I wasn’t allowing myself to fully grieve the loss, I want to share some important points about grief:

  • it is a normal part of life
  • it does not follow a set timeline
  • there is not a ‘grief handbook’ to follow
  • there is no right or wrong way to grieve
  • there are no right or wrong emotions
  • friends, relatives, healers, therapists, counselors are great support resources

I also want to remember to practice self-compassion, especially when I am ‘should-ing’ on myself. It is okay that I am still sad, that I still miss her, that I still cry. It just means that I am human, I have emotions and that I am grieving a loss.

Oh, and I did talk to Dave about how I felt, and he reminded me how special and unique my relationship with my mother-in-law was and he doesn’t think it’s weird that I still get emotional. We ended up having a great conversation remembering all the good times the three of us spent together. 

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Winnie the Pooh