It’s Sunny in Heaven With a Chance of Meatballs

On July 8, my sweet mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer, and my life will never be the same again.

I’d been vague about it here to respect her wishes of not wanting people to know she was sick again after a wonderful remission last summer, and I don’t know when she stopped reading here, but all I’ve ever wanted to do in life is make my mom proud, so I wasn’t going to not respect her wishes.

I know that I don’t know what’s ahead as far as grief, but I do hope to get back to some semblance of my normal life soon, and that includes writing here more. For the past few months, it felt so disingenuous to write about some! great! workout! when my mom was dying. I’m sure I’ll write more about all of this soon, but I want to read the words I spoke at her wake last night. (Not the funeral, no way in hell could I have gotten up in front of a full church to deliver these without losing it. Or tripping.)

Carol cookie swap

A college friend of mine joked on a trip with my mom that she was six years old. “Well, I’m 4,” my mom replied. Father John yesterday asked us to describe my mom and one of the first phrases that came to mind was light-hearted. She loved Tinkerbell and Cinderella and watching Elf with me.

She touched everyone she met with that light spirit. That some of you only met her once or twice and are here is a testament to that. She loved when I brought friends home, and treated them as though they were her own children — unless they asked for a recipe for her famous, closely-guarded spaghetti sauce. I know she’s making a big pot of it in heaven right now.

She sang me “You Are My Sunshine” as a baby, and it became “our” song. It is no coincidence that the sun shone brightly every time I visited in these tough past seven months, on the day she left us, and every day since. I know that’s her shining down on us.

She was taken from us too early, but we are beyond blessed that the years we had with her were so full of life, and she lives on within us all.

NewImage

Some other posts related to her journey:

Her Daily Burn interview about going into remission

When we learned she was in remission (in a sick twist, it was exactly a year later that she died.)

When we learned she had ovarian cancer

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, where we asked for donations in lieu of flowers today — and an ovarian cancer fact sheet

Her obituary

For anyone else who has lost a parent:

1. Would honestly love any tips on how to navigate the rocky road ahead (ice cream pun intentional: Carol loves ice cream.)

2. Don’t worry, she’s making your parent spaghetti sauce up there. 

74 comments on “It’s Sunny in Heaven With a Chance of Meatballs

  1. Aimee

    It is such a situation. I am so sorry for your loss. Some days it just hits you out of nowhere and you can’t help but cry. Others it helps to feel close to her by making one of her favorite recipes or eating a favorite meal of hers at a restaurant. Drinking her sweet tea. Running a race in her honor last November was a very emotional experience that I would not trade.

    Reply
  2. Rebecca

    I am so sorry to hear this and sending lots of positive and healing thoughts your way. I lost my dad last August after his 3rd bout with cancer. He was in remission, but the treatments and sickness took a toll on his body and he died August 3rd, 2016. We had a tough relationship at the end as his depression from his sickness made him self-centered and sometimes nasty. With that said, I wasn’t ready to lose him and to this day, even the smallest things will make me well up and think about him. Milestones are a bitch; it would have been his 64th birthday in June and it felt especially hard. I think about all of the milestones in my life he’ll miss and that really breaks my heart.

    So advice? I’m for sure no expert yet as it’s just been 11 months since losing my dad, but I’ve been trying to remember the person he raised me to be and work to make him proud. I hold my relationships with others even closer because you just never know when they’ll be gone. I give myself the grace to know that it’s okay to cry when I’m sad and it’s okay to be messed up for, well, ever, because of this. Don’t feel like anything you feel is wrong, weird, out of line, or anything. We all grieve in our own ways, but try to live your life remembering your mother, her spirit, and her love.

    Sending hugs your way!

    Reply
  3. Ali

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I truly wish I had some words to say here to that would make things feel better, but I hope it provides some comfort knowing that many, many people care about you (including a stranger on the internet 🙂 )

    I lost my dad when I was 23, more than 10 years ago. I’m no expert but I know it was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with and that even though I wasn’t sure how I would survive, I can tell you that even though I miss him dearly I do have a good and happy life, and I know you will too. This may not be want you want to hear, but I think it takes at least a full year before you really begin to emerge from the deep grief. Every day won’t be this intense, but I think you need to get through all of the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries without your loved one before you can really start to heal.

    Over the next few weeks things will feel very raw, and it can be hard to shift into “everyday mode” and deal with work, chores, day-to-day stuff, but it can also be nice to have these distractions. Now is the one time in your life that you should be completely selfish — let people know what you need, ask for help, disappear if you need to. Your job is to take care of number one and not worry about anything else. I will admit that I struggled with feeling a bit isolated in the months afterward. I felt like people expected me to be “back to normal” just a few months later and I just wasn’t. I don’t think my friends really understood what it was like (losing a parent was really the only thing I was ever first at, lucky me). Hoping your experience will be a little different, but looking back I wish I had spoken up more about needing support. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, it’s just a process and you’ll know what’s right.

    And I like the image of my Irish dad enjoying a good red sauce right now — he may very well be trying to convince your mom to join him for a round of golf (he was forever promising/threatening to buy me a set of clubs so I’d learn) 🙂

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  4. Suz

    I am so sorry to hear this, all the thoughts and hugs.

    I haven’t lost a parent, but lost a baby at the start of the year. Everyone grieves differently but these are some things that helped me:
    – don’t hide from the sadness. Feeling sad helps you move forward in your grieving
    – the early days are the darkest. It’s ok if you just spend a day (week) on the couch, crying
    – when you feel ready, just try to do one thing a day – it might be doing groceries, or buying a coffee
    – sometimes you’ll do something and expect to feel sad, and won’t. Sometimes you’ll burst into tears out of nowhere, it’s ok
    – the first time you laugh, or go a day without crying you might feel guilty, but you don’t need to. It means your brain is processing it all.

    Grief is not something you get over, but learn to live with. Your mum’s memory will always live on. xx

    Reply
  5. Laura

    You did an amazing job writing that and delivering it beautifully on Tuesday. Your mom did am incredible job raising you. Love you.

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  6. Abby Weiss

    I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I’ve been a reader here for years and was always impressed by the close relationship you shared. I am much older than you are (51) and have struggled to find comfort and closeness with my mom. I am so glad you had what you did and that will remain with you always. She sounded like an amazing mom, and you are a an amazing daughter. Hugs and love to you.

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  7. Julie

    I’m so truly sorry for your loss. It was obvious through reading that you were beyond close to your mom.

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  8. Jamie

    longtime reader here, so sorry for your loss. It was obvious to your blog readers how much you adore your mom. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Reply
  9. Lauren

    Thoughts and prayers with you and your dad. I bet your transparency and honesty are helping a lot of folks out too. This post is such a sweet tribute to her.

    Reply
  10. Victoria

    I don’t have any advice to offer, except that there is no wrong way to grieve so do what you need to. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you.

    p.s. I actually do have advice, eat ice cream, it’s July.

    Reply
  11. Lily

    My heart goes out to you, and your father. I’m so sorry you are experiencing such pain and sadness. Take care and know that you are loved.

    Reply
  12. Debbie

    truly sorry for your loss. I lost my dad soon to be three years ago (really? has it been that long? seems like yesterday. still.). I also lost a brother to brain cancer when he was only 45. & im telling you, submit. submit to all of it. feel all the feels. because you cant un suck the sucky. you can stay busy, you can compartmentalize, you can fill your life to over capacity in order to “cope”, but there is no coping. not really. grief is a bastard & it bides its time. itll get you when you least expect it & sometimes at the worst times (ie when you fall to your knees weeping in the middle of the grocery store after learning your brother has 2 weeks left to live which is less time than the expiration date of the milk youre holding. ask me how I know.) you just have to go w/ the flow & let your own nature take its course. there is no right way or wrong way to grieve as long as you don’t avoid it. so if youre laughing one moment & crying the next. just know, if that’s your way, then that’s your way. it doesn’t get easier, but a new “normal” will take over your life. & slowly you let you be more happy than sad. & however long that takes. months. years. is ok. all my best to you in this new “normal”.

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  13. Sharon

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad two years ago and it is really hard. I recently read the following quote from Bono that said “There is no end to grief and that is how we know there is no end to love” . I think this was so meaningful to me because even after two years I can still get pretty emotional when I hear certain songs, see old pictures, or just for no reason at all….. and you know what…that is ok!!! It is obvious from your blog you had an amazing relationship with your Mom. Just remember she is always going to be with you. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  14. Katie

    I lost my dad about 4 years ago and something that really, really helped was a group called The Dinner Party (http://thedinnerparty.org/) for people in their 20s and 30s who lost someone significant. I was the first of my friends to lose a parent so although I went to therapy, there was just something incredibly healing about walking into a room full of people who I knew instantly got it. Since you’re in NYC I’m sure there are multiple tables and I highly recommend it!

    Megan Devine has an online grief writing group that I really enjoyed. I also really like both of Claire Bidwell Smith’s books (I’m super Type A so for the first year I read every single grief book I could get my hands on, figuring that when I was done, I’d be “done” grieving…total eye roll at my past self).

    Rituals have been really important to me as well. Every year on my dad’s birthday, father’s day, and his death anniversary I try to do something that was important to my dad. Sometimes it’s just going for a hike, but I also like playing “Santa” in ways that I know he’d appreciate. One year I went to a bait shop and paid for worms for anyone who came in that day because my dad loved fishing. I also love buying drinks for random people at bars in his name. It helps me feel like I’m maintaining his connection to the world and also adds another dimension to days that are weird and hard and sad.

    Almost four years out I can tell you that I miss my dad every single day. I cry less, but every now and then I’ll see a movie where a dad dies or a song comes on the radio that just hits me and I burst into tears. I still have to leave during the father/daughter dance at weddings. But going through the hardest parts of life (sometimes it still boggles my mind that the people we love most can just suddenly vanish) adds a depth and beauty to life that I just didn’t have before. I see everything differently. I appreciate the joys of life because now I really know sadness. Not sure if that’s helpful but it makes sense in my head :).

    Love to you and your family during this difficult time.

    Reply
    1. Theodora

      @Katie:
      Which of her books do you think would be better to start with? She’s come highly recommended.

      Also I totally get the appreciating the joys of life through knowing deep sadness. The night before she passed, I had a beautiful night with my friends. Nothing crazy or particularly poignant — we were out in Montauk watching the sunset and then came back to our house and lit sparklers and drank rosé on the beach. It was a small beautiful moment that I might have otherwise not appreciated if I hadn’t been in so much pain, you know? I feel like I really look for and appreciate beauty now.

      I put my name on the list for the Dinner Party already and am waiting for a table. Do you think it would be too overwhelming for someone so fresh to loss to host?

      Reply
      1. Katie

        @Theodora: I started with The Rules of Inheritance. Warning: have all the tissues ready :).

        I started hosting about 1.5 years after my dad died. The one thing I will say is that when you host, it’s more about providing the space/opportunity for others to connect versus when you’re a participant, there’s more of a chance to focus on your own grief, if that makes sense. But, that’s the thing about loss – everyone is different! If you’re feeling up for it, I’d say go for it. Plus, TDP is great about providing you with resources – I actually had a co-host for a while, which was the best. We’d trade off planning/organizing and it allowed us each to be “just” participants sometimes.

        Love your insta-stories about grief/loss. Part of what makes the experience so isolating is how our culture basically refuses to talk openly about it! So, props for helping to change that :).

        Reply
  15. Kelsey

    I am so very, very sorry for your loss. I’m a long time reader, and through the years I’ve always loved hearing about your relationship with your mom. I could always tell that she was your best friend, and I thought – “I want to have that relationship with my mom!” She must have been a beautiful person.

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  16. Alison

    I’m sorry for your loss. Cancer sucks and so does losing a parent in your 30’s. My Dad died in September from small cell lung cancer and honestly my only advice is to live in the moment. Not everyone is going to be great or suck but stay there. It’s when you get too far ahead or look back that it really hurts. Oh and friends and beer and pups and saying FUCK really loudly have all helped. The ache stays but those things make life okay. Grief is also a bitch and rears her head in many forms, just go with it and give yourself a pass on somethings. Unfortunately you have to make it your own. It helped me to talk to a friend who lost a parent the same way. If I want to scream I can call her, or even drink wine and shoot the shit without feeling guilty I can call her. Sending all of the prayers and good vibes to you and your family. This sucks and I’m sorry.

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  17. Lesley

    Longtime reader and so sorry to hear about your mom 🙁 I am the same age as you and lost my mom a couple years ago. You’re right to say it will get better, because it will, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss her every.single.day.
    My biggest advice to you is don’t stop asking for support. In the immediate wake of death, it’s almost easier because you’re busy and have so much support around, but I found the few weeks/months after her death, when the calls/texts slow down, is when I really felt the grief set in (having free time to think is not always the best).
    Do things that make you happy and remember to take care of yourself – this is what your mom would want.

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  18. Amy

    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my mother to cancer (F-cancer!) 6 years ago and I still miss her every day. I’ve been reading your blog longing enough to know what you’ve been going through these last few months, mainly by what you haven’t said. My mom, too, didn’t want her illness to be all over social media. After 6 years, here is what I can share:
    – Though I still miss my mom every day, I don’t ache in the same way every day.
    – I cried pretty much nonstop for the first few months, but that gets better with time (and you just run out of tears for awhile!)
    – My memories (and pictures) of my mom make me smile more than cry now
    – I can hear a song and immediately think of my mom and know she is singing along with me
    – I visit the beach every year on certain days to feel closer to my mom (who rests with me and at the Jersey Shore, where she last lived)
    – When I see Blue Herons or Egrits, I know my mom is with me
    – I got a lot closer to my father, which was an unexpected blessing during the tough times
    – My friends and family were important supports, especially during the first few months
    – You just have to live through the grief – and that part is not fun.

    You and your father are in my thoughts.

    Reply
  19. Nancy

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dear mother. You asked for advice; here are some things I learned: Be very gentle with yourself, and patient. Let others help if they offer. Some days will be worse than others, and you won’t always know why.

    Practically speaking, a grief group was helpful for me, not only for the support but also because it gives a practical look at the grieving process. That logical approach helps give a sense of control at a time when so much is out of control. There is an image I first saw in my grief group, I can’t paste it in the comments, showing “how we want grief to work” as a straight line with beginning and ending points and next to it “how grief actually works” as a line all jumbled up in a knot with an arrow on the end, because although things get better, grieving is a process that continues.

    Intense grief comes from great love, and you will carry your mom’s love with you always! My sympathy to you and your family.

    Reply
  20. Sarah

    I’ve been reading for a while hoping that things would turn around. So very sorry for your deep loss. I hope you find some peace.

    Reply
  21. Trina

    I’m so sorry to read about your mom’s death. She sounds like she was a special woman!

    I lost both of my parents last year, within a 5 month span. My mom had metastatic breast cancer, and my dad had heart disease. I miss them both terribly, but am happy they are free of pain, and cherish my memories of them we made all through the years.

    My advice on how to navigate grief? Cry when you need to, laugh when the opportunity arises, and know that the feelings you experience are normal no matter when or how they manifest themselves.

    Expect acquaintances you never new cared about you to be your biggest champions and support system. And, unfortunately, expect that maybe a few of your closest friends may appear to abandon you in your darkest times. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, but if it does, know that it’s their discomfort with grief and death – it’s not you.

    Grief is part of healing. Ride the wave, ask for help when you need it.

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  22. Jocelyn

    I’m so sorry Theodora. Your Mom seemed like a wonderful , amazing woman. Thinking of you and your family.

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  23. Rachel

    Oh, Theodora, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad six years ago, and it changed my life, too. Everyone’s grief journey is different, so first, don’t compare your grief to someone else’s and wonder why you aren’t feeling how they’re feeling. Give yourself the grace to feel EXACTLY what you need to feel, when you need to feel it. Don’t be afraid to tell the people around you EXACTLY what you need from them – you may need to talk about your mom, or you may need to be distracted, or you may need to just cry while someone holds you, or you may need to go for long runs with friends to give yourself the mental space to try to process things. People won’t know what to say, so they may say nothing out of fear of upsetting you – which can feel very isolating. Once the dust settles and everyone else moves on with their lives, that may be when you most need support – so please don’t be afraid to ask for it. Be prepared for ups and downs – some days will feel almost normal and some will be crushing. This WILL get better with time, though, I promise. Be patient with yourself and speak to your mom often – I firmly believe she hears you and is with you always (although it took me a long time to feel confident in that, so again, give yourself grace to doubt, question, fear, and ultimately you will work through your journey in your time). Lots of love and prayers to you and your family.

    Reply
  24. nic

    I’m so sorry. I’ve enjoyed your blog for fitness/running stories but I also always loved what you wrote about your parents and your mom, in particular. She was such a wonderful cheerleader for you and I could tell how proud she was of you. Big hugs.

    Reply
  25. Katy

    so sorry for your loss. I’ve heard the book Option B which talks about grief is supposed to be excellent. Hugs to you and your dad.

    Reply
  26. Maureen

    I am so sorry for your loss Theodora, I’m a long time reader and it has always been clear how close you were to your mom.

    You have gotten some wonderful advice above, and I am only reiterating some of what has been said. But, my dad died 10 years ago when I was 24 (after his second bout with cancer) and here’s what I’ve learned…….
    Above all else everyone processes grief differently, because their relationship with the person and their history was different. My grief, as his oldest daughter, is different than my younger sisters, is different than my mom who lost her spouse of 25 years, is different than my grandmother who lost her oldest child. No two people grieve the same, nor should they be expected to. So I encourage you to be congizant that the experience you are having and will have in the coming months and years will different than others and that is ok.

    The other thing is that I can’t stress asking for help enough. This has actually been the hardest part for me, in large part because my father’s death immediately put me in a different stage of life in some ways than my friends who didn’t know what to do or say. But if you need help, if you want to talk about your mother, or you don’t want to and you literally want a distraction than say so. Call a friend, talk to your father, a colleague, speak up and be honest about how your feeling on that given day (in that moment) and be clear about your needs. That’s the other thing give yourself the grace to be selfish right now and do what you and your father need. I unfortunately had people in my life that put expectations on my grief and how I “should” act and needless to say our friendship ended. Do what you need to do to get to the next day, because you will.

    Recognize that sometimes your going to think you’re ok in a moment or an event and suddenly you won’t be. Of course anniversaries of my father’s death, father’s day, his birthday and big holidays suck but if I’m going to be honest I find those in some ways less painful (now) than the little moments because I can prepare for them a little bit and I find, especially now with two young children, that holidays tend to be chaotic and busy and it’s not that I forget that my dad isn’t there or that I don’t miss them but the “big” days tend to go by in a blur. For me, the moments that are still hard and filled with deep grief are the most unexpected……..it’s a song on the radio when I’m driving that reminds me of my dad, or my child unexpectedly asking about him, or a really good run that I just want to call and tell him about. For me, even 10 years later those unexpected moments are still hard and I like to think they always will be because it’s a constant reminder of how much I love my dad.

    AI am so sorry for your loss Theodora, I’m a long time reader and it has always been clear how close you were to your mom.

    You have gotten some wonderful advice above, and I am only reiterating some of what has been said. But, my dad died 10 years ago when I was 24 (after his second bout with cancer) and here’s what I’ve learned…….

    Above all else everyone processes grief differently, because their relationship with the person and their history was different. My grief, as his oldest daughter, is different than my younger sister, is different than my mom who lost her spouse of 25 years, is different than my grandmother who lost her oldest child. No two people grieve the same, nor should they be expected to. So I encourage you to be cognizant that the experience you are having and will have in the coming months and years will different than others and that is ok. Do not put pressure on yourself to grieve a certain way, nor should you let others do the same.

    The other thing that I can’t stress enough is learn to ask for help. This has actually been the hardest part for me, in large part because my father’s death immediately put me in a different stage of life in some ways than my friends who didn’t know what to do or say. But if you need help, if you want to talk about your mother, or you don’t want to and you literally want a distraction then say so. Call a friend, talk to your father, a colleague, speak up and be honest about how you’re feeling on that given day (in that moment) and be clear about your needs. That’s the other thing give yourself the grace to be selfish right now and do what you and your father need. I unfortunately had people in my life that put expectations on my grief and how I “should” act and needless to say our friendship ended. Do what you need to do to get to the next day.

    Recognize that sometimes you’re going to think you’re ok in a moment or an event and suddenly you won’t be. Of course anniversaries of my father’s death, father’s day, his birthday and big holidays suck but if I’m going to be honest I find those in some ways less painful (now) than the little moments because I can prepare for them a little bit and I find, especially now with two young children, that holidays tend to be chaotic and busy and it’s not that I forget that my dad isn’t there or that I don’t miss him but the “big” days tend to go by in a blur. For me, the moments that are still hard and filled with deep grief are the most unexpected……..it’s a song on the radio when I’m driving that reminds me of my dad, or my child unexpectedly asking about him, or a really good run that I just want to call and tell him about. For me, even 10 years later those unexpected moments are still hard and I like to think they always will be because it’s a constant reminder of how much I love my dad.

    Find ways to honor your mother’s memory, establish new routines or rituals and find ways to keep her present in your life. Personally my mother, sister and I over the course of 2 years made three quilts out of some of my father’s clothes. Today, it’s one of my most valued possessions and has served to open up conversations about my father with my children who play with that quilt daily. On my father’s birthday I make sure I listen to music he enjoyed and buy a special beer to toast to him. On the anniversary of his death my mother, sister and I always get together for dinner to reminisce and talk. Finding ways to celebrate and remember your mother might be helpful to you.

    And finally, and this was the hardest thing for me to begin to grasp when I was in the early days after my dad died but it will be ok and life will go on. The sun will rise, you will survive and your life will be happy and full of love and laughter again, I promise. Ten years removed from my father’s death I don’t cry as often as I once did, I met my husband, got married and had two children all after my dad died and though I still miss him terribly my life is wonderful and I am happy. Your mother’s death has and will change your life in profound ways, but you will find a new normal.

    Reply
  27. Rachel P

    I am so sorry. I lost my mother the last week of April. I suspect it will never be the same, and it all becomes a new sort of normal that we have to figure out. I don’t have any advice – but rather I wanted to say thank you for sharing. Your openness is so encouraging, and it has allowed me the insight and guidance of your generous readers. Three things that I have done since she passed that remind me she’s always with me:

    1. I had one of my favorite photos of the two of us printed and framed. It sits on my desk so when I write and work she’s there with me (I usually start my mornings with a, ‘hey girlfriend…’ when I look at it).
    2. I wear a piece of her jewelry every day. I love catching a glimpse of it throughout the day.
    3. I came to terms with that fact that this really plain old SUCKS. You should be sad right now. You’re supposed to be sad. And when someone asks you how you are doing you have every right to tell them, “This sucks and I’m sad, but I won’t always be sad.” It’s incredibly freeing.

    They are tiny things, and sometimes they cause me a boatload of tears on command, but I’d like to think they are helping me in some small way.

    Continue to find joy in the small things. xo

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      This is helpful, thank you <3 I need to have a pic of us on my desk, that's a great idea. I have a pic of us on my phone as my lock screen, and I have sort of mixed emotions. Sometimes it brings me pain, sometimes it brings me joy. And, I have a ring of hers that she lent me for my Junior League ball a few months ago that I never gave back to her (while she was still with it she said "I'm not getting this back, huh?" nope!) and it means a lot that she picked it for me, too.

      Reply
  28. Kashi Davis

    Longtime reader as well — so very sorry to hear about your loss. Sending my best wishes to your family at this time.

    Reply
  29. Elisabeth

    I haven’t lost a parent, so I have no words of wisdom for you, but as a long time reader, I just want to say how sorry I am for your heartbreaking loss. I could tell how close you were with your mom (mine is my best friend!) and know how hard this must be on you. I am sending prayers to you and your family. Hugs!

    Reply
  30. katie

    Love to you. For my friends who have lost parents I try to listen while they rage. Sometimes its completely out of context what brings them memories or grief.

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  31. Kate

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I think the depths of your relationship with your mom came through so well in your posts over the years that I too envied the special closeness you had. There’s nothing I can add to all the good advice above about grief except to reiterate be gentle with yourself, feel all the feelings, allow others to help support you, and the only way through is through. Sending all my thoughts your way.

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  32. Emily

    I am so very sorry for the void you must now be feeling at the loss of your mom. My mom was diagnosed earlier this year with stage IV lung cancer and I’ve gone through so many ups and downs and imagining what this day would feel like. I have no idea how much longer I will have with my mom, but I am in tears imagining what you must be going through. Thank you for your honest and open sharing, I know this is an impossible time. I hope you find comfort in your friends and family and strength as try to navigate this new world without your rock. Much love and strength coming your way.

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      A void is the perfect way to put it. There is a giant mom-shaped hole in my life. And I am so sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis, too. It is so hard watching the one who took care of you your entire life need so much care.

      I don’t want to give unsolicited advice, but I definitely have some ideas of things that helped me/I wish I’d known before the end with my mom, so feel free to email me – theodora@preppyrunner.com. I really really want to pay it forward and help others through their pain as so many have been helping me <3

      Reply
  33. Laura

    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss, Theodora. As a fairly new runner, I’ve been following your blog for the past few years, and your mother sounded like an incredible woman. You and your family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Reply
  34. Christie

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I don’t have any words of wisdom or anything that might try to fill that void in your heart but know that it will take time. Like any grieving process, you will have days that will feel “ok” and days when you think you might crumble under the weight of the sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Try to honor your mother in only the way you know how and keep putting one foot in front of the other, enjoying the sunshine along the way.

    Reply
  35. Laura

    Hi Theodora. So sorry for your loss. I lost my Mom to ovarian cancer 9 years ago, she was 53 and I was 21 at the time. It was a situation similar to yours- she was in remission 14 months before her death.

    I wish I could say the pain of the loss gets easier, but it’s more that you learn to live in the new normal. My grief used to hit me the hardest when I just plain missed her, now it’s the hardest when I reflect on what she has missed out on my and my siblings lives (graduations, bar calls, weddings). The only real advice I have is to just try not to get so bogged down in it that you can’t enjoy the awesome stuff life has to offer. I’m thinking of you and your family.

    Reply
  36. Nora

    I lost my mother when I was 14, 20 years ago this year. Most will read that number and think that at this point in my life I should be “over it” but even reading the title of your blog takes me down. I didn’t truly deal with it for years, mainly because as a teenager I didn’t have coping mechanisms in place. But I moved on in appearance quickly. I urge you to mourn however you see fit, but don’t hide it away. It will come back to haunt at the wrong times. But of course time will take the sting away, and that’s the worst, the waiting for that to dull the pain.

    All the milestones in your life will feel incomplete. I had my first, and only, child this year and the whole process was very bittersweet. But try to think about the situation as if she was there and how it would be different how she would add and even take away. My sister and I like to remember the good and the bad, to remember all parts of her. Like laugh about her horrible outfits that she would take us to school in. I also like to continue living things as if she was experiencing them with me.

    Losing a parent makes me see the whole world as much more fragile. My dad is currently battling brain cancer and I feel far too young to be without both of my parents.

    F**K cancer.

    oh, pets help 🙂

    Reply
  37. Wendy

    i’m so very sorry for your loss. it is obvious how close you were to your mom, esp as an only child, it leaves a different kind of void.

    sending you virtual hugs

    Reply
  38. Tracy

    I am sorry for the void in your heart and soul right now. As someone who lost there mother to breast cancer after she battled my whole life, 23 years before passing I will tell you this…your life is a new “normal” and something not many can relate to.

    I was the first of my friends to lose a parent in the most crucial time in my life. I recommend a few things and you can always shoot an email my way if you ever want to talk..because that is the first thing…Find someone similar so you can speak freely and not feel like being “judged” or “misguided” through friends who can’t understand. (tracy_schwartz@ymail.com)

    Next, feel everything. Cry when you want. Scream when you want. Please don’t, compartmentalize, it won’t be good in the long run ( something I wish I knew when my mom passed)

    Grief, just like cancer doesn’t discriminate and you will be overcome with it when you least expect it. Accept it with open arms and move forward slowly allowing your mind and body to process.

    My hobby was playing tennis and right after my mom passed I vowed to stick with it and that first year I did. Whatever hobby you have do that, don’t just throw yourself into work. You need to take care of yourself. You need to be your best self, because as cliche as it is….your mom would want that. I know it burns to hear but it’s true.

    Once you stop feeling numb you will feel so many emotions all at once. Process them.

    One day at a time. Take life one day at a time.

    Reply
  39. Liz O

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad to cancer 3.5 years ago… in some ways it feels like ages and other times, like yesterday. We were so very close, as it sounds like you were with your mom, and I talked with him daily. I’d recommend the book “Healing after loss” by Martha Whitmore Hickman. It has brief daily quotes/thoughts and I found it to be something I looked forward to reading…the passages are short, but meaningful and often resonated with me or helped even understand what I was feeling.

    I wish I could say it gets easier, but I do think time takes away the sting. I will always dearly miss my Dad and feel like he was taken too soon (I was 36) but the tears don’t well up as quickly these days and I can enjoy recalling good memories and laugh at old jokes. My second daughter was born in October and it’s no mistake she has his Irish blue eyes, blonde hair and fair skin despite my husband & 5 year olds dark brown hair & eyes. I know my Dad sent her to us Be kind to yourself, spend time with family and good friends, and keep running! I’m a runner and undoubtedly pounded out a lot of grief!

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Thank you, I will add that book to my reading list.

      This morning while running, I was thinking about that — recalling the good memories. I had been reliving so much of the past hellish 6 months in my head and started thinking that she was so so much more than that.

      Reply
  40. Liz O

    PS- save any voicemails you have from your Mom! There is nothing I miss more than hearing my Dad’s voice…and even a mundane voicemail from him makes me smile ☺️

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      My mom was THE BEST in so many ways…but so many of her voicemails were like back-to-back within 5 min of each other “where are you? I haven’t heard from you”…that I had already deleted a lot of them before a friend told me this when she was sick :/ . I still need to figure out if there’s a way some of them are hiding in the cloud somewhere.

      Reply
  41. Lauri

    I have been reading your blog for a couple of years, and my heart goes out to you, your father and your family right now. I have no words of wisdom or advice for you, just know that you are in the prayers of many at this time.

    Reply
  42. Katie B

    Theodora, I don’t know what to say…but I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you and sending you strength to navigate this new territory. You are so loved.

    Reply
  43. Amy

    When I saw this on Instagram my heart broke for you. I never met your mom, but knew her through your writing and she was a lovely lady. I have helped many people with loss and my best advice is,:Don’t worry about “getting over it”, you won’t and you don’t have to. Any one who implies differently has not suffered a significant loss. You have to find your new normal. Life will be good again even though it will be different. You will be happy again, though you will always think “I need to tell mom this!”. The good news is that you can tell your mom still. And know that she is watching over you and still your biggest cheerleader. Be kind to yourself and gentle to yourself. Sleep well, eat well, and try to laugh every day in honor of your mom.

    Reply
  44. Tracy

    I’m so sorry, Theodora. I’ve been following your blog for a while so I feel like I know you even though I obviously don’t.

    My brother died 2.5 years ago. It was awful. I was in shock and numb for months but it would randomly hit me at times, especially after the services when everyone else was back to their normal lives and I was left trying to figure out how to live my life without one of my best friends.

    One good piece of advice I got was not to think too far ahead. To just think about what I needed to do to get through that day, or the next, and not think about things like how I was going to deal with my brother not being at my future wedding or meeting my future husband or kids.

    I hated when people said to me “I can’t even imagine what you’re going through” because all I could think was, how LUCKY that you don’t have to imagine this hell.

    If you ever want someone to email who has been through the pain of losing an immediate family member, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m sure you have other resources, but I heard from a few random people who had lost their siblings when mine died and it meant a lot to me and I’ve always made it a point to pay that forward.

    Reply
  45. Cynthia

    My mom died unexpectedly four years ago. I was 29. She had had leukemia, but a stem cell transplant had cured that (literally two weeks before her death her oncology team said ‘see ya in 2 years for your ten year review.’). She had had lung issues before the cancer, and after her transplant she continued to get pneumonia usually once a year. Quite common. In 2008 she had had a respiratory event, ended up in hospital and sedated, so when she ended up back in hospital in 2013, I thought “whatever, it’s fine, it’s just like before.” And within days she was gone and I didn’t get to be there. I live abroad, and by the time I was told her lungs were failing, she was gone before I got home.

    You don’t get used to them being gone, but eventually your patterns adjust. You no longer instinctively reach to tap their number on your phone (the first time I started to call her before realising, I think a bit of me died further) and you get used to not hearing their voice. That doesn’t mean you accept it or like it, but habits will change over time.

    I wrote a piece on my Facebook page the morning after she died that I loved. I had grabbed my ipad and just started writing and I’m still so proud of it. But I hated the eulogy I gave. Four years later and I still regret that. Some things won’t leave.

    Reply
  46. Cynthia

    Also, you may get angry when people tell you they know how you feel. And that anger/irritation is okay. The number of times I had to bite my tongue from snapping at someone who was grown up with a (grown) family of their own who had lost their elderly parent and compared it to my mother passing…well, it was a lot.

    Reply
  47. Alycia

    Hi Theodora. I have been a reader for several years now, but rarely comment. I had to reach out now though to say I am so sorry for your loss!

    My dad died 15 years ago yesterday of lung cancer. I can’t say the pain and loss ever gets better, but it does eventually get easier. The good memories hang around forever and love never dies.

    Big hugs to you, I’m so sorry!

    Reply
  48. Elizabeth F

    I’m a long-time reader, rare commenter, but also wanted to reach out and say that I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I lost my mom a little over 21 years ago, when I was 9, to liver cancer, and I’ll echo those above who have said that it never totally leaves you. I found myself crying just last week, on her birthday. For me, it comes in waves–I didn’t think about it much for a while, partly because I was so young, but over the past few years I’ve found myself getting way more emotional on Mother’s Day and on the anniversary of her death. Don’t be afraid to feel what you feel, whatever that may be, and to reach out to those close to you for support. I remember feeling really weird a few years ago telling my then-boyfriend, now-husband that Mother’s Day was hard, because it felt like, years after her passing, I shouldn’t have a hard time with it anymore. He basically told me that was ridiculous and I could feel exactly what I was feeling, which was such an important thing for me to hear (and continues to be an important thing for me to hear). So I’ll say it to you–let yourself feel what you feel, whenever you feel it, and know that there will be really hard days, and better days.

    And my mom used to sing “You are my Sunshine” to me every night before I went to bed–it always makes me think of her too.

    Reply
  49. Katie

    I lost my mom when I was 26 and my dad when I was 31 (only 3.5 years apart – I had birthdays in between). Honestly, there’s not much anyone can say that can prepare you., since everyone’s journey is unique. The most important thing is to not feel bad about yourself regardless of how you are feeling in a moment. It’s ok to be sad and angry but it’s also ok to laugh and joke too. For me, it was a VERY long road until I felt anything resembling ok again after losing mom – over two years.

    I’d also recommend checking out this comment – https://www.reddit.com/r/Assistance/comments/hax0t/my_friend_just_died_i_dont_know_what_to_do/c1u0rx2/ It’s the most accurate description of grief I’ve ever seen.

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      I had heard of that comment and actually the counselor I talked to yesterday mentioned it too — it is really amazing, and I think waves in general are SUCH a good analogy for all of this. A friend also shared this podcast with me that resonated a lot: https://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-18-it-comes-in-waves/

      I think what I wasn’t prepared for, no matter how much counseling, anticipatory grief and preparation, was the huge range of emotions I could feel just within one day. Or even…one hour.

      Reply
  50. Lemon

    The end of this really got me. I love that your mom is making my dad meatballs right now. Thinking of your family now and always. <3

    Reply
  51. brittney

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. My dad died suddenly when I was 22 (10 years this fall) and while I think everyone is different here are some things that helped me. Take any pressure or should or should not’s from your vocabulary. It’s incredibly hard and lonely to lose a parent years before your friends do. I sometimes felt bad about grieving or enjoying time with friends, or wanting to be alone.. etc. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling. It will ebb and flow and that’s okay and normal. I didn’t tell those around me what I needed but now I wish I had. I think our society struggles to support those who are grieving and one way we can make change that is to let people know what we need. I also really tried to find a way to remember my dad- especially on those harder days. Christmas, his birthday, father’s day, the day he died. And while some people like to have something concrete- it doesn’t have to be. Also, everyone grieves differently and your family members and you might need different things. I struggled with this but wish I had had more compassion for their own processes. Don’t ever apologize for your tears. It’s sad and heartbreaking. You might find yourself triggered by things you had no idea would be triggering. Again, I’m so sorry.

    Reply
  52. Julie B.

    I’m so sorry to hear this. She sounds like an amazing person and it completely sucks that the world is now without her. 🙁

    Reply
  53. Runak

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I wish there were words I could say that would make things easier but there aren’t any. Just remember the good times you had with her. 🙁

    Reply
  54. Katelynn

    I’ve read you blog for quite some time, but never commented. I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my father to cancer in 2008. It will get easier, not better, but easier. Sending positive vibes your way from NJ ( which is close o they’ll get to you fast and with great strength!

    Reply

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