Posted by: Kathy | June 20, 2013

Living in the Present

A comment from Denise on my last post gave me an idea. She commented that she was happy that I was living in the present. Her words made me realize just how long I had been living in the past.

Grief has a way of pulling you back into the past, and if you’re not careful you can get stuck there. I did. When my mom first died, I thought about her all the time, wishing she was still with us and remembering times we spent together. I was haunted by the last night of her life, reliving those hours over and over in my mind. I remembered every detail of the morning she died and the funeral. I was filled with guilt over things I wish I had done and many things I wish I hadn’t. I was consumed by pain and grief, and without even realizing it, I was stuck in the past.

For months I went through the motions of life without really living. I did my job. I took care of my kids. I lived what appeared to be a normal life. But my heart and mind weren’t in the present. Grief had sucked them into the past, and I longed for the days when my mom was still with us. I cried constantly in private because I didn’t want my kids to see my pain. I shut myself off from the world and didn’t come out of hiding for several years. Physically I was present, mentally I drifted between the past and present, and emotionally I was living in the past. My heart ached, but I did my best to hide the pain. I actually believed I was hiding my pain fairly well. But I wasn’t hiding anything from those who knew me best.

Slowly I started to become more connected to the present emotionally. I found happiness in little things – a joke from my son, a hug from my daughter, watching a movie with my family, or spending time talking with a friend who accepted me for exactly who I was at that moment. I knew I wasn’t living the life my mom would have wanted for me. She would have wanted me to be happy and not continuously mourning her death. Acceptance that my mom was not coming back was a huge step for me. Once I took that step in my heart and mind, I started to truly heal.

I don’t think I’ll ever completely heal. It’s hard to heal from watching someone you love die slowly from something you can’t do anything about. It’s difficult to think about the way life could be if my mom were still here and to realize all she has missed in the lives of her family since she died. It makes me angry that pancreatic cancer stole my mom from us. But true acceptance of what has happened helped me to move forward and move into the present. I still think about my mom every day. I still miss her. But I am now living again, and living fully in the present. It’s a good place to be, and most of the time I feel at peace.

Thank you, Denise, for the inspiration.


  1. kathy-
    i’m catching up on your blog today!! all of what you say is true for me too. sometimes I stop & replay the entire week leading up to my dad dying — it was such a blur, yet i remember it with such clarity. it breaks my heart to remember, but i don’t want to forget either. & sometimes i dream about him, not often — but i can always find the “hidden” meaning. i keep his picture on my desk & everyday i look at it & shake my head b/c 15 months later, i still can’t believe he’s gone. & every night before i fall asleep i think about him & i tell him that i love & miss him.

  2. Thank you Kathy, your words do help 🙂
    love n ((hugs))
    Nick xxx

  3. what a great post Kathy 🙂
    I know exactly how you felel and what you are saying is almost like hearing myself speak the words.
    I’ve been trying to live for now, and not dwell on things I should have /shouldn’t have /could have done, and trying not to think about the last few months of Mum’s life.. and to a certain extent I’ve been quite successful, but tomorrow is the 2 years anniversary of the last time I saw my Mum although her actual anniversary is the 14th July, for me it’s tomorrow and these last few days have been very emotional.
    I can’t stop myself thinking about the last few months of her life, all her hopes and aspirations, and I feel so so sorry that she never had the chance to enjoy the benefits of her surgery.
    I’m so Kathy, I can’t write any more now, the memories have just hit home.. hard 😦

    I think it’s great that you are managing to progress, I hope that once this time is over I can join you where you are now.
    Take care, and thanks for your words, you might not think it, but they are very comforting 🙂
    love n hugs
    Nick xxx

    • Thanks Nick. The days leading up to the anniversary of my mom’s death are still hard for me too. I get sucked into the past. I always take the day off from work. For me, it’s a day to honor and remember my mom. No matter what, no matter how far we move forward, no matter how much we heal, we will always miss our moms. They were very special and important to us. I think of how my mom never got to enjoy the benefits of retirement. She worked so hard, finally retired, and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had so many plans – traveling with my dad, spending time with her granddaughter. I hope and pray that the coming days and weeks aren’t too hard for you. You’re not alone in the way you feel. I write these words in my post and they are true, but I still deeply miss my mom and always will. Take care.

  4. I lost my mom in January 2012 and for so long felt like I was just going through the motions. Those first few months (ok, let’s face it — that first year) went by in a blur. And then as I was driving home from work one day this past March or April, I realized that the sky wasn’t dark anymore…I could see the highway in front of me and didn’t have to turn on my headlights. I don’t know the exact moment when it happened — but spring had arrived. I think that grief is very similar…there’s no grand revelation or certain moment of clarity, but one day you look around and you are able to see the light surrounding you. I’m glad you’ve found it 🙂

    • Hi Jen: I can relate to so much of what your wrote. I like what you said about light – one day you realize it’s there. Days seem brighter. It seems like you’re starting to find the light too and I’m happy about that. Although we will always miss our moms, we also need to live in happiness and light. Take care.

  5. Kathy, I think a big part of processing and grieving is closely linked with living in the past. Some of that is necessary. It sounds like you’ve had your time there and are able to move on now. I’m sure your mom would be very proud of you for being strong enough to do so.
    Thank you for letting me know my comment on the other post meant so much to you. I appreciate knowing -you made my day.

    • Denise, I think you are so right when you say that living in the past is a large part of grieving. I never thought of it that way. You are someone who makes me think :-). It’s taken a long time to heal and find the strength to get to where I am now. Sometimes I take a step backward, but as long as I keep moving forward, it’s ok. Take care.

  6. Hi Kathy…I lost my mom almost two years ago. Like you, I quite often think about the past. I think about my mom a lot. How can I not? I think about her life and I also think about her death, and the time leading up to it. I think it is okay to do this. When I think about her death, I can get teary-eyed, and it can be a nice release. The memories will likely fade a bit with each passing year, and that makes me sad. Grief does not happen all at once – it happens in bits and pieces. Sometimes I think I see my mom – in the grocery store, in the garden, or at the front door waving good-bye. I miss her and always will.

    • Hi Wendie: You’re right – how can you not think about the past when you’ve lost someone important in your life. What life is now and what it would be if my mom was still with us is like night and day. As I commented to JC above, I felt like crying today just because I wanted my mom with me for support. I know she would have been there without a second thought. I know my mom visits me, visits her family. I’m sure your mom is with you. Like you, I will always miss my mom. And that’s ok. Take care.

  7. Kathy, this is another one of your posts that has hit home. My mom’s been gone only a short 16 months and only now am slowly able to accept certain things. I still waiver between past & present, I still cry about losing her but I know, and more importantly, feel that I have made great strides in my grieving process. Here’s to both of us!

    • Thanks JC. To me it doesn’t matter how slow your strides are, it’s making progress and moving forward from a huge loss that’s important. Today I was at a doctor’s appointment and almost in tears because I wanted my mom there with me – just for support. Be proud of yourself for how far you’ve come. Take care.

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