family life, spiritual life

A Year of Grieving Comfortably

The first time I put on a piece of my mother’s clothing – excepting for frequent try-ons of a pair of metallic gold dress shoes that lured me into her closet when I was young — was the night she died. A sudden stroke last Easter weekend became an instant, irreversible coma. She lingered only a handful of days. In a hospice room painted the color of sunrise and set on the meadowy grounds of an old convent.

That last evening — as day gave way to a piercing chill that is only possible in spring — the nurse told me it was “time.” Time. She asked if I wanted to be there. I did. For whatever reason, I decided to prepare myself for this momentous event by coming home, bathing and changing into the most comfortable clothing I could find.

That happened to be my own yoga pants and a t-shirt suggesting one should enjoy Coca-Cola. But, knowing I’d be cold and not wanting to spend the night in a sweater, I wandered down the hall to my mother’s room. A funnel-necked, sky-blue fleece hanging in her cedar-lined closet seemed just the thing.

It was. She left this world for the next in quietness and peace. I stayed put through it all, surreally comfortable in both spirit and body. God took care of the spiritual comfort. He was there in a tangible way. The bodily comfort was surely all about the fleece, however.

It turned out to be more enticing than the golden shoes were so long ago. I more thoroughly raided her closet even before her funeral. I’m significantly taller than my mother was. Skirts, pants and jeans eventually went to the thrift store. But, I kept nearly every sweater, fleece, turtleneck and shirt that reflected her desire to live in coziness and high color. Flannel, cotton, fleece. Red, hot pink, blues of every shade. They’re all still here. Just in my closet.

At least once a week, something she once wore has literally hugged me. It’s been a year of grieving, undeniably. No one is ever ready to lose their mother – even one who was approaching her mid 90s. But, it’s been a surprisingly comfortable kind of grief. Grief that wears well, like the softest of denim shirts against bare skin on another sunny day in another April.

It makes me wonder. A year into this, a year after having shared those handful of days in a time and place where the veil between heaven and earth was exceedingly thin, I’m suspecting God can use fleece and denim and a splash of red that greets each opening of a closet door as much as He can use anything or anyone.

It’s true. It’s surely been an Isaiah 66:13 kind of year: “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you…” Alleluia!

14 thoughts on “A Year of Grieving Comfortably”

  1. 😢I lost my mother in 1997. She was only 59. That seems even younger as I look back now after reaching 65 years this past year. I understand the connection and comfort from your mother’s clothing. I have several items that are still hanging in my closet even after a major relocation in 2021. Recently my daughter wore one of her blouses for a headshot and I thought she looked so beautiful. Our mother’s, especially those who have been such wonderful examples of faith will always be present in our hearts and lives and we look forward to that glorious reunion that is our hope. Thank you for sharing this moving tribute to your mom and God’s grace and comfort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So sorry you lost your mom so early. That is a young age. I love the thought of moms, daughters and granddaughters sharing clothing generationally, as well. We’re doing a bit of that. It’s such a tangible connection to one so loved. Blessings in your new home, Julie!!

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  2. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. I was privileged to spend the last day of my mother’s life with her. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath. I kept her sweaters and cool cordoroy jacket to wear.

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  3. What a nice reflection! I kept two of my mother’s robes too, for reflection and comfort, sometimes to wear. Just looked in on her spring robe now, a lighy cream colored flannel with sprigs of pink and lilac flowers. She went to be with Jesus in April 2016. Thanks so much for sharing. My heart is with you. Blessings! ❤ Kriste

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  4. What a nice write up about your ,mom. She was such a nice lady. So glad I got to spend time with her over the years. She would be so proud of you, and all the articles you write.. My younger sister, who passed in 2016, I wear a lot of her tops. My favorite is black with butterflies
    on it. Makes you feel so close to them
    when we wear them. God Bless, Nora. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nora, thank you so much for writing this post and sharing a snapshot of this last year. I still have both my parents of whom I’m incredibly close. They are marching into their 80’s now. Though in good health, they both are candid about the fact that their time is coming to an end. Watching others grieve the lost of their beloved parent has left me with a horrible, sick to the stomach dread of the day when it is my turn to say “See you in heaven.” Yet, your post has brought such comfort and even courage. I love your statements –“ At least once a week, something she once wore has literally hugged me. . . . But, it’s been a surprisingly comfortable kind of grief. Grief that wears well, like the softest of denim shirts against bare skin on another sunny day in another April.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was young, someone told me it is impossible to anticipate emotion and I think that is true. Losing a loved one — particularly someone in the household — is jarring. But, God has been incredible. I prayed for dignity of life and dignity of death for my mom and He answered in every way. It has been difficult — but over Easter week I could truly feel my spirit move from grieving mom’s death to remembering her life. That has been very freeing and fear-defeating. Praying God will walk with you through every season of life!!

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