By Bethany Armstrong
 
I lost my mom in college as a sophomore. It was, without question, the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I worked diligently to sort and process through my grief in a way that was healing and healthy – I helped start an AMF chapter at my college, I went to counseling, I read books, etc. Each semester that I survived without Mom’s friendship and support was one that I would mentally pat myself on the back. I had survived. AMF was a huge help to me. It gave me the ability to meet with other students who understood how I felt, as well to process and work through my grief in a safe environment.
 
It has been six years since I lost my mom and I have spent that time facing new challenges of “life without mom”. It has included: graduating from college, my first job out of college, getting engaged, getting married, losing my job, getting a new job, finding out I was pregnant and having my first child. I am at the point where I have learned to live without her longer than she battled with cancer.
 
In a lot of ways, my grief has come full circle. I have learned how to live and thrive without the presence of my Mom in my life. There are days I get sad and I miss her more than other days, but the ache doesn’t rip my heart apart now. Instead, it only whispers what I am missing instead of screaming like it did right after she passed away.
 
The ways I miss her now make me smile; where once there were tears, there are now fond memories. I gravitate towards Mexican food when I feel nostalgic for her input. (That woman loved Mexican food!) And as I learn how to balance life as a new mom, I remember how much my mom loved her children and how much she enjoyed spending time with them. That definitely influences how I parent on a daily basis.
 
I still have rough moments and days. They still sneak up on me, but I don’t dread them anymore. For instance, just this week, I realized how much I miss buying my Mom Christmas presents. How much I wish I could still do that! But, 6 years later, missing my Mom looks more like smiling at the good memories instead of crying at what I am missing. For once, that is a welcomed and refreshing change in feeling. As I read in another’s blog post about grief, “we move forward, taking memories, precious faces and stories, and the things we’re learning with us.”