Writing Mother’s Stories Helps Daughter Handle Loss

My career as a flight attendant included some intense training every year for “the unlikely event of an emergency.” One of the scenarios flight crews practice over and over is bracing for an emergency landing. Should this extremely rare situation occur, I felt confident that the crew was prepared and knew exactly what to do.

The late night call about my mom’s death came with absolutely no warning or bracing time, and the impact was devastating. I felt completely unprepared and unsure where to go with the unpredictable emotions of grief. What would life look like without her, the #1 life cheerleader we called Beazy?

I remember waking one morning with a palpable fear that I might forget about her- forget the sweet years of growing up in a home with two parents, five loud kids, and two psychotic canines. It was that morning I started to write.

Some surprising things happened as I began to record memories in my journal. Writing “Beazy stories” would bring not only tears, but eventually some laughter- leaving my heart a little lighter. As I preserved memories, photos, even recipes safely on paper, the fear of forgetting about my mom began to fade away. I had a comforting place to go to remember her.

So, what about you? Maybe you got the knock at the door with, “We regret to inform you…” or other traumatic news with no time to brace. If that’s your story, I’m so very sorry for your loss. While I don’t pretend to know what’s going on in your heart, I believe there’s something you can do to keep memories fresh and give you a place to begin to heal. I want to encourage you to get a journal today and start to write. Telling the story is a beautiful way to honor a life that’s way too important to be forgotten.

For more information, visit http://vimeo.com/26232673

Beth Marshall 2012

Beth Marshall

Beth Marshall

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Beth Marshall is a freelance journalist, speaker and author of two grief-related books. Grief Survivor, 28 Steps toward Hope and Healing; and A Time to Heal, a grief journal. After losing three close people in her life, Beth felt crushed and overwhelmed by the intense emotions of grief. As she began to write about her "uniquely awesome" family members, Marshall eventually began to smile again- and even laugh. Her hope is to help others discover joy-filled life after loss.

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  • M. Smith says:

    Great article Beth! I can totally back up what Beth has said! The idea that I might forget something special about Zac (my husband passed away May 2010) was huge to me after he died. I remember one day laying down in bed and closing my eyes. I spent several hours picturing his face and replaying special events. I have Beth’s book (so do all three of my children) and once I started writing things down, I felt so relieved! Like even though Zac is gone, those memories are written down in ink and they aren’t going anywhere. Hopefully my grandchildren and their children can read funny,amazing stories about their Grandpa that they will never meet. The kids and I have gotten so used to writing in our journals that so often when we are sharing funny stories about their dad one of them will say “Mom go write that one down!” I hope everyone that has lost someone they love can use this journal to hold those special memories and moments forever in their heart!

  • bethmarshall says:

    M. Smith,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m thankful you and your kids are remembering Zac, through writing in your journals. Preserving memories, especially the funny ones is such a beautiful way to honor his life!

    It sounds like you are an amazing mom!