Loss, Grief, We Go On ~ A raw and heartfelt story shared by Jennifer Jones

I have known Jennifer for quite a few years now and knew she and her mother were very close when Jen lost her mom to cancer.

In reading Jen's Facebook post, I could see my heart, from a different type of loss, experiencing much of what she expressed. That is a rare gift and blessing when you truly get what is expressed through words.

I found many dynamics in Jen's message that are hard to understand until you experience such loss. With her permission, I wanted to share her message.

Maybe her story will help provide you hope, maybe a bit of understanding, maybe less judgement, maybe a way to share in remembrance of those close that have left this earth. Maybe a way to not lose a relationship but to lean in and be curious in a supportive manner.

Prayers and love Jen, on your life journey and sharing your heart so we can help another through your words.

Much Love,

9.30.2022 Edit: Thank you so much to everyone who shared memories of my mom and reached out to me to offer support. You'll never know how much that means to me, honestly. Something just came over me yesterday, and I guess I felt safe to be vulnerable and had an urge to share all that personal information about what I had been going through. Sometimes it's hard to feel like you're going through something other people may not understand. So I really appreciate everything you all said. And to all of the Boone, IA students who had the pleasure of knowing my mom, she considered you all family, and she would be immensely proud of what you all have gone on to do with your lives in the last 5 years. I know that with 100% certainty. Love you all so much!!

9.29.2022 This is a post for Remembrance and Awareness:

Remembrance: 5 years ago today, I lost my best friend, my ultimate confidante, my biggest supporter, and provider of loving hugs, and any opportunity for more memory-making; losing my mom to cancer forever changed me.

For the last month of my mom's life, I was her around-the-clock caretaker. And to be honest, having that responsibility and witnessing her passing, although in the comfort of her own home, was nothing peaceful. The images and sounds I experienced during that time have forever haunted me. I have no regrets about being with her that way, but the aftermath has been a mighty struggle.

I dread this day on the calendar. Something happens to me every year on this date. I struggle to get out of bed, my mind is in a fog, I cry uncontrollably all day long, my entire body aches, my joints hurt, and my stomach feels gutted. I experience pins and needles all over my body and generally feel like vomiting.

And as time goes on, which I understand is natural, people talk to me about her less and less. It's almost like her more significant, global memory continues fading away, breaking my heart.

Family Dynamics: To add to the trauma and loss of my mom, my dad estranged himself from his entire family, providing no support whatsoever. So, essentially I know that I will go through the rest of my life parentless, which also means I will never be able to offer my children grandparent connections from my side of the family.

My dad's parents and sisters had nothing to do with me growing up. This relationship strain resulted in not being allowed to interact with my cousins, whom I adored, 99% of the time, watching them gather across the street on holidays with no invite to join (talk about a mind f&ck)). It was awful growing up that way and wondering what was wrong with me and why they didn't love me. I never got an answer.

I never wanted to have my girls experience the same thing because going through that had a direct impact, and still does, on how I form relationships, trust people, and accept love. I always assume I'm not good enough or worthy when interacting with people. It sucks. So yet again, on this anniversary, I tackle the day knowing that my dad will not be offering any support, and it's crushing. I miss and NEED him, but it will never be, and it sometimes makes me spiral. How could he not want to be with my daughters?? I love him but truly hate him for that.

My Personal Impact on Loss:
I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for years following my mom's passing. Sadly, I lost a lot of friends during that period and faced a lot of judgment for my depression and anxiety. I was also diagnosed with PTSD following her death.

It has taken a lot of work and a long time to get to a healthy place, but I have done my best, continuing to do so for my girls.

Your Health and You: I have more frequent colonoscopies because of my mom's health history and because I have had precancerous polyps. My last one was about a month ago, and on Tuesday of this week, I learned that I had been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, an actual lifelong disease that encompasses things like Crohn's disease. I will see a specialist starting in December, remaining under her care to manage this disease. Unfortunately, this increases my risk of developing colon cancer - devastating to me.

Health Request: Follow through with all preventative options that are available to you. Fight for any preventive medicine or screenings that you may be denied. If you have any suspicions about your health or if you are of a specific age, you must monitor your body and ensure that you catch things early. You owe it to yourself to advocate for yourself and those who love you.

Remembrance Request: If anyone has any pictures, memories, or anything they can share with me about my mom on this day, I would love to hear and see them.

Thank you for reading, and I love you all.

Kathy Mullen