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Grief Is The Price Of Love: The Loss Of My Mother

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My mother and I talked about “The Day,” the inevitable day she would pass from this world. I thought I was prepared. It turns out I wasn’t. Losing a loved one is painful but mourning is necessary, and grief is the price of love.


Even though I know the pain of grief is the price of love, I was not at all prepared for just how powerful that grief would be.

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A time to grieve – the price of love

My mother was ill, her body was breaking down, and it really was time for her to leave this world. Yet losing my mother a few short weeks ago was one of the most painful experiences of my life.

I thought I was ready when it was time to say goodbye. We had talked about the inevitable more than once. Plus, I am an oncology nurse so I am familiar with death.

But when my mother died, when I was in California awaiting the birth of my first grandchild, my mother’s great-grandchild, the pain of loss catapulted me into a deep dark fog.

Life almost instantly started moving in slow motion. I had no idea how to function, other than to take it one small step at a time.

It felt like I was wading through molasses or that I was in an old black-and-white movie, watching from the outside. All of my strong raw emotions made me feel like I was being tossed about in a drying machine.

Clearly, I was in a state of shock and the only way for me to get out of it was to begin the grieving process. When losing a dear friend or loved one, there is no skimping out on this step. Grief is the price we must pay when we love and then lose someone.

Grief is a form of learning

Whenever I am trying to gain clarity on a subject, I dive into research. So when looking into the numerous studies of grief, I found clinical psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor’s work to be interesting.

O’Connor says grieving is a form of learning. Grief teaches us how to be in the world without that person we once loved and now lost. Grief is a universal experience that we should try not to avoid or hide from.

She states that when we lose a loved one, our brains have to actually encode a bond. A type of rewiring to make new brain connections without that person we once loved, versus using the old wiring from when they were alive.

Dr. O’Connor likens this concept to phantom limb syndrome. When a person continues to feel itchiness or pain in the absent limb due to the brain not having yet rewired itself to the new representation of the body.

Their grief is in proportion to their affection they know their loss to be irreparable,…

jane austen’s tombstone, winchester cathedral

Joy of love

When one dares to experience the joy of love, the pain of grief is just a flip of a coin. Is it worth it?

My mother was more than a parental caregiver to me and my brothers. She was my confidant and a source of unwavering support. My mother was my rock, and I can honestly say we were best friends.

Remembering my mother’s last embrace and her poignant words fills me with a sharp feeling of love and loss. I wonder how long will I feel this way, months, years, forever?

According to Dr. Colin Murray Parkes, a psychiatrist, in his book Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life, grief is the price of love.

Experiencing the pain of grief is the price we pay for loving someone. Grief is not a sign of weakness or self-pity but rather a true testament of how much we loved.

The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love; it is, perhaps, the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment.

Dr. Colin Murray Parkes

The late Queen Elizabeth II also used Dr. Colin Murray Parkes’s quote when she delivered a condolence message to British victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Grief and love go hand in hand

Losing a dear friend or loved one can be incredibly painful. The sense of loss we feel when we are in our own grief can be tremendous.

However grief and love go hand in hand, and the unshakeable truth is that we cannot have one without the other. Knowing this might help us better cope.

It comforts me to know that all the while growing up, well into my adult life, my mother was a steady presence with her warm embrace, big smile, and sharp wit.

She supported me throughout all of my endeavors, and the joy of loving my mom will always far outweigh the pain of loss.

For what is life if not to love one another?

As one life ends, another begins.
My first grandbaby came into the world just days after my mother’s passing.

Tips to support someone who is grieving

Being with a person who has just lost a loved one can be difficult. While sitting with the intensity of grief, many get nervous and do not know how to best support the person who is grieving.

Through experience in my own life, I have learned that just being with someone who is grieving can be far more effective than trying to cheer them up.

Listening and letting them vent and express how they are feeling are wonderful supportive measures. Let the person grieving know you will be there with them for however long it takes.

Words of assurance, a bunch of flowers, or a kind card from family members can be wonderful, however, keep in mind that when a grieving person is trying to process their feelings, efforts to cheer them up could send the wrong message.

When we try to cheer a grieving person, it could send a message like, “Please cheer up because seeing you hurt makes me uncomfortable.”

The grieving person may feel like they need to act okay because of your cheering-up efforts. When in fact they may still feel terrible in spite of your best efforts.

Statements like “They are in a better place” or “You will feel better in the coming weeks” are not necessarily helpful, and they could be felt as dismissive to the grieving person.

The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinders which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives, and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.

Dr. Colin Murray Parkes – full quote

Grief is the price of love, and it is worth paying

Grief may be the price of love but it is a price worth paying, for the profound and enduring connections that enrich our lives.

As I move forward in my own life, I will carry my mother’s memory with me. A reminder of the love we shared and the lessons she taught us all.

I will embrace the pain of grief as a testament to our love. A reminder that it is better to have loved deeply and lost, than to never have loved at all.

A final goodbye

Today I strive to face each day with a renewed sense of purpose and gratitude, and I know my mother’s spirit is with me. She is guiding me toward the next hug, the next smile, and the next gorgeous sunrise on Cape Cod.

My mother’s obituary final paragraph reads:

As we gather to honor her memory, let us remember the warmth of her smile, the comfort of her embrace, and the wisdom of her words. Though she has left this world, her spirit lives on in the hearts of those she touched. In Rita’s favorite words, “Carry on.”

So, in honor of my mom, I will do my best to carry on. And for those who have lost, grief is indeed the price we pay for love.

Still, I humbly ask that you too carry on. Move forward knowing you have loved and have lost. This is what makes life so beautiful, and heartbreakingly lovely.



NOTE: If you are interested, HERE is one of my favorite books that helped me deal with several deaths in my family, including my son’s father last summer and most recently my beloved mother.

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You can also follow me, and my life on Cape Cod, on my Instagram page @upsidelane.

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  1. Hi Dawn,
    Beautifully written and helpful. I love this and the new name. You are such a blessing to many, including me.
    As a caregiver, and as your friend, I Thank you for this web page. It is so informative and uplifting.
    Much love to you and lots of hugs! Enjoy your new Grandchild. She is sure to bring you much joy❤️