As I sat in church beside my dear cousin, she leaned over and whispered to me, “You should write about mourning expectations in your article.” After church, she asked me to accompany her to her home. My cousin is a world famous quilter and she graciously quilts lovely gifts for those she loves. I am one of her fortunate recipients.
As we stood in her sewing room, we took a moment to talk about the expectations and realities of our lives. As children, she and I both lived near our current homes in a tiny East Texas town. As teens, we were privileged to briefly room together while attending college. We both vowed that we would live outside of East Texas for the rest of our lives.
My cousin married an FBI agent and raised her five sons in wonderful cities across the United States. She worked the graveyard shift making donuts so that during the day she could be home with her boys and help make ends meet. I married a career United States sailor and raised our three daughters in San Diego CA. I did daycare so that I could stay home with my girls and help make ends meet. We both homeschooled our children.
I am not sure where I thought I would live out my days, and I do not know if my cousin had a specific destination in mind either, but the realities of life find us living out our retirements in this tiny town to which we vowed never to return.
My cousin’s grandmother is my great-grandmother and my grandmother is her aunt. They were self-sacrificing and worked beside their husbands helping to make ends meet. They lived out their latter days, here, in this tiny town.
As young women embarking on independence, my cousin and I had great expectations for our lives. As grandmothers, we review our choices and wonder how they brought us back to the place we were so happy to leave. To the casual eye, our great expectations seem to have ended small, and that interpretation troubles my cousin. She mourns the dreams and expectations set by her heart so long ago.
Loss causes psychological, emotional, and spiritual mourning. Its impact will correlate directly with its degree of attachment and may range from mildly painful to extremely devastating. Recovery, however, indiscriminately sets forth a table of tasks that must be satisfied for recovery.
Grief Brief 18
Tasks of Mourning
1. Accept the reality of loss
2. Process the pain of loss
3. Adjust to the world without the deceased
4. Find an enduring connection with the deceased in your new life without them.
(Worden, Mourning Light 2016)
Through analysis, we discover that the Tasks of Mourning apply equally to all loss. Its recovery key is attitude.
My cousin and I have a choice. We can choose to look at ourselves as failures, wondering where we went wrong; or, we can review our paths, and discover our motivations for returning home. Without a change of attitude, we will wither away in bitterness as sorrowful and broken old women. Changing our attitudes, allows us to analyze our motivations and successfully accomplish the Tasks of Mourning. Upon completion, we will realize greater realities than expectation ever perceived.
Reality is not the deceiver; people choose deception. We believe that reality will be too painful, and therefore, avoid it. Avoiding reality and truth only leads to greater turmoil, unhappiness, complications, illnesses, and eventually death. Avoidance is a game well avoided.
No one made me or my cousin return here, it was our choice. Why then would we choose something that before was inconceivable to us? To understand our choices, we must understand the layers of our lives. Our pact to never return to this tiny town was made by inexperienced youthful minds. As our lives materialized, our personalities and values exerted themselves. Through our hardships and successes, we relied heavily upon the influences of those we loved: in particular, our parents and our grandmothers.
Our grandmothers assisted our parents in shaping and instilling our value systems. As we became wives and mothers, we often relied upon these concepts and values in raising our children. We mimicked our grandmother’s work ethics in assisting our husbands’ make ends meet by working within our homes while raising our children. Moreover, like our grandmothers, we have moved back to this tiny town.
When I review my youthful expectations through the eyes of a mature woman, their greatness pales. When I look at the realities of my life, I understand my grandmother’s love for me, the sacrifices she made for me, and the lessons she taught me. I also see her patterns repeating through me. I understand that realities gloriously surpass youth’s expectations.
My cousin and I are fortunate women. We have a heritage that can never be taken from us. We know who we are, where we came from, and that we are loved. Our grandmothers secured that legacy through their sacrifices in this tiny town, and my cousin and I now do the same.
In this world of lost souls, lost values, and lost morals, the gifts of family, love, and home are the true realities of heritage. They are the legacy we inherited, and they are the gifts we protect and pass on to our children by returning and living in this tiny East Texas town. A legacy unperceived by youthful expectations but the glorious reality through the maturity of life.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director of Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City, Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and Certified Grief Counselor. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.