Balancing Grief With Love

It has been hard to breathe today.  The pain in my heart, eased for months now, has been a constant accompaniment to the hours of this day.

Today is the one year anniversary of Mom’s death.

I woke to the presence of grief and immediately felt a strange dichotomy of peace.  I sensed her presence right away and knew she was okay with my mourning–that seemed proper today–but she also wanted me to feel her peace.

So this post is the story of finding a broken conch shell and how I began to learn to balance grief with love.  It’s the story of feeling love’s presence, even as it transcends time and space.  Finally, it’s the story of energy that connects a mother with her daughter and how awareness sustains that energy.

This story begins with the explanation that over the years, when I’ve had extra money and inclination, I’ve had flowers delivered to my mother on my birthday as a token of gratitude.  This past April, as I celebrated my 50th birthday in the Turks and Caicos Islands, I was grief-stricken that it was the first year I couldn’t even call my mother on my birthday.

My traveling companion, God bless her, concocted a plan to ceremonially deliver a beautiful red hibiscus bloom to Mom.  At sunset, on the night of my birthday, we waded into the North Atlantic and after saying a few words to Mom and shedding a few tears, we released the bloom.  We watched for the longest time as it bobbed on the waves leading out to the sinking sun.

My hurting was immense as I realized there would come an instant when I would no longer see the flower and the symbolism was nearly impossible to bear.  Yet, the giving of the flower to her–sending it to Heaven on the rise and fall of water–felt right and good.

After a time, I turned and tears-streaming, walked out of the ocean, careful of where I stepped in the dusky light.  Then, as I looked down, half buried in the sand was a broken conch shell.  I bent, retrieved it and then caught my breath as I noticed that wedged inside the smooth opening was a tiny, baby-sized shell.

I knew instantly that Mom had received her gift and sent one to me in return.

The broken shell is now a treasured possession, as is my new Mother and Daughter figurine called Close to Me (a Willow Tree design by Susan Lordi).

That same traveling companion–the one who has walked every heart-wrenching step with me over the past year–gave the piece to me this morning.  Her love and support is the balm that soothes the grief and brings balance to the vulnerable spots in my heart.

Today is nearly done as is the first year of everything without Mom. But in reality, everything that I do and see and experience, is with Mom, if I nurture that connection.

I like knowing that she stays close to me, for now and for always.



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  1. Cathy Dunn says:

    Beth – what a beautifully written and felt story! I can’t believe how much you look like your Mom in this picture…beautiful women…the both of you!

    • Beth Wilson says:

      Thank you, my sweet friend. Everyone always said I looked like Mom; she said I looked like Dad, minus his nose which is quite a snoz! Love you and miss you.

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