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I screamed! I decided that in order to survive (and not suffer) I had to scream. God, I screamed so loud. I cried so hard. I had to give myself permission to scream, cry, pout and start that process all over again if I needed to every chance that I got. I had to give myself permission to madly miss her because I do. I had to give myself permission to feel unreasonably lonely without her because I do. I had to give myself permission to be utterly compassionate for myself because I am. I had spent the last six months of her life, our lives, being one of her caregivers. I was the only one who could get her to swallow all of her medicine without fussing at the world when her throat gave up on her. I made sure her little African print headscarves were on tight and straight whenever she had company at the house. I clipped and painted her unruly cancer nails while we watched the “stories” together even though she’d fall asleep in twenty minutes. I gave myself permission to forgive myself. I forgave myself for not letting her cook the very last baked ziti for her family. I forgave myself for all the lies I ever told her. I decided to take care of myself because my mom wasn’t there anymore to do that.

I know we all grieve differently. My story isn’t your story, but here’s what I know to be true: we all have good days, not so good days, and some really fucking horrible ass days. Promise me you will do yourself a favor and give yourself permission to cry whenever you feel like you need to because that’s how you say your goodbyes. Promise me you’ll be okay with excusing yourself from those triggering situations (mine was the usage of the word “mom”) because that’s how you say your goodbyes. Whenever your grief is unbearable, realize that this time is yours. So turn your phone off, decline those heart-to-hearts and love yourself like you know your loved one would want you to.

pp. 64-65. Excerpted from: "Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died: Coping With Loss Every Day" by permission of the author Ty Alexander. Published by Mango Publishing Group. Copyright 2017.

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