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When Suddenly Life Changes

Kathy & Mom at a family wedding

Last September I lost a special friend, my mother-in-law. Since then, I am living in the changes that come when you lose someone you love dearly. You see, I am no stranger to loss, it is how I have grown over the years of processing the reality that has changed. First, I have learned to talk openly and honestly about the loss and I am not afraid to share my hurt and sadness with those around me.

We never know when our next challenge or change will come in life. My Mom was always there for me. Our close relationship grew even before I married her son. Mom was my safe person, one who I could share my deepest thoughts and desires with and know that there would be no judgement only love and support. You can imagine my shock to hear that she passed just two hours after I had visited with her.

Like most visits, we spoke of the children, grandchildren and family over a cup of hot water and a chocolate chip cookie. She mentioned how her son, my late husband, left us far too soon and she was overwhelmed that I stayed close to her for all these years and she lovingly thanked me. I think that was her good-bye thoughts for me.

Since then birthday dinners have come and gone and we all experienced the painfulness of the empty chair. Our Mama was not at the table to do her famous bun toss to anyone who wanted one. Gone are the days of picking up the phone to chat or receiving the encouragement cards in the mail. Christmas had waves of sadness coming and going like the ocean beach. At my InSight Celebrant training, Instructor Glenda Stansbury wrote this and it speaks to me:

“A death has occurred and everything is changed by the event.

We are painfully aware that life can never be the same again,

That yesterday is over, that relationships once rich have ended.

But there is another way to look upon this truth.

If life went on the same without the presence of the one who died,

We could only conclude that the life we remember

Made no contribution, filled no space, meant nothing.

The fact that the person left behind a place

That cannot be filled is a high tribute to this individual.

Life can be the same after a trinket has been lost,

But never after the loss of a treasure”.

As we go through the challenges and changes that occur in life, may we know that it is how we process these transitions, that make us better people. Drawing from a life well lived is a great way to move forward basting in the warmth of memories and feeling enriched to have known this person. Healing and comfort is found when we keep the memories alive and accept that life without our loved one will never be the same and we are forever changed.

Kathleen is a transition coach, a Tedx speaking coach and an end of life Celebrant. Working with people at sensitive times in their life is her passion. For more information visit

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