Losing My Mother and My Touchstone

How support groups brought consolation

By Edie Reagan, M.Div., LMSW

Late one autumn afternoon, some years ago, my mother died.  Although I had experienced other losses—that of a brother and a much-loved sister-in-law— the death of my mother struck me at my core, in a way that I had never before experienced.

She was an anchor in my life—the touchstone that I would return to, again and again, to remember who I was, where I came from, and what was most important in life.

Soon after she died, I remember feeling like an astronaut, drifting aimlessly in space, one whose lifeline to the “mothership” had been abruptly chopped in two. I didn’t know who I was or how to “be”, without her. The morning after she died, I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and found myself in a shockingly bleak place. It felt very dark and cold and empty. I remember thinking to myself, “This must be the grief that I have read about. Now, for the first time, I am experiencing it.”

Several months later, I walked through the doors at Hospicare, looking for help. (This was long before I became  a member of the staff here.) I sat down among a circle of strangers, but, by the time I walked out of the room that evening, I felt a deep sense of kinship with each person there. These people really understood firsthand, what I was experiencing. And what a precious gift that was. It was a great source of consolation and strength, just to be together with others who had also lost a loved one—others who were also trying to find their way through a morass of intensely painful feelings and reconstruct the pieces of their lives.

This sense of “kinship” with others is a hidden grace that we may discover within the journey of grief. We can become aware, perhaps for the very first time, that loss and grief are an inevitable part of every person’s experience. And that realization can bring us a sense of comfort and connection, even in the midst of our heartache.


Edie is Hospicare’s Spiritual Care Coordinator.