For those who have lost a loved one, holidays can trigger grief. Mother's Day is particularly difficult for me, because I no longer have my mother here to physically spend the day with. I still have my brother and father around, and my dad does the best he can to be both parents these days. But let's be honest, there are things a gal does not want to discuss with her dad! Sometimes you just need your mama.
My mother was a mom's mom: She loved to cook, dote on her kids, and take in every stray animal or child around. As each anniversary or holiday passes, my family sets out to keep her traditions alive, and we strive to build new ones. On her birthday, the anniversary of her passing, and Mother's Day, we cook all of her favorite foods, open a bottle of her favorite wine, and celebrate her life.
This month, I was on a mission to find out how others cope with the same loss. I had the honor of speaking with award-winning celebrity Rosanna Arquette, regarding her own mother's life and passing. Although it has been 15 years since her mother succumbed to breast cancer, you can hear in Arquette's voice just how raw the loss still is.
One of the most difficult parts of the loss, Arquette confides, is "not being able to call her." As we age and life continues, we want to seek the counsel of our mothers. "I am getting close to the age my mom was when she died," Arquette reveals. "My challenge right now is wishing my mom was here for all the advice."
Arquette emphasizes that she ached to call her mother after sending her own daughter off to college. The inability to call my mother has been very difficult for me as well. It is a shot to the gut when I almost pick up the phone to share something with my mom,only to realize, "Oh wait, I can't."
While their mother-daughter relationship was tumultuous at times, Arquette looks back fondly on her mother and the values that her mother passed along. Taking care of five children, with a struggling-actor husband, Arquette's mother ingrained a strong sense of work ethic into the children and taught the importance of caring about humanity. "She was a powerhouse when it came to helping people," recalls Arquette, sharing that her mother's mottos were, "We're here to help others" and "If you have it, share it!"
Arquette's mother was active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, sheltering war protesters and organizing peace marches. Arquette recalls meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. in the back of a truck, during one such march. "He had a powerful, enigmatic energy," she says. It is no coincidence, Arquette continues, that all of her siblings are involved in various forms of social justice activism -- a testament to their mother's legacy.
Regarding her mother's journey living with breast cancer, Arquette laughs about being raised "hippy kids" and reveals that, true to form, her mother rejected the option of getting a mastectomy. "She thought Western medicine makes people sicker and sicker," Arquette says, adding, "She had a good quality of life. She only did chemo once."
As it so happens, Arquette's upcoming movie is about a mother in the process of dying. "Things come to the surface," she says about directing the upcoming film. "It's grief." As for her own coping strategies, Arquette turns to meditation. "It gets me out of the rabbit hole of negativity that becomes more negativity," she says. "You can see the energy of it." During her meditations, she reveals, she talks to her mother -- keenly feeling her mother's presence and hearing her mother's responses.
Years after her mother's passing, and with a grown daughter of her own, Arquette is conscientious about her own health. She is careful to eat nutrient-dense food, exercise regularly, and remain positive about life. Her regimen includes juicing and eating a mostly-vegan diet, although, she adds mischievously, "sometimes dairy sneaks back in."
It is important to tune into our bodies, Arquette emphasizes, saying "Your body will tell you what you need." She also speaks at length about importance of practicing gratitude, being kind to others, and letting go of resentment. "We need to constantly work on our stuff," she muses."It's all about love. Come from love -- be in that place."
Talking about my own mother to others, "talking" to her when I need guidance, and maintaining her traditions, have always helped me deal with my loss. Although I nonetheless miss my mother every single day, I feel a sense of calm when Arquette assures me that "every year, it does get a little bit easier [to cope]." Working through death, Arquette says wisely, "is no different than working through life."
I could not agree more.