11/30/2016 02:30 pm ET Updated Dec 01, 2017

What A Year Without My Mother Has Taught Me

As a certain anniversary approaches for the first time, I find myself overwhelmed with feelings. Feelings of disbelief, of sadness, of anger, of injustice surface on a daily basis. But mostly I'm overwhelmed by how okay I feel, and how, despite how horrible 2015 was for me, I am still living, and achieving, and partaking in whatever adventure my human hood will take me in.

I've lost a lot of friends in the past 365 days. People I thought would be there for me forever who couldn't make it to my mother's funeral. People who didn't understand the magnitude of the way I felt, of the utter crushing feeling I was met with on mornings when I woke up on time. And on the mornings when I didn't wake up on time and go to class because I wasn't up to it.

I can't tell you everyone who was at my mom's funeral but I can certainly tell you everyone who wasn't. And I can also tell you that I will remember my best friend of many years telling me a statement that will be etched into my brain forever, word for word. I will remember every single person who knew of my situation and disregarded it anyway. People who chose to pick fights with me, instead of asking why I was saying the things I was saying.

I was 18 when she died and that somehow makes me mature enough to deal with it because I'm an "adult."

I was met with criticism in places I least expected it. I was 18 when she died and that somehow makes me mature enough to deal with it because I'm an "adult." Disregarding the fact that I don't know how to do any of the things she was supposed to teach me. And she can't come to my wedding one day. Or see me graduate college, the thing she was proudest of since she'd never been. I can't call Momma up and ask her for her advice on some stupid, immature situation I find myself in. Because guess what? She won't answer the phone.

But to make things either, I won't pretend that I'm innocent. I said things I wouldn't say. I did things I wouldn't do. I stood up to people I respected for nearly two decades. I stopped letting them believe that they were most important to me. Because what was most important to me was gone. Dead. Never to return to this earth again. So for those 365 days, I became the most important thing to me.

And that's the thing about grief. It justifies.

Grief is irrational. It's annoying, and it's irritating, and it's that pesky visitor who comes round your house at the worst and unexpected times. But by its very definition, grief is human.

Grief is irrational. It's annoying, and it's irritating, and it's that pesky visitor who comes round your house at the worst and unexpected times. But by its very definition, grief is human.

I make a choice every day to believe the best in humanity. I want to believe that people are essentially good because whether they are or not doesn't matter to me. Ultimately what matters is that I feel that there is good in the world left to give and of that there is plenty. But what I did find out this year is that people are nasty.

They don't always text back. They turn on you when you don't expect it. They don't see you as a three-dimensional human being who is allowed to be irrational in your feelings, especially as you're trying to figure out this new world that looks like your old one but definitely isn't. They aren't there like they always said they would be. They try to treat you as if you're some perfect picture frame they've had in their house for decades without realizing that you fell off the wall and have become shattered along the way.

So yeah, I've lost a lot of friends this year. I used to be that person who wanted to maintain peace with everyone before realizing that there's a difference between being a friend and being civil, and that just because you don't want to be someone's friend doesn't mean you have to be antagonistic.

Because I've made a lot of friends this year. There is so much good in the world. And I won't let myself be sidetracked by the bad in people, by those acts of apathy that they don't even recognize.

An optometrist I'd known for 20 minutes gave me eight free bottles of contact solution after hearing that I lost my mother. My summer best friend left me countless five minute voicemails telling me how she was there when I wanted to talk. And I know that even though we haven't talked in a few months, she still is there, along with her entire family that took me in as their own for a night and even gave me a Christmas gift.

So I may have lost an essential part of my family, but I gained so many more.

Not only did my roommate's family send me a condolence card, but they also gave me a birthday present and let me stay with them for the entirety of my Thanksgiving break. Not only did the family of my childhood best friend clean my entire house after the death of my mother, but they also took me out for lunch and frozen yogurt this summer, just to talk. I went to LA on my first vacation ever this year, and stayed with my friend and her family who not only showed me who they were, but also embraced me with open arms and invited me to visit Mexico with them. And I have a friend from Colorado, and a friend from Kenya, and a friend in South Carolina whose families were ready to do the same, had they had the geographical chance.

So I may have lost an essential part of my family, but I gained so many more.

I think 2016 has been an emotional year for even the best of us. With more than half of the country upset with the president elect, it's easy to become discouraged and to become depressed. It's easy to see the world in that evil light and believe me--there is an evil light. There are still days, especially within the last three weeks, when I walk around worried for society and angered by the smallest things.

But I don't like myself when I'm in that mindset.

So I guess, ultimately, what my initiation to the Dead Mother's Club has taught me is this:

You can believe what you want to believe. If you choose to believe that people are bad and evil and against you, then go ahead. I won't contradict you. I feel that way sometimes too. But ultimately, know that how you view them doesn't have any effect on you. When you lie awake at night, thinking about those people you hate, those people who have done you wrong, just realize they have no clue that you're even thinking of them. You don't cross their mind. You're only hurting yourself.

So as for me, after the worst 12 months of my life, I won't let their misunderstandings fuel me in any way. I will be successful. I already am. And my mother might not be here to see it, but she had a hand in creating it, and that's all that matters.

And it isn't easy to always see or understand for that matter, but humans are all three-dimensional. Everyone hurts. Everyone gets sad, and mad, and happy. Everyone does wrong. I'll let people make their own mistakes. I won't be caught off guard anymore.

Today, I choose to forgive. I choose good.

This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at