I sent this letter to my sister about missing our mom during the holidays

Here’s what it said:

Hi sis,

I’ve been meaning to write you for a long while, and finally have the time/right thoughts.

I recommend you read this this when you have some downtime, it’s not anything urgent but might not be material for a quick look from your phone =)

This has been a tough time for you, I know. You’ve got quite a bit going on, and are doing an admirable job of holding it all together. It can’t be easy, and the challenge of living with great joy and suffering is something that takes practice. I can’t say I’ve handled it particularly well the last year. But the waves have their own shape and content and sometimes we simply have to see them through.

First of all, I want to say I’m sorry you lost mom. I know that might seem like a funny thing to say, considering you are my sister, but I recognize that the relationship you had with her was unique and a bond that can’t be replicated. I’m so very sorry, it hurts me a great deal to watch you struggle with it and I know from my own experience that that struggle and suffering is in every moment, behind all of the events, and thoughts, and strands of our lives.

I do want to reaffirm that what you did for her while she was alive matters. The trips to Sonic to get a milkshake, picking her up after classes all those years at UNM, and all the help and support that both you and your husband gave her mattered, especially what you did specifically.

It’s also worth noting that you provided her with honesty when it mattered most. Being the revolutionary person that she was, mom valued the truth. She always wanted to know what her options were and wanted to tell it like it was. In that way you gave her one of the most important gifts that you could have. I know that must have been difficult.

The next thing is hard for me to say, because I can’t say it without crying. I’m willing to bet that the last year has been filled with a weird mix of joy and suffering, and I don’t know the nature of your suffering, but I want you to know that we both have mom’s forgiveness for all the things we wish we could have done better or differently. Mom was a person of great lovingkindness (to borrow from the Buddhists) and she understood a great deal that most people simply overlook.

I’ve punished myself a great deal in this last year since mom died. I’ve worked too much, and blamed myself for many things I had no control over. I imagine maybe you’ve also tried to work the grief out in your own ways, perhaps trying to hold it back when it came up as it so often does in the wrong place and at the wrong time. There will always be an empty space in our lives where mom used to reside, and the truth is there’s not much we can do about that. But I hope you’ll forgive yourself for your failures, perceived or real. Contrary to the lessons of modern culture, it is not when we shut the world and other people out that we become stronger. It is when we allow ourselves to be changed, to hope, to dream, to fail, to grieve, that we become better and stronger in our humanity.

The other thing I want you to know is that your work, not just in the traditional sense of your job but your work as a human, has been and continues to be exceptional. I can see clearly that you are a truly extraordinary mother, wife, nurse, and person. It probably doesn’t get affirmed as much as it should, so I wanted to tell you that I admire your efforts in all of those roles. I hope, also, that you will make sure to take good care of yourself, even if that just means an extra 20 minutes before work a couple times a week to listen to relaxing music in your car. Often it is the little things that we do for ourselves that make all the difference, especially when you are the giving type of person which let’s be honest we both inherited from mom =)

Well that’s about all I have for this transmission,
With love, your brother,



4 thoughts on “I sent this letter to my sister about missing our mom during the holidays”

    1. Thanks Amie =)

      The holidays understandably come with some mixed feelings…but one bright spot is my nephew, who is a really sweet kid and helps take the edge off of missing my mom. Hope y’all are well

  1. Wow, I am sitting here crying…you could be MY brother writing this too me…although he would never reach out and acknowledge my sacrifices and my pain both then and now. I lost my mom a little more than a year ago. A couple weeks ago I wrote a letter to, but to HER. Forgive me for leaving links, but I think you should see this, it’s rather uncanny that we met here and I found your letter to your sister. http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/letter-to-a-ghost/ which goes with this http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/a-picture-of-a-thousand-words/ …thank you for writing the letter although it is not for me, I felt every word and I am grateful.

    1. That’s quite beautiful Cheri, thanks for sharing. I’m glad the letter found an additional audience=)

      Isn’t it strange how we punish ourselves? I have missed my mom so much the last year and a half, and not only did I struggle with the hurt but I also punished myself for hurting. I get the sense from reading your letter that you’ve struggled with the same. The one thing I did right in 2012 was let all of the grief out, and while it has hurt deeply and continues to hurt it has also given me great insight into life and how we humans love each other.

      You may also like this post I wrote a little over a year ago —> https://trialofthecentury.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/everything-falls-apart

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