Today Mum left on her final journey. She travelled to a tranquil grave with a pastoral view in a sylvan English village in North Devon near a beautiful church dating back to the 1300s. As I learn to cope with my grief, I’ve been reflecting on some of the life lessons learned from Mum.
13 Life Lessons Learned
- Love unconditionally and with all your heart.
- Be kind and generous always.
- Life is short – so don’t hold grudges.
- Retain a sense of humour at all times
- In company try to be engaging, fun and always interested in others.
- Go on that trip! Do not look for problems. Just GO!
- When hardship strikes – strike back. Move on. Don’t look back.
- Love and treat your children’s partners as if they were your own.
- It’s never too late to start again – in love or in life.
- Accept and support your grown-up children’s life choices. Never judge them.
- Make time for your grandchildren – it’s precious time.
- Never stop learning new things.
- Develop a hobby that you are passionate about which can continue to sustain you in old age.
Lessons Learned in Life Quotes
I learned so many lessons about life from Mum when she was alive, but her death has made me think deeply about the reality of losing her and all that it implies, not to mention the subsequent grief.
I found the following life lessons quotes helpful in my grief. I hope they might resonate with you, or help you if someone close to you has passed away.
“Grief is the price we pay for love.”Colin Murray Parkes, psychiatrist and grief expert
That’s so true. The harder you love, the harder you’re likely to grieve.
Try not to hurry grief. Walk slowly and pause often.
Don’t be disturbed by memories which pitch up unbidden, just let them come and go.
Be gentle with yourself, take time and walk steadily with grief pausing often.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”AA Milne. Winnie The Pooh.
If you’ve had a relationship to cherish, it’s going to be hard saying goodbye. Be gentle on yourself and take your time.
“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realise it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.”Sai Baba. Spiritual leader and philanthropist.
Mum certainly showed me how to do all those things.
She loved life, she played golf, she faced big challenges which she overcame, she knew that life was not something to be taken for granted and she made sacrifices too.
Most of all she loved, and she enjoyed life.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,Maya Angelou
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Mum always, always made me feel loved, cherished and appreciated. She made me feel good.
How I shall miss her.
Like others before me I must grieve gently but ultimately look on the bright side of life, and understand that life goes on.
As you travel the long and winding road from life to immortality I’m thinking of you.
I take solace that you will be buried near a place of worship, in an historic yet garden-like setting with bucolic views, because you loved your gardens.
You were always at your happiest when you were pottering about, hands deep in the soil, planting pansies and gerbera daisies, tending your bougainvillea, or nurturing a plethora of bright flowers which you grew in abundance.
Still, I’m going to miss you Mum.
To me you were best friend, loyal supporter, travelling pal, wise woman, dress shopping companion, and overall just plain amazing loving, generous Mum.
You taught me many life lessons, which over the years perhaps I’ve not noted with the gravity they deserve.
Looking back now, I can see clearly that some life lessons I learned the hard way, while others were imbued in me just by watching you.
Lessons Learned About Life
Retain a sense of humour at all times.
In company be engaging, fun and interested in others.
Dress your body well. Importantly dress well to suit your body shape in your own style.
You taught me about unwavering love, fierce loyalty to family, and how to be of support whenever times were tough.
I learned from you that a lovely laugh conquers all, and having the ability to laugh in the face of adversity is a skill to be applied whenever possible.
For you were always the life and soul of any gathering, no matter how you were feeling. Always ready with a smile that lit up like a neon light bulb, and you were always interested in others.
I loved you for your bravery, your wisdom, your kindness, your sense of humour and your wonderful dress sense.
For not only were you so very beautiful, but Oh My Goodness, what a swell dresser you were. You knew how to dress your body well, in a style that so suited you.
But perhaps it’s the adventures and laughter we shared together over the years which I’ll miss the most.
Short Stories about Life
There are so many stories to treasure about your holidays with us abroad, when you would come to stay for one, two and sometimes three months at a time.
Go on that trip!
Don’t look for reasons not to go.
Don’t agonise over the challenges.
Just look for the adventure and GO!
In Africa you rallied to my plea for help when Dave set off on a epic mission to cycle the length of South Africa from its northern border to its southern Cape.
Still breast feeding my son at the time, and unsure about setting off on a crazy three month camping trip to remote places acting as the ‘back-up’ team I was worried.
You, on the other hand, practically jumped on the very next plane to Johannesburg bustling with anticipation, and practical advice.
How you enjoyed that three month camping trip, and how grateful I was to have you with me. The memories Dave and I hold of that time together are many, and eventful, and heartwarming and funny and so entwined with all that we loved about you.
There were many wonderful adventures, over many years, in Durban, Cape Town and various other parts of South Africa, as well as in The Philippines, Hong Kong, Lesotho and Australia.
In 1987 you joined us on our honeymoon, setting off on safari to The Kruger National Park and the Eastern Transvaal in South Africa. We travelled light in our burnt orange Nissan Skyline and because you took ill that first day, Dave carried you across the threshold of our first night’s accommodation instead of me!
During that trip, in a small town called Barberton, you developed your love for Barberton Daisies or Gerberas as they are more commonly known.
On our trips together you were kind, accommodating, considerate and understanding, though sometimes as Dave once put it, you could have the tact of a flying sledgehammer, which was cause for great mutual mirth. But we always loved your company.
And how we used to laugh about so many things. Often you’d only have to glance at me sideways over something said or done, and we’d both dissolve with laugher. Eye watering laughter, leg crossing laughter that knew no bounds. How I’ll miss those glorious moments of un-manufactured, reciprocal gaiety.
When hardship strikes, strike back.
‘Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag,’ and move on.
Don’t look back.
Look on the bright side of life.
Your gaiety survived years of turmoil and uncertainty during your first marriage. Yet through the tumultuous hardship and emotional stresses of those years there was a metaphorical forging of steel, as if you were tempered by adversity and made so much stronger by it.
Widowed at a relatively young age you were left with little, but you summoned all your strength and energy into rebuilding a new life.
Then I saw you in a new light and realised not only how strong you were, but also how strong your love was for your children.
I saw your strength of character, your goodness, your joie de vivre, and what fun you were.
I began to see a story about resilience and tried to adopt your ability of always looking forward, and always on the bright side of life too.
Love and treat your children’s partners as if they were your own.
You were openly generous and gave unconditional love to both mine and my sister’s husbands, embracing them as sons.
It’s never too late for a new start – new life, new love or new companionship. You are never too old to start over again.
Then after quite a few years alone, and nearing the age of 70, you met a partner with whom you enjoyed 20 years of companionship, travel and fun, not to mention great golf.
You entered the new relationship with love, energy and loyalty.
Make time for your grandchildren.
Develop relationships early on in their lives.
Involve yourself in their achievements, ask about their days, play games, laugh with them, love them to bits.
Communicate across distance however you can – even if it means learning about new technology and ways of communication.
Perhaps for me, when I truly began to know you and realise what an amazing women you were, was when I gave birth to my children, and you came into my life with gusto and courage and boundless strength and support.
You gave constant, unabated love, time and energy to all your grandchildren whom you loved so very dearly, as they loved you too.
Don’t judge your children’s life choices, support them.
Accept their decisions and realise that their life journeys may be different to your own, although you may not be able to understand their reasoning at the time.
Alas, I’m truly sorry for all the times I broke your heart.
“There’s a race of men who don’t fit in, a race who can’t stay still. So they break the hearts of kith and kin and roam the world at will,” said Robert Service in his famous poem.
It’s alway been a niggling regret that I’ve been there ‘somewhere’, not ‘here’ for most of my life as our life has been led mostly abroad due to work.
But life’s funny like that. And you got it.
Although our goodbyes were many, you never once held me to ransom for the life choices I made, but rather turned them to advantage, joining us on adventures whenever you could.
Yes, you were horrified when I left the sanctuary of your warm home in Devon, just 5 weeks after Sam was born, to join Dave who was working in Nepal, in the remote, open spaced foothills of the Himalayas. We were 3 hours from Kathmandu and 45 minutes from the nearest pay phone. Letters took about 4 weeks to reach you.
You didn’t stop me.
Instead, brave as ever, you drove me and my big suitcases to Heathrow airport in your tiny beaten up little orange car, a Yugo I think, and without a tear waived us both off, baby Sam cuddled up in a small orange rucksack on my back.
Later you told me, that after saying goodbye, you’d cried all the way back from Heathrow to Taunton. Only now, as a mother of grown-up children myself, do I understand why.
But because you accepted our choices, like boomerangs, we kept on coming back to you.
When we returned from Nepal, we scooped you up and went on a two week holiday to Lanzarote. I’ll never forget the laughter we had when we rode that camel.
I’ll always remember our adventures and horse rides in rural Lesotho, our fantastical days and nights out in Hong Kong, beautiful days together in Cape Town, and our times together enjoying tropical beaches in the Philippines. I remember fondly your visit to Australia with my sister which was sadly your last long haul trip.
Welcome your grown up children and their families into your home, and take the time and energy to make it worth their while to come and see you.
During the last few years as you travelled less, my memories of you became more entwined with the beautiful home in Devon you shared with your beloved partner.
I’ve been so very fortunate and privileged to be welcomed to stay over the years. Indeed I’ve descended with (and without my family) at least once or twice a year to your beautiful house, with its warm cosy ambience, lovely garden, and wonderful home-cooked food.
Not to mention our shopping sprees, the laughs we’ve had in changing rooms, and the lovely clothes you’ve spoilt me with.
No matter what age you are, never ever stop learning.
As your grandchildren reached adulthood, you didn’t see them as often, but you became a talented Techno Gran.
Weren’t you amazing? You embraced email around the age of 70, then Google, Facebook and even Instagram continually learning until you were 90 years old.
You gave your beloved grandchildren a good run for their money in their chosen communication, and how they loved you for continuing to strengthen bonds.
Kudos to you. You never let grass grow beneath your feet unless it was in the garden.
Throughout life improve on, or develop a passion which will challenge you, interest you, and absorb you for the rest of your life.
What some beautiful gardens you created. They were labours of intense love – Spaces and places where you were absorbed and content.
You were always busy. Rarely resting.
I can remember cooking dinners for you, and having to call you several times, as if you were a child, to come and eat. “Just a moment,” you’d say as you planted just one more plant – and then another, and another, as dinner got cold.
And now, after months of increasing health problems, when even your garden couldn’t revive you, you have come to rest.
We hope that you are now at peace, pottering happily in a beautiful garden, where Gerberas, Bougainvilleas and a host of other flowers bloom in gay abundance.
You have no idea how much we shall all miss you, your love and your generosity.
Life is short. Don’t hold grudges.
You always impressed on us that life is short, so live it.
And most definitely even if you can’t accept people for what they say or do, never hold grudges.
Be Kind. Be Generous. Always
Love with all your heart.
Dearest Mum, although you are no longer with us, your spirit lives on in our hearts.
You loved us with all your heart. You were kind and generous always.
Thank you for this, and for all you’ve ever taught me.
We shall love and cherish you forever.
My love always,
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