Five Lessons My Mother Taught Me About Death

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

I’ve always been afraid of everything—the dark, scary movies, spiders, my big brother chasing me around the house in a creepy mask. But the thing I’ve always feared most of all was death. Every time I’d say goodbye to a family member I’d have to say, “I love you” just in case it was the last time. I’ve always tried to live life to the fullest in case I might not live that long. So I guess, in a strange way, death’s motivations have blessed my life.


In my youth, I’d only ever experienced the death of one person close to me—my grandmother. I was only about seven. I didn’t know her very well, but what I knew I loved very much—but more than that, I knew my mother loved her very much. Seeing my mother’s pain, watching her kiss her mother’s cheek one last time before they closed the casket, was the most emotional pain I’d ever felt. It seemed too final, too sad, too empty. I hated that feeling and have been afraid of it ever since.

My own angel mother was called home almost two years ago. It was a long, bitter fight with cancer and she battled it with a strength only a mother could muster. Her death was not sudden or unexpected. It was long, drawn-out and dreaded. Many times, we hoped for a miracle, and many times we questioned God’s plan. I don’t think I will ever learn why God takes some and leaves others. I do not know why death must be so horrible. But what I’ve decided is this: Death has brought me down to the depths of pain—I could let it beat me, or I could let it teach me.

And so, strange as it is, I have dubbed death a “Master Teacher” and am sharing the five things death has taught me.

1. Time Truly Can Heal All Wounds.

The day after my mother’s funeral I was in her home washing the counters and I found a sticky note with a list she’d written.

The pain was too much. Seeing her handwriting, so fluid and beautiful, brought me to my knees with sobs. I cried for days. I never thought that feeling would go away. It’s been almost two years and now I can say that I miss her just as much as I did that day, but the sorrow is not so poignant. I know she is still with me, even if I can’t feel her presence. I know I will see her again someday, and that brings peace to my soul.

2. People Want to Talk About Their Loved One.