My mother, Madeline Hartsell Lamb, died early Sunday morning after a brief, but intense struggle with brain cancer.
While I am relieved that she is finally out of pain and at peace, there are no words to describe what it feels like to live in a world without her. In large part, this is part of the process of grief, a process that begins before a loved one passes and extends indefinitely into the future after he or she dies. But there is also another component to dealing with death - no one teaches us how to handle it.
Our culture is rich with traditions and celebrations revolving around ushering life into the world, but when it comes to death our culture is woefully unprepared to handle it. We speak of it in hushed tones, are at a loss for words and then simply expect adults to “buck up” and move on.
Yet, in my mind, being part of ushering someone out of the world is the single most profound and sacred experience I have ever gone through in my life. Being there, literally being there, is something that is inexplicable even to a person who spins words for a living.
There is one group that does understand the process of death, Hospice. Although my experience with Hospice of Wake County was brief, I found them to be extraordinarily compassionate and knowledgeable at a time when I needed them the most. Hopefully, I will be able to use my experience in the future when I am stronger to help others in my life who will undoubtedly go through a similar ordeal at some point.
For now, I must learn to live in a world without Madeline.
The world was brighter because she lived. I was brighter because she lived. Someday, I hope that I will learn how to shine again in her honor.
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. She regularly writes for Go Ask Mom on Mondays. Since May, she's been writing about her journey with her mom. Read more about her mother on her CaringBridge site.