Holding on to Spirituality: Bobbi Kristina and Mother Loss
Reflections on grieving the loss of a parent in light of Whitney Houston's death
BY: Amanda Koehler
My friend Jess and I were sitting at my kitchen table, catching up before my birthday party was about to start. “Oh, did you hear about Whitney Houston?” she asked. “She died today.”
After feeling shocked for a moment, my first thought went to Whitney’s daughter, 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina. The next day when I went online to find out more about what happened, I read about Bobbi Kristina’s hospitalization the day after her mother’s death, and my heart literally hurt for her. I remembered the pain and sadness I felt when my own mother died. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to go through that swarm of emotions in the public eye. Even worse, I can’t even begin to comprehend how much it must hurt to read the horrible things people are writing about your mother on the Internet. I was so angry reading some nasty comments about Whitney’s public battle with drugs. I kept thinking, “This is someone’s mother they are writing about.”
My mother died from glioblastoma multiforme, a very deadly form of brain cancer, when I was 23. She was 52. She will never see any of her children get married or have their own children. She will never again hear about our successes or failures; she won’t be there to help console or encourage us when we need it. She was the person I told everything to, the person who listened to me when I was hurt or sad. So how could I face the biggest loss of my life, losing her, without having her there to talk about it?
It’s been a little over three years since my mother died, and I still miss her dearly. I still feel that ache when I hear others talk about their mothers or feel a sense of bittersweet kinship when I hear of others, like Bobbi Kristina, who have lost their mothers way too soon. I don’t think such a profound loss is something that ever really leaves you.
Fortunately, the immensity of the loss does lessen over time. With the help of friends and family members and a wonderful therapist, my heart is slowly healing. Everyone experiences loss differently and there is no panacea for grieving.
But one element that has helped me during the grieving process is my belief that my mother’s death here on earth was not the end for her, that she is in a better place looking down on us. I don’t think it matters what religion you practice, but a sense of spirituality seems to help me find some peace in grief.
Two months before my mom died, my mother’s friend Mary gave my sister and I a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. The author, Don Piper, is a minister whose car was smashed in a horrible accident. Don was unconscious for 90 minutes after the crash, and in his book, he details what he saw: heaven. What Don experienced sounds like the most beautiful homecoming one could ever receive ¬– all his relatives and friends who had passed on before him were there to greet him as he entered heaven.
I had just finished reading this book before my mother died, and as my sister drove us to the hospice center to say our final goodbyes, I closed my eyes and pictured what my mother’s own homecoming would be like. She would see her aunts and uncles; her grandparents; her friend Sharon; her student Caleb; two of my sister’s young friends, Nicole and Jen; my Nanny (her mother-in-law); and most importantly, her own mother, my MomMom.
Unfortunately, my sister and I arrived too late to see my mother for a final time before she passed on. I was devastated at the time, but now I like to think that maybe while I was imaging my mother entering heaven, she was experiencing it herself.
I hope and pray that Bobbi Kristina, and all people suffering from losing their loved ones, will be granted the gift of time to heal their hearts, will have the support from loving family and friends, and will hold tight to their spirituality during a period in of their lives when they’ll need it the most.