Lessons Learned Through A Year Of Grief

Lessons Learned Through A Year Of Grief

2023 will always be the year that my mom passed away.

I’ve never experienced a loss as great as this, and I’ve never experienced this level of grief. Although 2023 was the hardest year of my life, through this first year of grieving my mother’s passing, I have actually grown and learned so much.

Lesson #1: I am stronger than I thought.

The mere thought of losing my mom seemed unbearable. I figured I would be inconsolable and not be able to go on with my life. But once I was faced with the reality of her death, the opposite was true. I was able to plan a beautiful service for my mother. I was able to get myself out of bed. I was able to go back to work. I was able to continue to care for my children. I was still able to smile and laugh and have fun moments with my family. It took all of the strength I had, but I did it. I’ve learned that I have a fighting spirit and that there is nothing that life can throw at me that will be too much for me to bear.

Lesson #2: Grief does not look the same for everyone.

You think you know how it will feel to experience the loss of a loved one, but you really don’t know until that time comes. The stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – they’re supposed to occur in a linear fashion, right? But the truth is you may not experience these exact stages in this exact order. And there is no telling how long you may be in one stage or another. Or maybe you will find yourself regressing to a stage that you thought you had surpassed. Or maybe you will experience one or more stages at the same time. I can honestly say that I’ve experienced all of these emotions and more throughout this past year. I’ve learned to be patient with myself and gentle with my emotions because grief is such a delicate and unpredictable process.

Lessons Learned Through A Year Of Grief

Lesson #3: Have more compassion for others.

After the death of my mom, I feel like I’ve joined the worse exclusive club ever, the club of those who have lost their mother. As a member of this club, I now understand how it feels. It’s an indescribable feeling that only members of the club know. I’ve learned to have more compassion for humanity in general as we all have or will experience grief and loss at some point in our lives. In a way, grief has made me a better person in that I am now more empathetic. It’s true, you never know what a person is going through so just be kind.

Lesson #4: Do all the things.

After experiencing a great loss, you may think life is over. On the contrary, I’ve found that my mother’s passing has given me a new lease on life. My outlook on life has changed significantly in the past year. I now want to do (or at least try) all of the things because I’m suddenly realizing life is short. My mom was a major inspiration in my life and my biggest cheerleader. She poured so much into me in growing up, making sure I received a good education and had meaningful experiences, so that I could be successful. Many of the accomplishments I have achieved are because I wanted to make her proud. Now that she’s gone, I find myself wanting to continue to make her proud, to honor her legacy. I’m setting new goals and going after them like never before. I’ve learned that life does not have to end after the death of a loved one.

My mom was an educator for over 30 years, and she was my first teacher. I find it fitting that I am still learning lessons from her even after her passing.

Lessons Learned Through A Year Of Grief

Samii Kennedy Benson
Dr. Samii Kennedy Benson is Originally from Columbia, South Carolina. She was a nomad for many years living in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Baltimore before accepting a professorship at Southern University and taking root in Zachary, LA with her family in 2018. Samii is married to her electrician husband DeQugan and together they have three girls: her bonus daughter Jordan (17), Honour (12) and Streeter (3). Samii holds three degrees, a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences Education (formerly Home Economics) from the HBCU, SC State University, a MS in Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors from UGA and a PhD. in Apparel Merchandising and Design from Iowa State. When she is not teaching, thinking about, or trying on the latest fashions, she enjoys traveling, family time, and DIY-ing. A perfect day for Samii would include a Mardi Gras parade – bonus points if she’s rolling with her krewe, the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale - a Target run, Tex-Mex and Margaritas!


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