Grief Shows Up When You Least Expect It

A few weeks ago, I was at Old Navy shopping for some new clothes. I had a gift card that had been burning a hole in my wallet for months, so I finally decided to use it.

I was about halfway through the women’s section, carrying a huge pile of clothes over my arm, mindlessly flipping through stacks of folded jeans on a table. I looked up to see a big display sign that said Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

I felt a sudden pang in my heart.

My chest felt like it was caving in.

My eyes began to fill with tears, as I stared off into the distance, unable to see anything in front of me.

My mind went back to the time many years ago that I took my mom shopping with me at Old Navy. It wasn’t really a store she shopped at, but I thought she might like to come along with me anyway. Plus, there was a Boscov’s next door that I could take her to afterward. She loved Boscov’s.

She was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s at the time. She just followed me around the store like a lost child, anxiously waiting for someone to tell her what to do.

I began looking through stacks of the new Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans, which had just come out. My mom started looking through them, as well, and asked me what size I thought she would need. I scoffed at her and told her that these jeans really weren’t for her. She looked embarrassed and I could tell that she felt stupid for even thinking she could wear them.

I immediately regretted my reaction and my attitude toward her. In fact, I’ve regretted that one single interaction with my mom for the last several years. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and do it over again!

When I walked into Old Navy that day a few weeks ago, I wasn’t even thinking about my mom at all. It’s not a store that really reminds me of her. We rarely ever went there together. That day several years ago might have been the only time we ever did. And I haven’t thought about that day in so long. I certainly wasn’t thinking about it when I walked into the store.

But then I saw that sign.

That sign triggered something in me.

That sign zapped me back in time.

That sign instantly made me think about my mom.

That sign made me miss her.

That’s the thing about grief. It shows up when you least expect it.

Just when you think you’ve got your shit together, there you are blubbering over a stack of folded Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans that will most likely never fit you anyway.

There you are staring off into the distance, replaying every second and every word of a conversation that happened so many years ago.

There you are missing her and wishing you could take it all back, wishing you could call her right then and there to tell her you’re sorry.

But you can’t.

You can’t call her. You can’t apologize. You can’t do anything at all. So instead, you suck it up and you pull yourself together to go into the dressing room and try on the jeans that made you cry.

Because after all, that’s grief. It shows up when you least expect it and just like that, it’s gone again.


Grief shows up when you least expect it.

4 thoughts on “Grief Shows Up When You Least Expect It

  1. I have been “following” your blog for awhile and on Facebook have shared. I have cared for my mom and husband in their final years and believe it was my finest “calling”. They had Both contributed so much to My life and I felt Blessed to be of service to them. Thank you so very much for your inspiring words.

    Regards, Jean Dickinson

  2. Lauren, I’m so glad to have found your blog. You speak to my heart and experiences every time you post. I remember when my dad told me in a “stage whisper” that my mom was losing her memory and he thought he would have to “commit her”. Of course she heard and was devastated. I took her out to calm her down and talk with her and she said she didn’t want to lose her memory, but wouldn’t agree to go see a doctor. I’ve regretted ever since that I didn’t take her anyway, that if only I’d intervened sooner she might not have declined so much. She is now in a nursing home and knows who I am most of the time, but it is truly heartbreaking to lose my mother and best friend. I agree, we are in a state of constant grieving. Thank you for listening.

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