Singing goodbye to my mom: How the five practices of Self-Reg are helping me through my grief

Singing goodbye to my mom

My mom closed her eyes for the last time on a Sunday night last September and she took her last breath almost 5 days later. Over a short series of blogs to follow, I will share some personal reflections on the five steps of Self-Reg as practices that helped me through my grief and how much I am learning in the process.

I grappled with the title for this blog series. I didn’t want it to sound like an expert giving advice on how to get through grief because I can’t offer that. I wanted to tell a story, my story. Part of this story was a song I sang hundreds of times to my mom over the long hours of her time in palliative care – a place she never actually saw with her own eyes. Of course, it wasn’t in any plan I had ever imagined to sound as though I had walked out of a sappy movie about losing your mom. But in the end, that’s what it likely looked like on the outside. A daughter singing Amazing Grace over and over again –the song she’d heard her mom singing to herself thousands of times before.

I can’t carry a tune, nor was I in a state to breathe easily and sometimes the words just wouldn’t come out. So you can just imagine what a sight I was. If you’d have listened carefully you may have also heard my brother joining me and humming along with the very last singing as our mom struggled for and then took her last breath.

We sang my mom goodbye and I know she felt us there.

My mom was a character, complex and struggling in many ways, but always loving. She laughed easily and could be so funny in unexpected ways. Just days before she passed away, she playfully teased the doctor in ICU who told her she was dying, that under different circumstances she’d have thought he was kind of cute.

Self-Reg is helping me with the grief that still reminds me regularly that it has taken up a home in my heart and my body. For me, Self-Reg is a way of knowing, a way of seeing, and a way of understanding ourselves and others a little more in all types of life experiences including grief and loss.

In the vlog below, Susan opens up to Stuart about the loss of her mother. You can watch the vlog below or on our YouTube Channel here.

Dr. Susan Hopkins is the Executive Director of Dr. Stuart Shanker's organization, Susan has been a teacher, school administrator, inclusive schooling coordinator, curriculum developer, educational researcher, and educational leader. She has worked in every area of education from the early years to post-secondary, from remote Northern schools to the Department of Education, and across contexts that include Italy and the Northwest Territories.
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