I can’t believe it’s been four years today since my mom passed away from an almost 20-year battle with Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer of the plasma cells.

That’s 1460 days without talking to her.

One of the worst parts of losing someone you love is the harsh reality that you can’t just call them up to tell them something funny, or to kvetch or when you need their advice. Grief is a long, complicated process with no shortcuts.

My mom was feisty, kind and smart. She pushed and supported me in my educational and career goals. She was there for me during breakups and tough times. I really needed her over the past few months dealing with major changes in my life that I didn’t choose. 

Last year my awesome sister-in-law suggested that we open a bottle of champagne while my brother and I recounted a favorite memory of our mom and toast her instead of being sad. I thought it was a great new tradition and one that I wanted to share with others who may also benefit from doing something like this. We are going to do it again tonight to honor my mom.

Your life can change in an instant. Tragedies and illnesses happen. Make sure to spend as much time as possible with and be good to the people you love. I don’t think it ever gets easier to deal with the death of a loved one – especially around the holidays. You never know what someone is dealing with so be kind to one another.

Here’s the thing though – you can choose to wallow in tragedy, or you can choose to make hardships and the worst times of your life teaching moments and turn them into something good. You’d be surprised just how resilient each of us are if we just believe it.

Also, some of us must choose to be happy at certain points in our lives in order to turn the tide around or just to carry on and not to fall into a dark hole of despair. Happiness doesn’t always come easy to everyone. Sometimes a tragedy can serve as the catalyst to cause us to reevaluate what we want from our lives.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stop just because we are going through a personal tragedy. The sun still rises and sets, and we all still must get up and put on our game faces and go to work, and take care of our families, and just keep going no matter how hard it is.

I wrote an article on grief and wanted to share it in case it’s helpful to others. I know I’m not alone in dealing with the death of a loved one. Know that your loved one is always with you, looking down on you and is proud of all you’ve done and the strong person you are.