life 10 years after a big loss

I am alive - Noelle

10 years since my mom has passed away.

I wrote this today, and wanted to share it here in case it can offer perspective or help to anyone. Whether it’s been 10 years or 1 week.


It’s 10 years since my sweet mom passed unexpectedly.

It’s amazing how life can change in a moment. 2008-2009 was such a pivotal time in my life.

My husband and I were freshly married and on our honeymoon when my mom passed. There were job changes, a miscarriage, a dog passed, a recession, it was A LOT those 14 months.


I’m am still here, I’ve survived this broken heart!

Ten years out I still miss my mom daily but can now focus on more of our time together than just thinking of her passing.  My family was fractured. Since, I’ve watched my siblings and dad slowly over 10 years go through co-dependent stages, anger, barely talking, to finding a new normal. I finally feel like we’ve all finally found our strides and are all stronger now.

sisters with mom

After that really tough 14 months ten years ago, all I could do was just celebrate that I was still here. I didn’t give up. I’ve focused on the good with all I could (and there was and is SO much good).

I always believe that there are certain moments in our life where there is a chapter change.  Sometimes we invite these times, others we fight them. These are moments where we get to take a new reality and re-write the rules for our lives. We decide what we’ll focus on, reset our boundaries, what we are no longer going to accept, how we want to live our lives with a fresh clarity, a new outlook. Conveniently these are windows of time when others around us know things have changed and may not fight us as much while me make those changes.

“they were only getting to know the partially broken me”

I also remember the frustration when I felt like many people in the years following my mom’s passing and the other things mentioned above, only were getting to know the partially broken me. I had the wind knocked out of me. While I re-found my footing I had people criticize me with the most hurtful, soul deep judgements. What people don’t tell you about losing a best friend, a mom.. at least for me; I lost that person who was always in my corner. She’d listen to any trouble I was having and be there to give me perspective, reassure me. I’m grateful my sisters too were so supportive too. (At least as much as they could be having 7 babies between them in the 10 years since… they’ve had their own pretty full plates. ❤️) It took me a few years to be able to be a stronger person to speak up for my own needs without getting that validation from her.

On the other hand, I know this entire grieving process was made infinitely easier having a strong man by my side. The weeks he washed dishes while I grieved and never even mentioned it or complained, the way he’d let me alternate between tears and laughs from a good memory and never make me feel silly. He is a true gift to me, I’m so grateful for the way we’ve been able to grow together through the good and the hard.

mom daughter grandma

I’ll never know how things would be if my mom was still here. But I look at a layer of strength we’ve all gained, a deeper bond. An understanding that being vulnerable or grieving does not equal being weak. I’ve found a deeper an appreciate for life and those around us and I’m grateful for those things. My mom taught me so much about love, giving, helping, parenting, creating, marriage, running a household.  I’m so grateful for those lessons.  I see now that we were also able to learn really valuable things from her even in her death. Things she maybe wouldn’t have been able to teach us if she was still here.

I am alive - Noelle

I share this for anyone who has experienced fresh loss.  Time will help heal.  For me, there is always a hole in my heart still though and I don’t mind. That is her space. Even though it’s really full of amazing memories I do appreciate the little empty spot too. I don’t really want to “heal” it. It’s a connection to rawness, to a missing, to the unknown, to faith in the unseen. ❤️

Sending love to each of you on this incredibly tough journey, navigating a new reality.

noelle rollins art signature


PS – if you want to read more about the experiences I’ve had with signs and a reading from a medium since her passing you can read that here.

PSS – Here is a blog post that goes into much more detail of when I felt judged in the aftermath of grief and life choices