When she was 25, Melissa Bright lost her mom. The grief of losing her closest confidant and support system hit her hard. Even 10 years later, when quarantine happened, Melissa realized she had not healed from the hole in her life.
“I found myself missing my mom more than normal. She had passed away ten years prior, and I just wanted to talk to her to tell her the craziness that was happening in the world,” she tells Love What Matters. “It was really this perfect storm looking back on it. I had a breakdown after watching a movie that my mom and I used to watch and told my boyfriend I needed professional help to deal with the loss.”
Melissa always had a strong relationship with her mom, who raised her mostly on her own after her parent’s divorce. Their relationship grew even stronger after Melissa gave birth to her own daughter at sixteen.
“My mom instantly became my best friend. Not that we weren’t close before, but there were no more secrets. She knew it all after that. She never judged me,” Melissa tells Love What Matters. “Once my daughter was born, they were attached at the hip. I obviously was still in high school when I had her, so my mom helped me out so much. They created this bond that makes me sad to think about because they are both missing out on it now.”
Because of their close relationship, the grief that Melissa experienced encompassed much of her life for years to come. Whenever she was happy with her family, she would get anxious waiting for the other shoe to drop, always looking for the next thing to go wrong.
“After losing her, my worst nightmare had just happened, and it was like the world became less kind to me. I felt stripped of my innocence. It was the first time I really felt that the world wasn’t fair,” she says. “There was no more being naive. Bad things happen and they can happen to anyone. I thought I dealt with my mom’s death. But what I actually did was push it so far down that I didn’t deal with it. And that developed into debilitating anxiety.”
After 10 years, Melissa finally began therapy and her healing journey. She not only started to work through her grief, but also looked at how to move forward and figure out her true passions in life. Working as a travel agent at the time, the pandemic provided the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate her career. During this time, she started a podcast and social media accounts to help others who were grieving feel less alone.
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“People share their stories of pain, struggles, and grief and how they ultimately were able to find their path back to the bright side of life, whatever that means to them,” Melissa says. “When I felt alone, it helped when I would hear someone’s story that was similar to mine, and to see they were doing good and were happy. It gave me hope. That’s what I want my podcast to do. I want it to educate and inspire people.”
Through her work, Melissa hopes to help everyone realize that there’s no right way to grieve. It can be the most difficult time of your life, but healing is possible.
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says. This is YOUR grief journey. Everyone will grieve differently. So have some compassion for yourself and others. There is no timeline. Grief is not linear. It’s going to come and go in waves,” Melissa tells Love What Matters.
“Please don’t be too hard on yourself. It won’t help to force how they should be acting or feeling on them,” she says. “We all grieve differently. It’s so much better to cry for a few minutes than to store it in your body for years.”
Melissa’s journey is proof that there’s no timeline and that grief can be a years-long process. Healing can be a long and difficult process, but it also allows for a more open and joyful life.
This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. You can follow Melissa Bright of St. Louis, Missouri on Instagram. Listen to her podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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