Friday, March 16, 2012
Grieving is Not for Wimps
If you read my last post, you know that my mother died in January. She'd been with us in our home, with Hospice support, for a month before her death.
I think about her and miss her every day. In ways large and small, she is always still *right there*... in my mind, and in my heart.
Apparently sometime when I wasn't looking, the traditional, well-known "5 stages of grief" became 7 stages. I do agree. I never thought that denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance could really encompass it all... and that was before I'd ever even had this kind of up close and personal experience with grief. The 7 stages of grief, according to recoverfromgrief.com are: shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger and bargaining; depression, reflection and loneliness; the upward turn; reconstruction and working through; acceptance and hope.
Yeah... I'd say that pretty much covers it all.
I'm surprised at how accurate that is. I don't think I ever really felt the anger and bargaining part... but other than that... oh yeah. Been there. It is getting easier, though. Thank goodness or I'd have never lived through it. The first 2 weeks were horrific. Truly torturous, suffocating pain. The next two weeks, not much better, but at least I could breathe. Then slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, I started to feel better. Hour by hour, day by day, the veil of hurt started to lift a little.
Oh, it hasn't gone away... and I know it never fully will. And I wouldn't want it to. But I also know that she wouldn't want me to feel that way forever, either. She would hate that.
So I'm carrying on... trying to be strong... trying to learn to live without my mother. *sigh* I guess I'm doing OK.
A few things really blindsided me, though. Once she was gone, every photo, every letter, every little memento of her took on such new significance with me. Pictures I had for years suddenly became incredibly precious, because the dawning reality was: there would be no more.
And every morning at 8:00 I still think, "Time to call Mom ---" Oh.
Every time I drive by her apartment building, I still think, "I'll stop and visit Mom ---" Oh.
When I'm planning dinner for family or friends, I still think, "I want to invite Mom ---" Oh.
When I read or hear a corny joke that I know she'd love, I still think, "Gotta tell Mom ---" Oh.
I wonder how long that will last?
My humble (though admittedly rookie) advice to others who are dealing with grief after losing someone they love? Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time. Take a nap, take a walk, take a bath.
Keep a journal, if that helps you. Two weeks after my mom died, I wrote her a letter. I knew she wasn't ever going to read it, but it helped me immensely to put all those powerful, swirling emotions and feelings down on paper, giving them identity and a voice.
Treat yourself and others kindly. I think that is so incredibly important. Sometimes when we are in terrible pain, the human tendency is to strike or lash out at those closest to us. Try not to forget to appreciate and cherish those who are still with you.
Allow yourself tears, but remember it's OK to laugh and smile, too.
But most of all, find peace and joy in remembering -- because every precious memory that you carry in your heart means that in some very special way, they are still with you.
Top photo credit: HERE