Coping With Grief, One Year Later
Last April, I lost my mom to cancer. She was too young to die at 60. She was funny and sassy and my mom through and through. So much has happened in the last year, grandchildren got older, one started high school, one kindergarten, holidays passed, I had a milestone birthday, there was so much that I missed her through.
But now the year has passed and I am surprised I am not “better,”- whatever that means to the grief process. Why do I miss her more but in a different way? I have gone on-line often in the last year. I have consulted the Hospice website, read books about grieving and talked to those in the mental health field about grief.
I do not feel that this “doctor” (or social worker, in this case) can heal thy self.
And over the last year I have met many people who have also experienced grief in one form or another–death, loss of job, home, community, a child going to college or even kindergarten, loss of a marriage and for some feeling a loss of self. Grief is a theme throughout periods of our life and yet we don’t always understand it.
First, I want to say, grief has many feelings attached to it. They can be: sadness, anger, frustration, loneness, guilt, shame.
All of these feelings are normal. Does it help to talk about them? Absolutely. While grieving it is normal to feel a lot it is also normal to seek out someone to talk to. Keeping it all in does not make it go away; it makes you feel more and more chaotic. Please find someone to talk to that supports you and validates your feelings.
There are many things I have learned this year about grief. When she first died I understand that shock and sadness were normal, even crying was ok, however, I expected to “go through this grief thing” quickly because we were expecting. Nope, it doesn’t happen that way.
Grief has to happen on its own time.
Slowly with some sadness.
I also was surprised over the last year that I was surprised that life happened for everyone else. Other people knew my mom died but they were living their own life. I remember at times being annoyed by this, but those closest to me remembered and it helped. Those closest to me got me through. They still get me through.
I am also surprised that I am good with crying. I don’t do it a lot. But when I do, I really do. It is ok. I sometimes just need to. It is sad when I want my mom around and she isn’t here. Sometimes it really, really stinks. I knew I would miss the big stuff and those obvious moments. I didn’t know that when I was trying to plan for a party that ordinarily my mom would have had a million great ideas for that it would make me miss her more than Christmas Day, when I planned on missing her.
Other things I learned. I can work like a dog, clean like a crazy woman and plan a million things to do with my daughters and I will still miss my mom. You can’t “busy” yourself through grief.
Sleep is important.
So it eating right and getting exercise.
The last two months of early morning walks have given me some precious time to think. Balance in life during grief is essential.
Grief is not something to “get over”- the loss of a loved one is an adjustment to your life.
There is no getting over it. That simplifies the relationship. Relationships can continue once someone has died. My mom had a habit of putting her hand on her hips and saying “tisk-tisk” when she wasn’t happy. My daughter, who does remember her healthy, one day put her hands on her hips and “tisked” her sister. Relationships continue.
Anger comes and anger goes. Acknowledging it and moving on is normal. Be aware of it and then work to let it go. Be aware when you are angry what you are angry about and be aware that sometimes anger is inflicted on the wrong person.
I also know there have been many blessing during the last year. My support system has been amazing. My daughter and I have gotten closer as we both realize the depth of mother and daughter relationships. My stepdad and I have become close and he has worked hard to get me through the tough times. There have been blessings.
This is just what my experience. Everyone is different. I am not an expert on my grief. I encourage those of you grieving to reach out to others, friends, loved ones, clergy, therapists, support groups. It is important to talk about your loved one and remember your loved one. It is also important to take care of yourself.
In closing a quote from Pierre Auguste Renoir, “the pain passes, but the beauty remains.” I think that this is how I view grief in the next year. I believe that the pain will lessen and all of her beauty will remain in my life.