Friday, October 21, 2016

Dealing with Grief

After a text conversation in the middle of the night last night, I got to thinking about grieving. One thing that is for sure with grief is that you never get over losing your parent or your child or your spouse. It's supposed to get better over with time, but after having my mom in my life for 48 years, I am still in deep mourning for her and I still reach for the phone to call her. She was my moral compass in life and I am sure I have made many mistakes since her passing in 2013. I know that my grief is getting worse and not better. It happens in the car. I'll hear a song that reminds me of her and burst into tears. I have to drive by the cemetery twice a week, but I have not been able to force myself to go in. It's too much like acknowledging she's gone and, frankly, I don't think she'd want me standing at her grave sobbing (which has also happened) instead of living my life.

I was doing a lot of thinking last night about grief when I couldn't get back to sleep after that text came in. Most people have enough family to get the support they need when someone dies. But I come from a very small family. It was me, my brother, my dad, and my mom. When my mom died, it felt like someone had ripped out my heart. Three and a half years later, it still feels like someone ripped out my heart.

As a support system shrinks, life becomes less worth living and depression and grief set in again. As grief takes over, I have been less available to be a support for others, making my support system shrink even more.  The more people in your immediate circle that pass away, the less you feel like making an effort and life becomes about what you've lost and loneliness. You either learn to cope with your loss or you self-medicate. If you have a traumatic event, say a car accident where you break your back and it takes years to heal, you lose your physical independence and your ability to take care of yourself financially. Eventually, your family can't even stand to be around you.

Being unable to pick up and make changes to your life, to start over, seems to lead to an inability to work through your grief as you continue with the same life you had, but you are still missing a huge part of your heart.. The ability to make a move in a positive direction would most likely bring a new life and new supports. Staying in one place because of the financial and family commitments you have made becomes like being a tree. You can't just pick up roots and get away from the place you feel the most pain. I still live in the same house as when my mom passed away and I hate it because she visited me here many times. If we could just sell the house and move, I might feel like it was easier to move on. Unfortunately, I don't have that ability. I'm waiting on kids who are almost grown up to move on with their lives and support themselves and then I will be able to make a decision about what I want to do with my husband for the last part of our own lives.

I have been living in a deep depression and horrific mourning for my mother that I feel every single day. I am reminded of her everywhere I turn, as her quilts are on my walls, her picture on my walls, special gifts scattered around the house.

We are coming up on the holidays again. I used to love the holidays. Now it feels like just one more thing I have to suffer through and get to the other side so that I can regain some semblance of "normalcy." My new normal, as my mom used to say when she found out she was terminal.

My mom left knowing I love her more than life itself and that I would never get over missing her. I know it has to be even harder on my father, as he lost everything when he lost her. They were married for 50 years and every year when their anniversary comes around, I don't know whether to say anything or leave it alone. This year would have been 54 years. My dad lost the love of his life, someone he counted on and who was the only partner he would ever be able to love. In a way, we share the grief, because I feel the same way, even though she was my mother. There is a mom sized hole inside me and nothing will make it better.

People keep telling me that it gets easier over time. How much time does it take to get used to not having a mother? I don't have that answer.