I can’t believe that tomorrow will be two months since my mom died.
Sometimes I really don’t think that I’m handling it very well and other times I think that I’m not sad enough.
I have days where I’m very zen about the loss. Where I can acknowledge that we were at least reasonably lucky in that we knew it was coming (even if we thought it was not coming quite so quickly) and we got to say goodbye, or at least try to say goodbye. ((I have read that this is called “anticipatory grief” and supposedly helps you “accept” the loss of your loved one more easily. I want to punch whoever said that in the throat. Loss is not easy. Loss is never easy.)) I can imagine that the questions and shock and anger and rage would be even worse had mom’s death been a total surprise.
And then I have days where I am gripped by a black mood so dark and foul and smothering that it seems as though I’ll never be able to smile again. Never be able to find anything even remotely joyful in the world. Days where I wonder “What is the point of it all? Honestly, why do we bother?” Thankfully, at this point, they are just days and not weeks or months.
And I’ll have days where it hits me in waves of thirty minutes or an hour and it sucks and then it’s over. Where I have to grit my teeth and hang on or cry and rage and wail and get it out – and then I move on.
Sometimes I get really angry at the people around me, for they seem to have forgotten that my mom is dead and it sucks a lot. Or I get angry when I’m having a particularly hard day and they sort of pat me on the shoulder and tell me it will be all right. I want to tell them to go screw themselves because I don’t want their platitudes, I want my mom back.
Sometimes I want to do something outrageous so that everyone can see that I’m still hurting. That even if I’m having a “good” day, I’m still hurting and grieving and lost. One of my coworkers just lost his mother as well and, as a practicing Jew, won’t shave for the first thirty days of mourning. I have to admit, I’m jealous. Where’s my outward way of remembering my mother and honoring my grief? I think about running away to the coast, blowing off work for a few days and making everyone worry and then they will see how much I miss her.
My sister sent me a link to an awesome set of articles that this woman wrote about grief and loss. The similarities are uncanny – her mom, named Barbara, died of cancer on Christmas day. (Near enough to December 20th to strike me as eerie. And in case you didn’t know, my mom was also named Barbara.) Reading about her experiences, I am heartened that I am not crazy. I’m not broken (well, I am a little broken, but we are all a little broken). I’m grieving and apparently I’m pretty normal. ((At one point she talks about being angry at having her grief classified as “normal” and I totally agree. Deep down, we all want to be special and I am no exception. I want validation that my grief and sadness kicks everyone else’s grief and sadness’ ass. Not that that would necessarily be a good thing…))
So far my favorite entry is “Hamlet’s not depressed. He’s grieving.” If you don’t want to read it, that’s cool. ((Although you should, even if you’ve not experienced the loss of a loved one. It’s a good look into what it’s like and may give you a little understanding.)) My favorite bit is where she says:
It’s not just that Hamlet is sad; it’s that everyone around him is unnerved by his grief. And Shakespeare doesn’t flinch from that truth. He captures the way that people act as if sadness is bizarre when it is all too explainable…. It’s not just guilty people who act this way. Some are eager to get past the obvious rawness in your eyes or voice; why should they step into the flat shadows of your “sterile promontory”? Even if they wanted to, how could they? And this tension between your private sadness and the busy old world is a huge part of what I feel as I grieve—and felt most intensely in the first weeks of loss.
It’s true. Grief is unnerving. Depression and sadness are unnerving. Why do you think there is such a social stigma attached to antidepressant use when they are no worse or better than blood pressure pills or diabetes medications? And I try to remember that when I get the perfunctory or awkward pats on the shoulder, that that is honestly the best that some people can do. (I also do have friends and coworkers who have been awesome. Not everyone shies away from someone who is sad or pretends that it hasn’t happened. So don’t think I am adrift in a sea of loneliness with no help or companionship. The DreadBrewer has been amazing. My friend Julie has been amazing. My sister has been amazing.)
If you don’t know what to do when confronted by someone who is grieving, check out this post on how to help by Julie. When I originally read it, before my mom died, I realized how little help I had been when my own parent lost their parents. And when DB lost his grandmother. And when John lost his mom. But I didn’t understand at the time because grief is like this awful, awful club that you don’t understand until you belong.
I hate belonging to the grief club. Can we please revoke my membership?