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Posts Tagged ‘#grieving’

Today is one year since my mom died. It seems like I should do a post about the significance of this milestone. I honestly don’t know what to say. I should have been thinking about it for some time and planning it out. Greg and I have been mentioning it to each other almost every day. Instead of grieving though, we have been living. 

Mom2
Thinking where I was emotionally a year ago to how I’m doing now is nothing short of miraculous. I had spent so much time with my mother in my lifetime, that life without her was unfathomable. I didn’t see how I could handle being alone. Luckily, I’m not alone. I have the best husband in the world. Needless to say, when he’s at work, I’ve had to be alone. Of course, we’ve got 3 dogs so alone is a relative term. I have come to realize there are a lot worse things than being alone. I even relish some time alone now. You’d think having time to myself would motivate me to write blog posts, list things for sale online, write emails to people I’ve lost touch with, make phone calls, post pictures to Instagram, etc. None of this is happening. I don’t know why. When I’m with my hubby, I am active and almost bubbly. When alone, I tend to gravitate to the boob tube (tv). Sure, I’ve got lots recorded on Directv to catch up on from when we were gone. But that’s no excuse to not have goals or things you want to get done every day. 
MomandElvis
I’m not completely sedentary. I still walk the dogs every single day, rain or shine. I do laundry, load the dishwasher, minimal cleaning, regular hygiene. As far as striving to attain or accomplish anything, it’s not happening. Maybe part of it is I no longer have anyone to tell when something good happens. I used to love to share everything with Mom, the good and the bad in my life. I know I’m not depressed like I was after she passed away. 
Mom3
I have come so far and yet I feel like I still have more unseen healing to do to get back to myself. I asked hubby when he felt like he recovered from Mom’s death and he said, “I’ll let you know.” Today he sent me an email with tons of pictures of Mom in it. It didn’t make me cry, it made me happy to see her smiling face. I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore but I had a moment the other night. I asked Greg, “Do you think Mom misses me?” He said, “Of course she does!” I still miss her every day but in a good way. The other night I got to thinking about how we both would start laughing hysterically if we saw the other one laughing. There didn’t even need to be anything funny. It was just a contagious thing that felt good. 
Mom1
I realize this post is “all about me” instead of honoring her. She is the wind beneath my wings and I want to make her proud again. I recently heard the Ed Sheehan song, “Supermarket Flowers” for the first time. It made my cry but it made me realize she really lived her life. I could live to her age but not have gone through half of what she did. She had no regrets and did everything she wanted to. The lyrics “A life with love is a life that’s been lived” and “A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved” ring true. “You were an angel in the shape of my mum. You got to see the person I have become. Spread your wings and I know that when God took you back he said Hallelujah You’re home.” 
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Since I last wrote, I am happy to report that I’ve started to heal from the loss of my mom. 3 weeks from today will be 9 months since she passed away. I can say with some confidence that will be all the time I need to fully accept her death and no longer have the empty feeling I had right after it happened. It takes 9 months to grow a baby and bring a new life to fruition. Logically, 9 months should be enough time to come to terms with the death of a loved one. Of course, it’s not as cut and dried as that. I will still miss her and think of her every day. I may even still occasionally have a bad day. But now I think I can go on without feeling so alone. Everything she taught me and all the time we spent together prepared me for this eventuality. Looking back, I really expected too much of myself to be over the grief in only a month or two. That was totally unrealistic. I wouldn’t expect someone else who went through this to be over it so soon. Yet I’ve always set high standards for myself which are impossible to meet.
April 27th, I had finally succumbed to the idea that I needed an antidepressant to survive the pain. As I’ve documented in my last post, it made me a ghost of my former self. Unable to reach any depth of emotion (happy or sad) and basically numbed out. It masks feelings which creates a zombie like existence. I’m sure different people react differently to different meds. I can only speak to how they affected me. I had made my mind up that I would slowly wean myself off the Lexapro and told the doctor when I saw him on July 6th. I had read up online and just like you have to slowly up the dose when you start them, you have to slowly decrease the dose. I came up with my own game plan and informed the doctor I’d be taking 2 weeks of 15 mg (1 1/2 pills), then 2 weeks of 10 mg. I’m seeing him again on July 27th so we’ll see if I need to go down to 5 mg for a few days before quitting all together. I read about all kinds of bad reactions people got from stopping. I haven’t felt any of those. He had me start taking them a few hours before bedtime instead of in the morning which works better for me. I am excited to be off them and see if anything carries over from my time on them. 


I don’t regret trying Lexapro (generic). I think it served its purpose. I could never see being on it long term though. One thing I learned to do while taking it is relax. I was always a person on the go and never sat still for long. I mean, I can sit and watch movies or tv but during the day I would be into one thing or the other at all times. I never liked wasting time and felt I should be doing something. This tended to make me a nervous person who would worry if things didn’t get done. On Lexapro, I’ve been able to sit and do nothing. I don’t exactly like the zombie feeling but I am calmer. I’m hoping that I’ve learned how to relax and know that things will wait for me. I don’t have to stress. 


Another reason I think I’m healing from the grief is that the last month or so I’ve been able to enjoy things again. My hubby and I have been having so many great weekends. We’ve been doing our usual treasure hunting for vintage and finding a lot of cool things. A few weeks ago we went to a tack sale just over the border into WI. We saw a sign as we were driving and pulled over. It was a horse farm and the woman running it was selling bridles, saddles and any and all horse equipment. A lot of it was new. We have no need of this but didn’t know if she’d have other things for sale. She had 2 paintings I loved but neither were for sale. My husband I call “Chatty Cathy” because he can get to talking to a stranger and goes on forever. Long past when I’m ready to leave. It all depends on his mood. That day he was talking to the woman while I walked around. She said she had baby horses (3 weeks old) and he asked if we could see them. So she took us out back. She had about 21 horses and 3 were babies. We were standing by the fence and they were talking. One of the white arabian horses came up to me. I asked if I could pet him. She said yes so I spent at least 20 minutes (maybe longer) loving on a horse! Trigger was his name. He had thrown his owner off 2 years ago and she’d had shoulder surgery that had finally healed. He took a shine to me and I couldn’t get enough of him. I was waiting for hubby to stop talking & he was waiting for me to be done petting the horse. We were at a deadlock. I got such joy out of it and the experience stuck with me ever since. I would love to have horses but they are expensive and a lot of work. We’d have to have land or a place to board them. You really can’t go away on vacation with horses unless you have someone to care for them while you’re gone. Then I started looking up places to volunteer online and they’re all over an hour away.

We’ve also been eating out a bit on the weekends. We aren’t used to eating out since last year I ate out about 4 times. We tried going out a few times earlier this year and it just felt strange. Not having mom along felt wrong. Now I know I’m healing because I can go out to lunch with my husband and say, “Mom would’ve loved this!” but not get sad. I can enjoy the whole experience. Sitting across from my hubby and sharing conversation, atmosphere and good food. It’s like we’re courting again! 😉 We found a pizza place called Paisan’s in Cicero which was just a delight. We hadn’t had pizza in 6 months and even after eating it, hubby’s blood sugar readings were normal. We also had a wonderful meal at Grand Duke’s in Summit, IL. Both of these places are on the south side of Chicago. Hubby had eaten at Grand Duke’s once before about 13 years ago and hadn’t quit bragging about it. We just so happened to be at an estate sale not far from there this past weekend and hubby suggested it again. It has the atmosphere of an old supper club in Northern WI. All dark wood inside. They specialize in Lithuanian, Polish and Bavarian food. I’m always up for trying something new. Hubby ordered us 2 Lithuanian combo platters. I have no idea what all of it was: kugelis, zeppelin, potato sausage and sausage with sauerkraut. It was mouth-watering. It was the type of food you just savor and marvel at the skill involved in making it as well as the flavor profile. It was nice to have a really memorable meal. I ended up with leftovers that I brought home and had the next day.


I’ve also been able to really enjoy our evenings again. For the longest time it was hard to watch tv without Mom. She always watched whatever we watched, sometimes falling asleep if it didn’t interest her. What we’ve been watching recently on Netflix I’ve enjoyed immensely. Netflix is the bomb! First we watched Switched At Birth and then The Fosters. Most recently The Crown. Now we’ve got to find a new series to watch. 


I hope everyone is having a good summer. I can’t believe the year is more than half over. I feel like I missed it while grieving. I guess I did. Healing just takes time and we forget that time heals all wounds. It’s not just a saying, it’s the truth.

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It’s another in a series of dark, rainy days. Gloom begets gloom. All my life, I thought I was a good writer. Not contest winning good but captivating. Someone able to hold the attention of my readers. A few months back, I read some of my earlier blog entries and my life story that I wrote at 21. It seems so mediocre to me. Not very good at all. Now I’ve lost my will to write. I don’t want to write emails, blog posts, Instagram posts, Etsy listings, grocery or to-do lists, etc. It could be because I’m grieving still for the loss of my mother. Or it could be that I’ve lost confidence in the only thing I was ever good at. The only thing I ever had confidence in to begin with. I’m not about to start day drinking although the though has crossed my mind. It gives me perspective. I always wondered at what point does someone actually start doing heroin?! A fully rational adult knows better but if life has no substance for them anymore, will they do anything to get their motivation back?! Before you start worrying that I’m on the verge of shooting up, I won’t. I can promise you that. Not just because I don’t care for needles or putting foreign substances in my body. Mostly because I already know it’s not the answer.

When Mom was alive and I was so busy taking care of her, I used her as an excuse. I couldn’t write more because I never had a block of time to sit down and write without being interrupted. I figured when she eventually passed, I would spend part of every day writing. I would either be writing a book or at least do regular blog entires. Instead I feel even less like writing. The truth is she never kept me from writing or anything else. I’m doing that all by myself.

My days are all a blur now. I no longer get up with my husband in the morning (7 am) like I always did until the first of the year. I usually get up by 8 or 8:30 am. I still walk the dogs every day except today because it is raining hard all day long with no break. I still cook meals and bake desserts. I stay caught up with the laundry. I keep my housework and hygiene routine. I pay bills on time. I still watch “Stories” on Instagram every morning and throughout the day. Snippets of other people’s full and vibrant lives. I feel almost paralyzed about sharing on social media. I’ve felt this way on and off since I first got on the internet 21 years ago. In the past month I’ve only posted a handful of pictures (mostly food). I’ve taken lots more and should be excited about sharing but feel almost afraid to share. I don’t know why but the more I need people, the more I pull away. I watch tv but only half-heartedly. TV was always such a joy to me. It was something I’d look forward to at night. Now I still watch the same shows (and some new ones) but most of the time I’m not giving it my full attention. I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone what happened in a particular episode.

I’m very short-sighted and impatient when it comes to getting over things. I like to forge ahead and get on with things. When I had the chicken pox at age 30, I was so afraid that the red marks left on my face (scars) would be there forever. I asked a coworker who had them in his 20’s if he remembered them on his face and he said yes. He said they go away over time. Of course, he was right. Everything goes away over time… A decade ago I had a medical condition I’ve never written about. Someday I will. It was so painful and kept coming back. I finally had surgery and it cured me forever. Sadly, for a few years I was petrified that it would come back. I mean, it was a daily worry that I’d have to deal with it again and forever. That was during the time I almost went on drugs for depression. I was making myself sick with fear. I couldn’t see long term. I never took the drugs and over time my anxiety about reoccurrence went away.

Now I’m back to that place again. The grief over my mom’s death has only intensified. I feel empty and alone. I feel sorry for myself. The worst thing is I’m worrying that this feeling will never end. Just through living all these years, I ought to know logically that I won’t always feel like this. However, I don’t know how long it will last. It could be weeks, months, years?! When I had Mom with me, I pushed myself to get things done every day. Extra things like listing things to sell online or just reorganizing things. Now I don’t push myself. I don’t know why. The only thing I can come up with is that “nothing matters”. It doesn’t make a difference if I do it or not. She’s still dead and I’m still here. I don’t even like posting about my grief on Instagram. People are so kind and wonderful leaving cheerful comments. But what it comes down to is there’s nothing anyone can do to help. It’s going to take time. I feel embarrassed that I’m not handling this better. I don’t like feeling vulnerable. I want to be strong and be able to just go on without being phased by the loss. April 7th will be 5 months since Mom passed away. It seems like it should be long enough to live like this. I’ve always hated “wasting time”. I know how precious life is and grieving this long feels like a waste of time. Maybe it’s one of those things that just sneaks up on you. One day, without realizing it, I’ll notice that I no longer feel this way. That I’m able to find joy again in life. Only God knows how long I need to grieve and when he thinks I’m done. In the meantime, I’m soldiering on.

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It’s been 3 months today since my mom passed away. I still miss her as much as you might imagine. However, I’ve found out that’s she’s inside me. Not only in my heart but in basically how I am, act, speak and look. 
When I was in college, a friend was looking at a professional portrait our little family had taken around the time I graduated from high school. It was just my dad, my mom and me. This friend commented that she’d never seen anyone look equally like both parents. Usually people favor one parent over the other in appearance, if not completely looking like a double. At the time, I never saw it. I thought I looked mostly like my dad. Now that she’s gone, I see her when I look in the mirror. Maybe only in the light behind my eyes because she had green eyes and I have brown. I hate looking in the mirror but seeing her makes me hate it a bit less. 


I feel like I’ve aged quite a bit since she died. I felt much younger than her because I was. 41+ years age difference will do that to you. Now all of a sudden, I am understanding how hard I pushed her to do things. I made her get dressed everyday, even putting on her own socks. I helped her as needed but didn’t let her get away with not doing it. I think if I hadn’t made her do those things, she would’ve lost the ability. The old, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. I sit on the basement floor (carpeted) and sort laundry and pretreat stains, etc. Then getting up off the floor is no joke. I used to be able to do it like nothing but since I hurt my knee a year ago, it’s slow going. My knee is healed but “tricky” and gives me pain or acts up if I don’t watch it. I can now kneel on both knees. I pretty much marvel every day that Mom could get out of the bathtub by herself at 95 1/2. She was working in the garden every day weeding until age 88 or so. The fact that she could adapt to all the advances in technology is mind boggling. She grew up without electricity or running water. Back when there was a party line for the telephone and a horse and buggy to go to town. Yet she learned to drive a car at age 12. She lived through a lot of changes and embraced them all. She loved playing slot games on the computer.


We were very different personality-wise. She and my husband were both born in April and were similar in a lot of ways. I’m more calculated in doing things. Before doing things, I like to research things and do a lot of thinking and planning about them. Both of them would get an idea and just run with it. They’d try anything and always be up for an adventure. I’d have to be coaxed into it. Both my mom and husband dislike greeting cards. They also don’t like exchanging presents. My mom would send a few Christmas cards to her sister, her nieces and 2 coworkers she had met 70 years ago and had still kept in touch with. She liked receiving cards from these people. She disliked writing letters but would force herself to write her sister, brother and those coworkers a few times a year because she knew they’d write back. I grew up with a love of letter writing. I had penpals since I was 12 years old. Then I went into slams which was more writing. I’ve always loved sending cards and receiving them. Mom and Greg never wanted cards from me. They both thought it was stupid. So I obliged and never made them hardly any. It dawned on me one day that I have no cards from my Mom. Others whose mother died might have a shoebox or even bigger box just filled with cards they could look through telling how much their mother loved them. They could look at them over and over again. Instead I have memories of her telling me she loved me (up until the last 5 years or so) often and showing me in countless ways. My mom wasn’t a demonstrative person. She grew up in a time when you didn’t get hugs and were never told you were loved. Ever since I was a baby, she told me many times daily that she loved me and I always got hugs and kisses. She used to call me “Kissy” because I liked kisses so much. My dad never told me he loved me and didn’t give hugs or kisses. So I got all of my affection from Mom. When I was in high school, she’d send me off to school with a kiss on the lips and “Have a good day!”. Nobody really understood how close I was to my mom because I don’t know anyone else who had as close a relationship with their own mother. There was a girl in high school who was older than me by a 2 years. We were in the same grade but she’d been held back. So she was 18 and her mother had left her. Instead of kicking her out when she turned 18, the mother moved but must’ve paid the rent because she had a house to herself. Anyway, we rode the bus together and she came to the door to get me so we could walk several blocks ahead because we were one of the last stops and if we waited to get on, we wouldn’t get a seat on the bus and would have to stand the whole way (5 miles). She really resented my close bond with my mom and was downright jealous. She saw Mom kiss me on the lips and the next day there were rumors swirling all around school that I was a lesbian. It was a vicious thing to do to take something so innocent and loving and turn it into a lie. As with most rumors, there’s nothing you can do about them, people will either believe them or they won’t. But I was really hurt and even though I knew where her intentions came from, it didn’t make it any easier to deal with. I was so upset and didn’t want to tell my mom for fear that it would make her not want to kiss me goodbye every morning. But I did tell her because there wasn’t anything that I didn’t share with her. We got through that and our bond was even stronger. Only death can separate us from one other.


Yesterday I made a bunch of Valentines on the computer. It made me think of all this. I never know if others like getting cards but I try to acknowledge others and send them. I know I like getting them and typically only 2 or 3 send me any for the various holidays. I do cherish them. It makes me wonder how important it is to have tangible items that belonged to a dead person. My mom doesn’t have many possessions. She moved dozens of times throughout her life and didn’t keep things from her childhood or even early adulthood. She would give things away when she moved so she wouldn’t have to pay to transport them. Then in the last 10 years (5 years or so before the Alzheimers was diagnosed), she started throwing things out. She didn’t have a lot to begin with but any old cards or letters, she would read one last time and then put in the garbage. I used to argue with her about this but she felt so strongly about getting rid of the stuff, that I gave in and didn’t question it after that. She was always trying to get me to get rid of some of my stuff. The more she would egg me on, the harder I would hold onto things. She did get me to part with a lot when we moved from my childhood home in Eau Claire to Sussex, WI. 


I feel blessed to have had every single kiss, hug and declaration of love from my mom. I know not everyone is so lucky. I think the secret is to love like there’s no tomorrow. Which is what we always did. We never knew how much time we’d have together but we knew it wouldn’t be enough. Happy Valentine’s Day dear friends!! 🙂 Hold onto your loved ones with all your might!

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Today hubby is working a double shift. My first instinct was that I’ll have no excuse not to blog when I’m home alone for that many hours. Unfortunately, my will to write has disappeared. Since Mom died, I feel lost. I can’t find my voice to write. It’s not because I don’t have anything to write. It just doesn’t feel good like it used to. Sadly, nothing feels good like it used to. I have moments of happiness but I haven’t felt genuinely happy since she passed away. Not for a lack of trying. It feels like I’m going through the motions of being happy but inside I’m hollow. I guess that’s what true grieving is. I don’t think I’ve had the honor or privilege before. Not to this degree anyway. I spent my days as a child on the verge of tears all the time. I was an overly sensitive child with copious amounts of empathy for others. I also had a natural hate of injustice. As a child, the world had too much wrong with it for my taste. It was too unfair to myself and others. It was too hard and cruel. It left me feeling bad about myself and perpetually with hurt feelings. Aside from being bullied excessivey, I felt left out and forgotten. Or more accurately, uwanted/cast aside.

As it took me decades to realize, my mother wasn’t perfect. I’m sure she didn’t know how to handle a daughter that cried so often. Hell, even though I’ve been one, I don’t think I’d know how to handle one. She wasn’t always sensitive to me and my touchiness. Yet she made me feel like she was always on my side. That no matter what, I could talk to her and share my feelings. That she’d be with me to the ends of the earth and never leave me. < SOB> I could never stand up for myself which made me feel doubly persecuted. If someone attacked me (physically or verbally), I couldn’t fight back. I hated violence and didn’t want to hurt anyone. I felt weak and like there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t fathom someone beating another person up for no reason. I knew I hadn’t done anything to this bully that beat me up every day after grade school but I couldn’t bring myself to fight back. Maybe even then I didn’t feel worthy. Most likely I didn’t know that it was a thing that people picked on others. I didn’t know anyone else who got picked on and bullied except me.

By the time I was 25 and I started working in a factory environment (large city post office), I learned to stand up for myself and not take crap from anybody. It makes me proud that I learned this as I would hate to be in my 50’s and still not advocate for myself. Now I do it for my husband, too. Anyway, as I’ve gotten older, I cry less. I felt almost like I’d outgrown it. I would cry when watching sappy movies, pet rescue commercials or occasionally out of frustration or a fight with my mate. It could be weeks or months between shedding a tear. Then I become an orphan and the waterworks get turned on again. I don’t cry every day now but all I have to do is think too hard, listen to certain song lyrics or really think of what I’ve lost and the tears flow that wrack my whole body. It’s been 2 1/2 mos. since she died. It’s worse now than it was the first 2 months. I don’t see an end in sight. I don’t see me ever NOT missing her. She was my best friend util Alzheimer’s stole her brain. Just having her presence near me was an underlying calming influence to me. Of course, things she did were upsetting while she had Alzheimers but overall, I loved every minute of having her with me. Mom being gone is a loneliness the likes of which I’ve never known. If I didn’t have my husband, all I could think about was joining her.

At first I was going to clear out all her clothes and belongings and try to get on with life. I couldn’t do it. I decided to wait. I can always do it later. I don’t want to act like she was never here. That she didn’t live here as much as I did and wasn’t a huge part of my life. I don’t want to forget her. Not that I ever could. I have been trying to live my life but feel like I’m not making any headway. I’m going through the motions of living like getting up every day and getting dressed every day. I don’t sleep well at all. I have some nights I don’t sleep at all. I have always got up when Greg gets up to go to work (at 7 am). Since the New Year and the cold, wintry, gloomy weather, I’ve been staying in bed for an hour or two after he leaves. It doesn’t matter if I get up with him or not, almost every day I’m sleepy. So sleepy that if I sit down, I will fall asleep sitting up with my phone in my hand. I have tried planning things for us to do on the weekends but it’s hard to get excited about things and then it feels like a letdown afterwards. I have 2 “plans” for what I want to do with my life in the future but am not going to share them until much further down the line. I have so much else to take care of before any of my dreams become a reality.

I’ll be writing a blog post soon on what’s been happening since last month. Much has happened, yet much is the same. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my feelings as I navigate this maze of grief. Without a map, I will get lost but I know there’s a way through it, if I can only find it.

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I’ve never dealt well with death. The same could be said of a lot of people. The only people who handle death well are the dead. I try to avoid thinking about it entirely but due to the nature of life, it does show up sooner or later. On Monday night, we received a phone call that my mom’s best friend had passed away at age 93. I called her son back on Tuesday afternoon and missed him since he was at the funeral home making arrangements. I did speak to her grandson or tried to with a huge lump in my throat. All I could think of was all the letters she’d written my mom that I’d read. She mentioned her grandsons frequently and how fond she was of them. How good they were to her and how they even lived with her for a time. I start to get emotional without a real reason. Just knowing how much they would miss her made me start to fall apart. I got off the phone as fast as I could before he had to wonder what kind of basket case I was. My mother had been friends with Bea for almost 70 years. They had met in their 20’s and the friendship had survived moves to many states, marriages, children and lasted into their 90’s. They started out as coworkers and then roommates. They had many shared experiences that got them laughing whenever they spoke on the phone or in person. They always sent each other birthday and Christmas cards, no matter what. They always wrote letters telling what was going on in their lives. They shared recipes, lots of laughter and even comics that Bea used to cut out of the paper and send with her letters. My mom is not an emotional person. She used to be a bit more but as she’s aged she’s lost the ability to wallow in sorrow. Later that day, Bea’s son Gary called back and we talked for 37 minutes before I had to get off or I’d start crying. I can’t get over what an impact one person had on both our lives. I had long wondered who would go first. If I’d be calling Bea to tell her that my mom had passed away. The reason I handled the phone calls for my mom is that even with 2 hearing aids, her hearing is so bad she can’t hear well enough to carry on a phone conversation.

 
The only time I saw my dad cry was at his mother’s funeral. I was 9 and my grandma was 93. She had lived her last few years in a nursing home but before that had lived with us. My dad was very close to his mother since he was an only child. Seeing him just sobbing during the hymn Rock of Ages shook me to my core. It was my first funeral and my first time being around any display of grief. My mother’s mother had died when I was 5 but I didn’t go to the funeral. Maybe if I’d had more experience with death it wouldn’t be so uncomfortable for me.
 
I have since been exposed to several more occasions of death but it hasn’t gotten any easier. My dad died when I was 27 and I remember wondering if it hurts worse to lose a parent when you’re young or old. When you’re young (like 27 versus 50), you’re mourning the future you lost, what you could’ve had with them. When you’re older and lose a parent, you’ve had longer to bond with them and be close with them. Therefore, you’d miss them more. I don’t know which theory is true because the only thing I’ve figured out is it hurts either way. It hurts more the closer you are with the person. If you’re in daily contact with someone, there’s a huge void left when they’re gone.
 
I’ve noticed there are basically 2 ways people handle death. Yes, I do make over-simplifications. There are the people who think no one has ever grieved like they have. Due to my husband coming from a large Catholic family, there are way too many weddings and funerals to attend. My husband was taught to go and show his respects. We’ve been together for almost 28 years so as time marches on, more of the aunts and uncles have passed away. Some I’ve barely known, others I’ve known somewhat or quite well. About 10 years ago was the first one that really hit me. It was his Aunt Rosie. She was my hubby’s double aunt. She was his mother’s sister and married to his dad’s brother. That saying that you never forget how someone makes you feel is so true. I have always felt self conscious/ ill at ease around crowds at family gatherings. Not knowing who to talk to or what to say. Rosie always made a point of coming up to me and talking to me. She would ask about my mom and we’d talk about how she liked to gamble too. We’d also talk about travel and trips. It didn’t matter what we talked about, I felt like she liked me and I genuinely liked her. She made me forget all the other people around us and feel like it wasn’t a waste that I showed up at the family function. I truly grieved for her and shed tears at her funeral service.
 
There have been other funerals I’ve attended that had a mass hysteria quality to them. Even if I wasn’t one bit sad, seeing everyone crying to the point of dry heaving starts to make me whimper and feel like sticking a knife in my gut. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. At a different funeral, 2 people threw themselves on the casket. They don’t even do that in the movies!! This service was so upsetting to me on so many levels. I’m not telling people how to grieve but I have a hard time understanding how people can turn on and off their emotions like that. One minute they are hysterical, the next they are eating lunch and laughing in the church basement. I guess this is normal. I’ve often said I don’t believe in funerals. Of course, I believe they exist, just that they are unnecessary. I believe in telling people how you feel about them while they are alive. I believe in comforting people who have lost loved ones but the big pomp and circumstance is not for me. I wouldn’t even want a service, nor a cemetery plot. Giving the dead license to take up real estate forever is just crazy.
 
I wished there was a bravery pill that would give you strength when you need it. When grief overtakes you and you want to appear strong, you’d take it. Many don’t need this since they are able to give a eulogy for someone they loved. I know I could write one but there’s no way I could get through reading it. I would break down so many times until I just folded up completely. I’ve never felt capable of crying in front of other people. It is way too vulnerable of a thing for me. I try to hold it in and wipe away tears but I don’t let it all out in front of others. It is a howling pain that I couldn’t inflict on another person’s ears.
 
Some people seem so matter of fact when someone passes away. They understand it’s a phase of life and have made peace with it almost instantly when it happens. This is probably the “right” way to be. At one of the family funerals a few years ago, I wasn’t exactly sad except for seeing so many others in pain. Then I looked up ahead of us a couple rows and saw my husband’s Aunt Anne. She is my favorite relative I gained by marriage. She is everything good in the world. Calling her a Saint is really not doing her justice. She is so much more than that. She’s got a great sense of humor, in addition to being a caregiver, mother, grandmother, gardener, cook, etc. She also has more faith than anyone I’ve ever met. She practices what she believes and ministers to prisoners and anyone in need. She is generous and always ready with a hug. She loves everybody and reminds me of Emma Snyder from As The World Turns. She makes everyone feel welcome and loved. All I had to do was think about how glad I was that it wasn’t her funeral we were at and I started crying. It was ridiculous. I talked to hubby later and he said he had been thinking the same thing. When she goes, even though we know she’ll be in Heaven for sure, we will both be a mess.
 
Maybe the only people ever truly comfortable with death are morticians and medical examiners. They have to see it and be around it enough that they become almost immune to it. Also seeing so many deceased strangers is quite different from a deceased loved one.
 
3 years ago my best friend passed away. It was unexpected but aside from missing her, I had no regrets. I had spoken to her a few days before when she was in the hospital and I’d told her I loved her. I have always done that with people. I sign my letters “Love” if that’s how I feel. I’m sure it puts some people off. They don’t put love unless it’s to their mate. I think there are many types of love and one is friendship. Love and friendship don’t always last but when it does, we have to consider ourselves blessed.
 
In closing, I want to include a few of my favorite quotes about death:
Death is a distant rumor to the young.–Andrew A. Rooney
Death does not wait to see if things are done or not done.–Kularnava
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.–Norman Cousins
 
Have you had a lot of experience with death? Do you feel you handled it well under the circumstances? I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this topic.
 

 

 

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