Recently the question was asked: Why did you start blogging? At the time I provided a suitable answer which said absolutely nothing about why I started. I am a lawyer by degree you see, so evasive answers often spew forth reflexively.
I then reflected on the question myself. The honest to goodness answer is this: I needed an outlet. I had suffered a loss and found my head filled with thoughts and questions and a mess of emotions. I needed to sort it out to make sense of it all. Writing helped me do just that.
For 9 months I kept a private blog. This was my very first post. I can share it now. A full year later. It was too raw, too real to share at the time or for a long time after. It is still quite real, but not near as raw. I prefer to share whimsy. I do. But I didn't always. Isn't that generally the case: it takes perspective to enjoy all you have around you. It takes perspective to appreciate the beauty in the little things. Here is how I obtained a little bit of perspective.
One Month. October 5, 2009
|Mom, Dad and my duo - March 200|
Over the last month I’ve read quite a bit about the process of grieving. You can’t read more that a few pages without encountering a reference to the “Stages of Grief” or the “Grief Cycle”. At first this uniformity annoyed me. My grief is my own. It has enveloped me completely and I do not want to share it or have it compared to any others grief. It is my grief. My very own.
I can now, however, reflect (see stage 4 below) back on the past 30 days and honestly say that it has helped me a bit to compartmentalize my feelings — “oh good, i’ve moved on to stage 3.” This seems to help me cope or, at least see a light at the end of a tunnel. Knowing that I’ve moved from stage 1 to 2 to 3 means I will eventually make it to acceptance, right?!?
Here it is laid out, my compartmentalized-uniform grief:
1. DENIAL – Numbed disbelief. I just couldn’t believe it, though I saw it with my own eyes. I was keenly aware of her very last ragged breath. Then the absence thereof. . Yet, when I walked into the wake or viewing I was utterly shocked, SHOCKED, to see my mother lying in a casket. Dead. I spent the night in her bed but woke up the next morning and wondered why I was there instead of her.
Next up was unbelievable pain followed promptly by remorse over things I didn’t say, conversations we never had. Out of control. Chaos. My body couldn’t keep up with my mind. I wake up at night thinking about all that had to be done, all that we don’t know. It’s 2AM and all I can think about is “where is the silver punch bowl?” I can’t eat. I don’t want to sleep. I hold my kids. I hold them tighter. It hurts to let them go. Why didn’t I tell her she was a great mom. She so desperately wanted to hear that from me. I did tell her she was a good mom. It now seems so cruel that I withheld that higher praise.
2. ANGER – Oh, my poor husband. He bore the brunt of my anger. Ok, he bore probably all of it. Honestly, if he had chosen a different parking space on my first time back to church I think he’d have fared better. He didn’t. I’d like to think I didn’t dwell on this stage too much. At least that’s the way I’ll remember it.
3. BARGAINING – I’m not one to bargain. I know nothing will bring her back. Nothing can undo what’s been done. Well, I believe God is capable of resurrecting one from the dead, but I guess I didn’t expect a miracle of such proportions.
4. “DEPRESSION” / REFLECTION – Prior to this month, I don’t think I’ve ever been severely depressed. But, HELLO depression. I literally felt physical pain just getting out of bed some mornings. I would go to bed at 9pm and have a hard time getting up at 6:45am. I cried a lot. A LOT. It may have been a poor choice to watch Grey’s Anantomy — medical drama inevitably involving death. What was I thinking?! It sent me into a tailspin. Thank goodness for my good friends who fed me and my family during this time. I fear we would have lived on dog food alone if it were up to me.
A few weeks later the tears dried up and I was able to function with only 7 hours of sleep. This was not a process, but a dramatic change one day. I think, or did I just not notice it was getting easier with each passing day? Then, I started sitting and staring. Then I’d change rooms and sit. Sad reflection literally moved in and decided to stay a spell. But I was eating. Oh, was I eating.
I am just now comprehending the true magnitude of my loss. I prefer spending time alone to reflect or perchance, blog. I am still quite annoyed by trivial matters or petty concerns voiced by friends. Everything in life seems a little trivial right now. Why does my husband care about a new garage door opener? Doesn’t he realize we’ll still die one day?!?
5. ACCEPTANCE – I’d like to think I’m here. But it has been only 30 days and I think I still need some time to reflect on my loss. To own my loss. To accept it as just that: a loss. Hmmm, maybe I’m close.
Of course, this is just how my grief has played / is playing out. If anything I’ve learned, it is that not only does everyone grieve differently, but it is an entirely selfish process. It is my grief, and though it may follow a cycle similar to others’ grief, that does not degrade it simply because it’s predictable. It is still entirely my own. Selfish grief. After all, it is was my mother. I lost my mother. It is purely personal. A loss unlike no other.