They say grief comes in waves, and it's absolutely true. Grief can be overwhelming, all consuming and exhausting. As I go through this process of adjusting to life without my Mom, grief has really surprised me in many ways. I thought I would share my journey so far.
The sheer panic that I felt in the days after my mother passed was very surprising to me. This wasn't "oh, I'm sad" it was panic, absolutely panic about never being able to see my Mom again. I would have to switch my mind as fast as possible because I didn't think I could deal with that emotion. It would wash over me, and it felt crippling. I felt like I couldn't breath. I knew I couldn't stay in that state of mind, or it would take over. The trauma of the hospital is something I'm still not over. Over the course of a few days, my Mother completely changed. Her pallor changed, her body changed and I will never forget how her hands felt when I held them. The machines were terrifying but her body shutting down was also physical and I could see those changes. I still get flashbacks of being in the hospital room. I never thought I could stay in the room when they shut the machines off, but I did. I'm proud that I did, and in that moment I wasn't scared. I'm not a stronger person because I did that, I just felt that I needed to do it and I did.
In the first couple of weeks, I felt like my Mom had to occupy my mind every single minute of the day. If I was doing something and remembered, I felt guilty that she wasn't on my mind. If I had a decent day, it was "bad." I've been coming to terms with this and I've gotten better, but that guilt was not something that I expected.
Holidays, birthdays and the days leading up to them are the worst for me. I start to get anxiety about how I will feel on those days and ultimately I feel worst on the days before. Having a young child helps because I "celebrate" for him. Otherwise, I would probably skip them and that's probably not the best. This is going to be a year of "firsts" without her and it's hard. I also didn't realize how each Monday would represent a new week that my Mom is gone. It's rough, but as I get through each one I'm reminded that I did it. I got through it.
Yes, I've also felt angry and sad. Lonely was another one that surprised me. I could be in a room full of people but still feel lonely. I've also thought of the wonderful memories but this is a process. I have no idea how long it will take, or how hard it will really be. I will say, that I'm surprised by how I'm doing. I'm doing okay, alot better than I thought I would. I'm keeping myself busy, I'm giving myself grace and I'm letting myself go through this. When I feel like I'm going down a slippery slop, I reel myself back in. I'm appreciative of those in my life. It really helps to have people you can lean on. I'm a person who likes organization, and planning. It makes me feel in control, and I've been using it to my advantage. I feel like grief should have no judgments, every one is different. At the same time, I know it's something that I have to work through and not let it get the best of me. I have to take care of my family, and that keeps me going.