There is no measure of time that it will take for a person to overcome the grief of losing someone who is directly related to them; this I have learned first hand.
It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away. Four long months since I saw her face, heard her laugh, teased her with something totally inappropriate or since she commented on something she saw on one of her favourite TV shows. This seems like forever ago, yet there is a conflicting passage of time that makes it seem like yesterday that she was at full capacity and we were shopping together, having Wednesday lunches together or that I was staying at her house most nights of the week so we could watch Masterchef together where I would live tweet her hilarious commentary.
It seems like not that long ago that I was doubled over in pain, food poisoned or suffering a severe case of gastro where she was taking care of me, loaning me money to afford a “real” (non medicare) doctor at the end of my pay cycle and shuttling me to and fro and making me food until I felt better. The normal comforts of having a mother that loves you unconditionally.
It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away and all I know is that the pain of that loss has hit me with a weight that I can’t quite aptly convey to anyone else that’s in my life. No one can ever understand the love between my Mum and I because they were not part of it. I regularly dream of her and sometimes they end in nightmares and other times I wake up feeling thankful that I’ve had the chance to see her and that she hasn’t faded from my memory. I am thankful that I haven’t yet forgotten how she smelled or how it felt to be comforted by her.
Sometimes I feel that when I talk about her, people become glazed over because they kind of expect that because it’s almost been 4 months, I should be ‘almost’ over it — or that my pain should have dulled at least.
The truth is that I don’t think I will ever feel less pain about my Mum’s passing. The guilt of what I ‘could’ have or ‘should’ have said or done will never pass (despite the fact that I did a lot and I know she would never accuse me of any different). Four months may have almost passed by quickly, but the immediacy of her passing required me to be level-headed, emotion-free and diligent in planning a funeral, taking care of bits and pieces, letting everyone know, and allying everyone else’s sadness by pretending I was totally okay with the new reality of a life, motherless.
Because of the fastness in which my Mum passed, I can see how shell-shocked we all were in hindsight — perhaps that was attributed to all the denial we faced about her condition. Nevertheless, the three weeks of work that I took off didn’t really give me the time I needed. Again, in hindsight, it might have been smart to go back to work immediately and rather take the time when I began to feel the weight of losing her — like now.
I try to recall the good memories; but they even make me sad with the reality that we will never have the chance to create anymore.
Along with the other monsters in my head, intruding upon the normal functionality of a brain, I go to sleep with this sadness every single night and wake up feeling the weight of the loss as I try to turn the music up to drown it all out as I get ready for the day. When I get in the car and in those moments that I am alone, I find myself either having to listen audio books, or else endure the tears and the stupid guilt.
As a result the silly thoughts begin and I have to try to bargain with myself with a routine or compulsion just to ease it off; like a superstition. It starts with one thing and it domino effects in to a thousand things and before I know it, I can barely get out of bed, wracked with grief, depression, intrusive thoughts and feelings that not another person will ever be able to ease save for the presence of my Mum who was really the only person I trusted to tell me the truth without getting angry or frustrated with me — even if it was sometimes cutting and blunt.
It isn’t that I don’t feel like I can’t talk to people about it, my family and my friends have been so good — but I find it hard to talk about it without being aware of their discomfort or lack of words that will make me feel better. Nothing makes it better and I don’t think it ever will.
Just this week I have felt off — unsure if it is just stress of grief or genuine sickness, I took myself off to the doctors three times and each time a different outcome ensued. Yesterday I had a blood test and had to wait for the results. After hours my doctor called me back and I missed the call by around 4 minutes so she left a muffled voice message that I couldn’t distinguish and something about coming back but also the word ‘mild’ was heard somewhere — regardless of the logic that bad news wouldn’t have been allowed to be left in a voice mail, I went in to melt down. Because it was after hours, I couldn’t call back without it going to an answering message service and I lost my shit for a good hour.
I suppose the point of this is to just acknowledge the fact that there truly is no allotted time that one must adhere to when it comes to grief and its okay to lose your friggin’ marbles for as long as it takes to feel better again.
In fact, when the funeral and the flowers and the well wishes and the shock dissipates, the gravity of the loss hits hard. As funny as it is, I feel like this quote is apt and it’s from Michael Scott so I know my Mum would approve:
..I mean, if we were talking about trying to put it in to words and all.
The other things I’ve learned about grief and loss is that people do say some stupid shit to you. The nurse taking care of my Mum immediately after her passing told me this as she comforted me and I knew it was true in the moment but I didn’t know just how true until someone tried to tell me to stop talking about my Mum because I was torturing myself.
I’ve learned that talking does help sometimes but in my case, writing is a release too and so if you are reading this wondering why I’ve done a violent overshare of emotions, then I will tell you it is because it is good for me and at this point in time, I am taking care of myself because unfortunately despite my age, my mother isn’t here to help me do that anymore.
Also, grief sometimes doesn’t show up immediately. For me, I didn’t feel it; didn’t get it. I didn’t cry after leaving her that night. I didn’t cry at her funeral, really. I was able to smile and laugh and joke and continually tell everybody how chill I was about my Mum dying. And for a little while, I truly believed my own hype.
Until of course, the grief did hit…
Moving on from the loss of someone is actually impossible, but adjusting your life to a lifetime without an important person in it, is possible with time. The pain won’t ever pass, I don’t think. And there are days that I’m sure in 10 years time that I will take to just cry and remember her, but I am hoping that what I am going through currently will pass in its due course.
But right now, I miss my Mum so much that it is painful to think about her and thinking about her makes it literally hard for me to breathe.
(She is probably wishing she could give me “a clip ’round the earhole” as I write this).
So yeah, that’s where I am at. Now I’m off to avoid life by nose diving in to yet another book.