On Tuesday, August 13, 2019 I lost my mom.
Now the dysfunctionally dark humorous side of my brain instantly went “Think back – where was the last place you left her…”
OK, dark humor has been my primary method of coping with this huge loss, and it is huge.
My mother was a ginormous pain in my ass. She was also my closest confidante. She knew me better than anyone, as mothers are wont to do – even when we think they don’t understand us at all. Towards the end of her life, she was not an easy woman to love. We now know that the cancer that ravaged her body also severely impacted her mental and emotional state. She became erratic, unpredictable, and at times downright mean. But underneath it all was a woman who was keenly aware of how much of herself she was losing, and who was scared.
Dealing with her physical departure is something that anyone who sees me regularly will tell you I handled as well as anyone could, and am still handling well. And they are right…to an extent.
The truth of the matter is that if you don’t live or work with me, you probably haven’t seen me since her funeral. You probably haven’t heard from me either. Text messages go unanswered, as do voicemails. Actually, someone told me today my voicemail box is full. And I don’t particularly care.
I’m trying my best to figure out my new “normal” – whatever the hell that is. There is no manual for grieving or for how to rebuild your life when it’s undergone such a drastic change. It’s something each person has to do for themselves.
I’ve received so much advice that I am simultaneously appreciative of and tired of. I know everyone has been incredibly well intentioned, and speaks from their own experience – which is part of their lifelong grieving processes – but I’m just tired.
My tired has become sarcasm. I answer “How are you?” with “Other than a dead mother I’m just dandy!” When one person asked me “Are you coping well?” my uninhibited answer was “Absolutely! It’s like a party every day!” People laugh it off, and I laugh with them, and then walk away. This is so not like my normal self, but I’ve grown exhausted from the normal platitudes and my filter seems completely gone.
When you add to that a series of traumas that occurred within my family surrounding her illness, death, the funeral, and all that ensued, I’ve taken a very non-me approach. I’ve closed my circle. Literally, other than people who live in my house and people who see me at work, I’m currently not having contact with others. I’m not sure this is the best approach, but I know it’s the best one for me right now.
It doesn’t mean I don’t still love the world. It doesn’t mean I won’t return to my old ways at some point. It just means right now I need to heal in my way, in my time. I can’t even tell you what that means. I know so far it’s meant a lot of cleaning and purging of my house, dusting off my recipe books and regengaging with my cooking, and as of today, picking my pen back up to write.
This is a time for me to mourn what I’ve lost, while also finding myself in a new way. The loss of someone like a parent is traumatic. When it is coupled with other personal challenges, even more so. Then add to that a propensity to struggle with anxiety and depression and you’ve got an awesome recipe for self-destruction. Thankfully I don’t seem to be self-harm minded, but I can intellectually understand how people in my situation can go there.
To those who have been reaching out and found me unresponsive, I thank you. I love and appreciate you. Your words mean the world, I’m simply not capable of being the “usual” me right now, but it doesn’t mean I’m not beyond grateful to each and every loving gesture sent my way.
To others going through trauma, I would offer this advice – if you are going through a loss, go through it. In your way. Find close people you can check in with, even if it’s just to say “I’m not ok today” and nothing more. If you are someone who does better with lots of interaction, do that. Find ways to heal that work for you.
To people supporting people like me, offer supports the best way you can, but most of all, be understanding if the person you know is just different at this time.
To my mother – given that I know you are all knowing at this point – I thank you for making me the woman I am today. I miss you. I love you.