At the end of last month, after a long illness, my mother transitioned into her new life, leaving my Dad, my sister and me to find a new way forward. Like many people experiencing grief, I wonder if I’m doing it right. Is there something wrong with me? Did I not love my mother as much as my sister and father?
Why the odd questions? I’ll tell you. After her passing in the hospital, we completed the necessary paperwork and went to our separate homes. In my case, I went back to my hotel room. Due to COVID restrictions I am not allowed to visit with my family unless we meet in a public place. Anyhoo – Dad told me he’d gone to the bottom of their garden and had a good cry. My sister had done something similar at her house. Me? I couldn’t do it in a faceless hotel room. I knew I needed to keep myself together for the journey back to England the following day. It just didn’t seem like the right time or place to me. Maybe once I got home again…
And then again, maybe not. The last time I sobbed my heart out was after I dropped Cost Center 1 at University. I sat in her childhood bedroom and had a good old cry, the kind you do when you were little and fell over, hurting your knees. I felt better after that cry. I’d like to feel something like that now but so far nothing doing. I think the best description I have is I’m on autopilot. Her funeral was last Thursday. I motored through choosing flowers, coffin, writing obituaries, writing and practicing Mum’s Eulogy, delivering it on the day, talking at social distance to all who attended to pay respects. An endless list of things that needed my attention and focus.
Now that I’m back home in England, there is nothing left to organise or stay in ‘professional mode’ for. I’m numb and empty. I can’t sleep. In fact I looked back through my journal and found that sleep has eluded me for almost a third of a year. Sleep may have been MIA, but anxiety sure as heck hasn’t. I guess I’m so used to being on red alert for every text message, every email, every land-line call, every family conference call that I’ve forgotten how to switch it back to ‘normal’.
With nothing to focus on per se, my anxious attention zeroed in on my own body. The ‘What If’ gremlin has taken up roost on my shoulder. It watches everything my stressed out body does and asks –
‘What if that’s a sign of some deadly illness?‘
What if you go the same way as your mother?’
Look how healthy she was all her life and then POW! A year and a half later she’s gone!’
Argh! Shut up already!’
I phoned my family doctor and explained all of this. I half expected to be asked to call in for a checkup, but no. He kindly explained what happens when a person’s physical and mental health when they’ve experienced relentless stress, severe and prolonged sleep disturbance and bereavement. It’s a recipe for burn-out. He’s prescribed me some short-acting sleeping tablets (with very strict instructions), clean eating, no alcohol (bugger – there goes my Friday gin and tonic), meditation and plenty of fresh air. So here I am, writing this sad old post, grounded and trying to put myself back together again.
I know the pain of loss will diminish over time. The rawness, emptiness, floods of tears following a happy memory shared will resolve in their own good time.
Meanwhile, I’d like to thank each of my core followers for your kind words and virtual hugs. Just to know you took the time to send me little replies helped me, and continue to help me today and tomorrow. I’m looking forward to a time when I’m back to my usual chipper self.
Bless you all.