Good Grief, I’m Exhausted

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…it’s been another promise that I’ve not kept. I’m also not Catholic. Not even diet Catholic.

In my previous post I had committed to sharing a post a week as I journey through processing grief. Which I have not done. It’s been approximately 3 months since I’ve posted any update on my journey through processing this grief. In retrospect I wasn’t ready to process the loss of my Mom. I’ve just needed to sit in my anger and melancholia, ping-ponging back and forth in an internal storm that has been raging it’s way through my head and heart.

At this moment I’m in Northern Virginia, not more than 5 miles from the hospital that my Mom died at, at my Auntie’s house. My Mom’s ashes are here, they’ve been here since she was cremated, they’ve sat here at my Auntie’s house for almost 5 months. Many of my Mom’s belongings are here, the rest are in a storage unit not more than 2 miles from my house in Southeastern Virginia. I’ve become the administrator of my Mom’s estate. I’ve been fumbling through the steps needed to open her estate and how to handle her affairs.

Today I hastily sorted through her suitcases full of clothes and separated what I needed to keep, to donate to a shelter, and to send to my brothers, or her grandchildren and friends. Today I paused and shoved one of her favorite shirts into my face, breathing her in and wrapping myself in a memory of her hug, I could almost feel her hair falling over me as she pulled me in and squeezed me tightly. I’d slowly stopped dreaming about her. I’ve avoided pictures of her, memories of her, I’ve pushed the sound of her laugh and her voice to the back corridors of my mind. I’ve ignored the nagging sensation that something is missing, the sternum crushing pain that comes when I wake in the middle of the night momentarily forgetting she’s “gone” and I can’t call her. I can’t send her silly Facebook messenger videos of the baby laughing or playing with her toes. I can’t vent my frustrations of being in a relationship with a man I love to argue with, I can’t listen to her advice on how this is an opportunity to experience it all in this one lifetime, I can’t make plans to spend her birthday with her. These are tough truths to swallow. I feel her nowhere and every where all at once. It’s confusing. It’s maddening.

Needless to say this has been the longest winter of my life. During this time I’ve asked for “signs”. I’ve waiting, patiently. I’ve prayed. I’ve talked to her spirit. I’ve read her journals. I’ve pretended she’s sitting next to me, and maybe she has been. I’ve plotted and planned and decided that I need to set some long-term goals for this grief journey. I need this to be a good grief. I need to accept the reality of this loss. One of my long-term goals is to work through the pain that comes when I face the reality of this loss. Second, and not in this particular order, I need to find ways to continue the healing journey my Mom and I were on (when she passed). I’ll have to find ways I can continue to grow and heal in our mother-daughter relationship, without her being here. Another essential and difficult goal/task is to be able to place my emotions related to my Mom, our relationship, and her untimely death in the “right” place and not misplace those emotions in or on someone else. I’ve slowly been working on the reality of this loss, and what that means to my daily life. An example of this is how I am unable to call my Mom and simply have the mother-daughter daily check-ins we normally had. I have replaced those voids with writing to her; sometimes I write her letters, other times I glue a picture into my journal and tell her about the moment/picture, or I’ll write her poetry. Another example of adjusting to my life with the loss of my Mom is making a greater effort at recognizing my brother’s birthdays and life event celebrations, not to replace the mother role, but to step up and be more encouraging, motivating, and/or ask them what they might need (as our mom would’ve). As I set these goals and work on these tasks I begin to process through some of my pain and grief, a little at a time, growing through the hurt and trying to make sense of my world and life without my Mom. It’s been a good grief in these past few months, and although I’m exhausted, I’m noticing progress in my journey.

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