The Tides of Emotions
It's been a while since I've written a buzz. I feel like I've been a bit frozen in time lately. It's taken a lot of self-reflection to understand why it is I've felt this way. Before you read on, please let me warn you this blog will contain the topic of death and for those of you that are not comfortable with this particular topic, I thought I would give you the chance to duck now before reading on.
It's been a year and 7 months since my mom passed away. There are days it seems as though it's been longer but most of the time her loss seems like minutes ago. I can still hear her voice and I still go to pick up the phone to share exciting news with her, only to feel a stab in the gut as a reminder she is no longer here.
After mom passed I felt her loss, I felt sad and I also felt a bit of relief knowing she didn't have to suffer long. I think I went into shock for some time after we lost our mom. When the shock wore off, I went into another phase... I'm not even sure I can explain it but looking back it felt like a bit of denial. I knew she was gone but I was denying myself from feeling the fear of losing her prior to her death, and LOSING her after she passed on. When denial left, I was angry, very angry.
I didn't realize at the time that my anger was probably grief related. I blamed it on everything except grief. I found myself striking out at others for reasons I didn't truly understand. I allowed myself to not just feel anger but express it in unhealthy ways. Was I aware at the time that I was directing my anger at others possibly in unjustifiable ways, no! Did I feel justified at the time, yes!
I have to admit, there were two distinct incidents that happened more than once that caused me to lash out. I was told by more than one person that I needed to move on. It annoyed a select few that I missed my mom and I was verbal about my feelings of loss. I thought by being verbal about her loss it would help me to heal. That wasn't the case considering there were a few who treated me like I was a whiney kid who couldn't get over not getting an extra scoop of ice cream. I not only felt invalidated but I felt as though it invalidated my mom's life. Please note, I used the term, "felt."
I would tell my siblings more than once that I could not watch our mom die when that time came. Well, we don't always get to pick and choose when it comes to loss. I was present and one thing I had a very hard time dealing with after she passed was the fact that I watched her die. Mom was in a deep coma her last day here on earth. Mom was blue and looked as though she was gone before she actually took her last breath. She struggled to breathe and she took a breath about every 20-30 seconds, that is until I told her my brother was on his way and would be there very soon. As soon as I told mom this, she began to breathe rapidly as if she was waiting for him to arrive. My brother walked through the door about 8 minutes or less after I told her he was on his way. He spoke to her privately, we all did. They say even if a person is comatose, the hearing is the last thing to go and I believe it after seeing her struggle to breath fast until my brother arrived. Within 5-10 minutes after he arrived my mom passed away. For whatever reasons, I had been unable to let go of that picture in my mind until the last few days. Watching mom die felt like a horror movie in my mind replaying over and over.
Someone just shared with me this past week or so that dying with dignity doesn't have anything to do with the dying process per se but more about living a life full of purpose and with love. A person has no regrets at the end of their life, they take that love with them and die with dignity. I believe it may have been Cyndi wilkins who touched on this. This resonated with me and gave me a new sense of calm deep within because my mothers life was one that touched so many. Mom was a school bus driver for 30 years and she was very loved by the kids, she took in others if they were having a difficult time and we were fairly poor but never poor in heart. Mom lived by example, not by words. I'm able to view her last day much differently now. The idea that she waited for my brother makes me wonder if people do choose when they are ready to leave this world? The big mystery that we will never know for sure but it gives me comfort in my heart to think that's possible.
As for my anger, I had to learn to forgive a few people who were annoyed by my grieving. I guess they felt there was a time frame and at some point I should have just 'let it go and go on with my life.' Well, I did go on with my life but stagnated in some ways. As the old cliche goes, "There is no time limit on grief," and that's 100% true. It differs for each and everyone of us. We need to respect and nurture those we care about who are grieving. I also reminded myself that we were brought up to accept differences in others. I had a kodak moment one day and realized that my anger was harming me and no one except me.
I can look at mom's photos now without feeling deep pain. Do I still have days that I break down crying, hell yes! But, I feel more balanced and I think I can finally say, I'm able to move on and find peace in the idea that my mom will always live on in my heart, through my children and I feel her presence at times.
I feel fortunate that I grew up in a home filled with love and I can only hope my own children feel the same.
The video below is dedicated to my friend Tausif Mundrawala who lost his beautiful mother and is still missing her so much. Tausif, I posted this to my mom's facebook wall about 6 months before she passed because she didn't want to talk about her cancer or dying. I think I had a harder time with that than she ever did. I feared she was scared and not sharing her deepest concerns with us. In the end, I knew my mom was at peace with her life. Oddly, as much as I thought I couldn't be there 'when the lights go out," I was and I think that was her plan :))
I will always miss her but my heart has room for a lot of love on this journey we call life.