As the holidays approach, I'm thinking a lot about this time last year. Almost nine months out from losing my mother, here is what I have learned so far:
1) Grief is nebulous. It comes and goes at its own speed and in its own time
2) The more demonstrative others are about their grief, the more reserved I am about my own
3) Just because one does not show grief does not mean one doesn't feel it
4) It's okay to be happy
5) Feeling relief and freedom is normal
6) Family dynamics change completely when a loved one dies
7) Regret for all that was - and was not - lingers
8) Crying about loss is easier with those who don't expect it
9) Relationships shift
10) Rituals are important
On Thanksgiving last year, I knew my mother was dying. Working in a hospital, one comes to know the language that physicians use when there is nothing more to be done.
'Now we are going to work on managing the condition.'
'Perhaps we should start looking at alternative treatment.'
While everyone else was holding onto hope, certain that with the right amount of exercise and monitoring, things would be okay, I knew that we were nearing the end of our journey.
That was the loneliest time.
B-man and I spent Thanksgiving night in the Emergency Department with Mom and Dad. Mom couldn't breathe, so we went to have her lungs drained, assuming they were again holding fluid.
But there was no fluid to drain that night, just lungs, and a heart, that were failing.
The sadness of that day - and the moment when I heard the ER physician say, 'we're just managing the condition now' - clouds the path to Thanksgiving this year.
11) Learning more about grief does not diminish its impact.
Picture from worldphoto360.com