My mom lost her battle to breast cancer on May 30th. It’s been a week since her funeral. The sadness comes in ebbs and flows. I’ve given up steeling myself for it and just let the emotions wash over me. My response to things are somewhat delayed, this from a person who has a response for everything right then and there. I catch myself staring off into space, this from a person who has always been in the moment. I seek out people who can truly empathize with what I’m going through, this from a notoriously private person. Yet I’m amazed daily not at how I’m reacting to grief but rather how others are reacting to my grief.
People want you to be back to your usual self. One person even said it was good to see my “spirit was back.” Going through the motions of life isn’t going “back” to anything. Responding to emails, paying your bills, texting, going out with friends are not indicators of back to regularly scheduled programming.
An imaginary reset button is pressed when you lose a loved one and no matter how much folks want to see you bounce back and be who they want you to be, that won’t happen–ever. Those who understand that your lenses are different from when they knew you last are in for the long haul. Those who don’t—oh well.
I actively seek out people who won’t recoil in fear when I speak of anger and resentment and my mom in the same sentence. I turn to those who won’t excommunicate me if I say I’m angry at God for taking her. After all, these are my emotions and I want to own them like my second skin. I want to say them out loud to help in my healing.
Being a mental health professional is a blessing and a curse in the same breath in times of personal crisis. A blessing because you can identify those emotions, the defense mechanisms you use, and how others will be prone to react to you. It is also a curse for these very same reasons. I just know who the village idiot with the dumb responses will be before they say it. I also know the one who will come with wise counsel to soothe over my hurts. And then there are the surprises that God always throws my way in the form of those I least expect.
I’ve lost a good friend, a pet, and now my mother. She was both the bane of my existence and the reason for my existence. There aren’t levels to loss or even the type of loss. But dare I say the loss of a mother brings you to your knees like no other. My husband believes it is the umbilical cord that is severed in the here and now. The absence of this person in whose womb you shared blood, nutrients, and a life force.
I have this thermometer stuck in my emotional and spiritual being. I’m constantly gauging my grief and my responses to daily living. It’s a funny thing, grief is. It promises to bring you to the lowest of lows but it doesn’t end there. I’m counting on that part. The new normal living as a new me.