I was there at the end of August 2011 when my mother breathed her last. She’d been brilliant, an MD, but deteriorated mentally as well as physically, the way nobody wants to but too many will. My only siblings resided on the other side of the country, with their jobs/spouses/kids; I was the night nurse.
I dreamt of Mom after she was dead, and cried more when I realized it was just a dream. Or was her spirit really there, as in there there?
After my child, graduated grammar school in June 2016 — across the street from Mom’s house, where I too had gone to school, where we’d been living, with Mom, since dear daughter was born — we had to move out. All my bargaining for more time came down to nothing, since the executors were (overly-?) anxious to sell the house. And so I was moving furniture and boxes every day, to storage and the charity and to my husband’s and my house 5 miles and several neighborhoods away. It was traumatic and exhausting. I lost twenty pounds and cried and grieved my mother and the homestead every day and all over again.
Now I’m more able to handle some task involving Mom which I’ve set myself — like going through the pictures she left, or making a photo collage of her (as I’d long mentally promised). If I start feeling like it’s too much, I make a conscious decision to be gentle with myself, and put the project aside.
There was a post somewhere which compared grief to being pounded by ocean waves, unbearably at first, knocking us off our feet with no time in between to breathe, but over time more manageable, if sometimes unexpected still. I think if we are processing the grief, little by little we become stronger – imperceptably, we put on another layer of that psychic bark, which, like a tree, protects us. Two years on, I still feel overwhelmed by grief, but not as often.
I admire those able to stand up to pharmaceuticals; that is some strength there. If it’s spring and not storming where you are, I hope your garden gives you solace. Maybe there’s a friendly dog nearby, even one you simply visit at the home of someone you know (who might become new friends). One foot in front of the other, one minute/second/breath at a time, one (or 2, or 3… okay, however many) dog kiss(es) at a time. Because we experience oxytocin when we gaze into a dog’s eyes, and they into ours, or inhale it, and oxytocin rocks, and a paw on my lap and that urgent gaze as I sit sobbing does much to turn around a wretched wrenching heart, even if only for a few seconds at a time.