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The Process of Grieving

Posted by bebowreinhard on April 26, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Grieving is probably the most human and the most difficult thing any of us do. With my mother’s recent death, I now have first-hand experience at a mature age what this process is like. My father died when I was 14 and I was devastated as only a 14-year-old could be. But this watching a parent age, and then desire to give up on life is about as helpless an experience as one could ever have.

Dreams lately have been about death. Last night was not about anyone I knew. It was the death of a young boy named Jamie—a tragic, senseless death that somehow involved a train and Clint Eastwood. There was a rally at the funeral for justice. But I don’t remember much more than that, except I awoke feeling drained.

Why dream about death when it feels like it permeates every waking hour? Well, that could be why, I guess. In order to come to terms with it we might tend to objectify it, pretend it’s happening to someone else.

I had to put out a thank you at work today for a donation they made to my mother’s homeless fund and of course that brought out a few responses. I wasn’t sure how else to say thanks except by email, since I never got a card or notification of the donation. I can only assume it was done. And try to explain to anyone you don’t really talk to much about how a mother’s death makes you feel is just about impossible.

You try to say things like, oh, it’s okay, she’s been failing for a while and then they’ll say, but still, it’s hard. And I’ll go yeah, of course.

And I think though I accept it, it still hasn’t really hit. Yeah, I’ve had a few tears, and I know life will change now, a lot. But I’ve always been pretty pragmatic about death and all and feel I have to apply it to my own life now.

For instance, I wrote an article once that was meant to help others when death causes them to languish, such as I’ve seen happen to a few people left behind. But now I’ll want to revisit that article (I think it’s a former blog here, too) and see if it really helps me or not. The gist of it was that all people die when it’s time. But what about people like my mother, who died because she wanted to? Did she commit a form of mental suicide?

If that’s the case, then I’m right to feel like I didn’t do enough to help her. But how I can help her with the aging process when I don’t know enough about it myself? Was she carrying burdens that were too hard for her? Did she have things she felt guilty about? In that case, did I ever try to ease her guilt? Did I ever once tell her that I was glad she felt me behind in Green Bay when she moved the rest of the family to Phoenix because otherwise I wouldn’t have the three great kids and two great granddaughters I have? Did she know I felt that way? Would that have helped?

I think these kinds of things that run through the heads of mourners are perfectly natural.

There’s also the fear of change. I have already changed my life, so I don’t have that fear. But my husband went through a terrible week’s illness where he couldn’t cope with anything to do with her death. He was close to her, but he wasn’t a sibling. Did he feel like he should be treated like one, and knew he wouldn’t be? He can’t tell me what’s going through his mind, because he doesn’t know. His mental repression comes out as physical illness.

When we cannot get in touch with the reasons we mourn, that can hurt us even more.

For me, right now, I just feel like there’s this coating on my skin, or just under my skin, something that doesn’t belong there, but is a part of me now. In time, they say, my mourning will ease.

Or is it just that we get used to that coating?


Categories: Social Issues

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