The first three weeks after my mother's death I existed as if in an alternative universe enveloped in fog. My brain was frozen and my emotions at the surface ready to plunge me into despair at the sounding of a note of music. The fissure at my very core was so deep that the very acts of getting out of bed, pouring a cup of coffee, turning on the computer for work or reading a document seemed an out of body experience.
It is a blessing for me that I have friends and coworkers who have walked this path before and joined the exclusive club that nobody wants to join - the club of individuals who have lost a parent. In particular the death of a mother wrenches the soul like no other loss - she who gave us life.
I've cried. I've tried to read books and articles regarding the grieving process. I've talked to others who have recently experienced the death of a parent. Yet, each of us deals with such a profound loss in a different way. There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. There is just grief - a feeling of unfathomable loss that permeates every molecule of one's being and threatens to tear asunder the very fabric of one's life.
My husband, friends and coworkers have provided support that I could never have anticipated. Death brings out the best and worst in people and I've been fortunate enough to have experienced mostly the extraordinary goodness and caring that humanity can offer. Alternatively, sometimes death brings out the frozen inability of a soul to react. But I will not judge. I cannot judge because I do not know what issues linger of the psyche of any individual that causes him or her to react in a certain way. I only know that I appreciate the outpouring of love, appreciation, condolences and amazing stories shared by people who were touched by my mother.
I am also grateful that my father is surrounded by family, friends, retired teachers, members of his community and church and fans of his news articles and radio program that will give him love, appreciation, support, a kind word, an offer of a ride to dinner or church, keep an eye on his house, share a drink or give him a hug when he needs it. What a testament to the contribution both of my parents have made to their communities!
So today I am able to uncurl myself from a fetal position, arise from my bed at the appropriate time, shower, dress, and log onto my work computer with the ability to concentrate and focus on emails, requests for guidance, and input on critical evaluations and strategies. Again, it is baby steps that I take with awareness that there will be times when I am frozen or cannot function. But it is progress!
As I had the good fortune to learn during my years of experience in Al Anon, I celebrate each step forward, appreciate even the smallest bit of progress, do not denigrate myself for being where I am at any given moment, and let go of any resentments. And yes, I've released my frustration with Mom for dying. I will most likely need to let go over and over; but, eventually I will let go and come to accept what is. Mama is here with me in spirit. I will continue to feel her presence in the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the appearance of a cardinal or blue jay outside my window, in the spring flowers, in the aroma of a soft rain, and in my sacred memories of her voice, touch, smell, shared experiences and exuberance for life.
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