I’m still sliding down the slope. Some days I don’t even try to get a handhold of something, anything, with which to pull myself back up and into my life.
I started this blog with the intention of writing more, and regularly. My last post was over a week ago. That’s not very regular. Part of the problem is that I wanted this blog to chronicle mid-life—what’s important to me at this stage in life, what I enjoy doing, what challenges I face. And I pledged to write whatever was on my mind in the morning when I awoke. Many days now, and still, my thoughts are filled with my deceased parents in the morning, and I just don’t want to keep burdening you with that.
But the loss of parents is a part of many individuals’ mid-life, so I am going to write about where I stand today.
We visited our grandchildren in St. Louis twice this month. The first week from the 12th to the 20th, we went to celebrate their birthdays. The second week from the 29th to November 3, to help out with the children while our daughter-in-laws’ mother had emergency surgery and was in ICU with an initial uncertain diagnosis. She is doing fine now.
But what I’ve noticed with out of town trips this year is that I am fine, and even happy, while I am away, but when I return the grief hits me like a lead blanket. It pulls me down.
One day, in the week between the two trips, I felt like I had burst through the gray cloud of grief that hovers above me, never too far away. I took that as a good sign.
I am afraid of heading into the next three months, with the holidays and the anniversaries of events. The last dinner we had with my parents was last year at Thanksgiving. Mom was diagnosed with cancer on December 2. Dad went to the ER on December 4. We moved Dad to the nursing home and later, Mom to the assisted living apartment. Mom went to the hospital on Christmas day. Mom died on January 12th. We buried Mom and celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday on January 18th. Dad died on the 26th. So many significant dates in the next few months.
Does the day of the year carry a marker in our brains that makes anniversaries happy or difficult? Or is it that our planet is spinning back through a place in the universe where events occurred and energies still linger? That’s a little cosmic for me, I know. But the fact that we have circled the sun and returned to this space has not escaped me.
I’ll leave you with nine things I’ve learned about grief so far:
1. Initially, grief is violent, painful, and inescapable, hitting you like a tsunami. All you can do is cling to a rooted support hoping to surface when the waters pass.
2. Grief leaves a silence and emptiness behind after the initial wave passes through, giving you time to look around at the destruction but not the energy to deal with it.
3. Grief fills up your senses and leaves a taste in your mouth.
4. Grief is demanding of your attention, coming in waves.
5. Grief surprises you when you least expect it and causes spontaneous tears at a restaurant or an anxiety attack while visiting a hospital.
6. Grief has far-reaching effects making you view your mortality, question your purpose, and fear the next time it strikes in perhaps a bigger way.
7. Grief may be permanent. It changes your heart and leaves a hole in your life that you learn to live around.
8. I think, with time, grief can help you focus on what’s important here and now.
9. Grief is your friend. It never allows you to forget those you’ve loved and lost.