Lessons in Grief, Part 1

It’s been a while since I’ve written. 

My mother passed away March 6. 

Grief keeps its own schedule:

Not showing up when expected, like when I ordered the date to be carved into the headstone she shares with my grandparents.

Visiting at odd times, like when I tried to deal with a check written in her name.

But always at one o’clock on Saturdays, the time I used to call her every week.

I expected to cry more.  A lot more.  There are rogue waves of sadness and constant reminders of her.  And lately, the last time I saw her keeps flashing in my mind’s eye—free of the oxygen mask, her face looked vulnerable and her body looked small and leaving her like that to the ministrations of others felt like the ultimate abandonment, even though I knew in my heart that her spirit had already flown free.

Happy in her travels

She was ready to go.  She’d lost so much in the past few years, both in spirit and body.  So many of her friends and loved ones had passed away, she constantly mourned.  And as her body continued to weaken, she wished more and more to be liberated from its confines.  Her faith in Jesus Christ and her belief in the afterlife He promised made her yearn for the next phase, The Big Secret as Betty White called it. 

I think the fact that she’d lived the life she wanted, that she told me unequivocally that she had no regrets and she truly was ready to shirk that body and move on aids me in my grief.  I miss her, with all that entails, like watching a new super champ on Jeopardy and knowing I won’t hear her say, “You been watching this week?”  Or seeing new books in her favorite series or new episodes of shows she liked. Realizing I can’t tell her about my virtual travels online.  I sigh constantly lately.

Some favorites we shared

So, you’ll probably see a lot about my mother, affectionately known as The Mom, in the coming weeks, some specifically about grief and dealing with the aftermath of death.  Bear with me, it’s going to be a long journey.

The first thing I wanted to post about deals with notification.  Several times in the past few years, The Mom asked me to track down some of her friends, so I looked online and had to tell her that what I’d found were obituaries.  The sadness she felt was amplified by the fact that they’d been gone for months or even close to a year, and no one in their families let her know. 

It was upsetting for both of us and I wanted to make sure that none of her friends had that same experience.  I took her address book home with me and wrote notes, which included memorial cards, to the handful of friends that survived her.  I really wanted them to hear the sad news directly from me so they didn’t have to go through the worry when they didn’t hear from her, or worse, unexpectedly finding her obituary online. 

Over the last few years, we’d talked about her final wishes for burial and such, but never about me notifying her friends.  I think The Mom would have approved, though.

Jenn McKinlay quote-books_wine_and_sunshine

4 thoughts on “Lessons in Grief, Part 1

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