As I was checking my email yesterday, I saw my periodic email from Thrive Global with the subject line, “How do you help someone who’s grieving?” After reading the article that accompanied the title, it took me back to my own grieving over the last few years and has prompted me to reiterate my own rules for grief in this forum.
My mom passed away in March 2015 and after grieving the loss of my father in 2012, I didn’t know what to do or how I was going to live without her. Don’t get me wrong, I still have those days now and then, and probably will for the rest of my life. My mom was my rock, and other than my best friend, she was the only other person in the world who knew me inside and out. She loved me no matter what. But after she passed, I didn’t know my place in the world. I had always been the caregiver – as my parents grew older, they were my kids and I would move heaven and earth to make them happy. I think my friend Jenny said it best: “when your dad died, you didn’t really grieve because you were so focused on your mom and her being okay. Now that she’s gone you are grieving both at the same time.”
My friends got me through the darkest days of my life, and without them, I know I would not be here. I’m not as strong as people think I am, and losing my mom was the ultimate test. I’m still trying to figure out if I passed or not. In any event, I came up with some thoughts over the last couple of months about grief and love and doing what YOU need to do to get through your own process. Some will help, others you may say, “she doesn’t know what the F*** she’s talking about.” But to each his own….
1. Cry until you can’t cry anymore….and then cry some more.
2. You don’t have to be strong…be a basket case if you want to be.
3. Make a DVD of your loved one’s life – I did this for the viewing of my mom and I can’t tell you how therapeutic it was for me. I watched it a dozen times and knew she was there with me. Also, it’s a great help if you find you have problems with suggestion #1.
4. Don’t be in such a hurry to move on and get on with life. If anyone tells you to do that, tell ‘em to bugger off.
5. Don’t feel as if you have to forget. When grieving, memories are our bridge to the other side. Think about the good times – and the bad. Remembering both keeps your grief in check and helps you remember that nobody is perfect.
6. Don’t worry if there are times you can’t remember something about your loved one; this is your mind’s way of helping you cope.
7. Don’t feel guilty for having a life and hanging out with friends. This one is very difficult for me and I must say I still have issue with it from time to time. I took care of mom until the day she died but now when I’m out with my friends or at work, there are times I still pick up the phone to call and check on her. And then it hits me. Mom always told me I needed to be with my friends, and not worry about her… some days it’s hard to follow her advice.
8. Let your friends and extended family be there for you – see suggestion # 2.
9. Talk to your loved one every day – in the car, in your room, wherever you want. A friend told me that because most cars today use Bluetooth to connect to cell phones, I can talk to my mom and people will think I’m talking on the phone…LOL. What’s funny is that I do this every morning on my way to work…I talk to mom and dad as I’m driving or stopped at a light. It brings me a sense of peace.
10. To Hell with what people think. This is YOUR grief, YOUR process and YOUR loss. If you need to lock yourself in your room or take a drive to nowhere – do it. Take the time to mourn your loss – you are not one anyone’s timetable but your own.
Grief is scary as hell…I’ve been through it twice with my folks in the last three years, and I’m here to tell you it does NOT get easier. In fact, it gets harder as we get older. When we lose a parent, we may as well be five years old; we become that emotional child thinking that our parents will live forever. And then reality sets in and we must learn how to live without them. I know they taught me well, and I hope mom and dad are sitting on a cloud in Heaven saying, “Yep, we did good.”