I didn’t go to work last week. After the tumultuous time that was saying goodbye to my mother, making all the necessary arrangements following her death alongside my brother, and finally holding a funeral, I knew I was going to collapse. The crash began after we’d returned home from the cemetery. In the early evening I sat on my bed and went into what I think was shock: my teeth began to chatter and my body began to shake. I remember lying down and crying, and then I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew it was 2 o’clock in the morning.
Since then I have fluctuated between being shockingly calm (though it might be more appropriate to call it ‘in denial’) and totally wrecked. The grief hits me in dramatic waves. I have never been one to hide my feelings, so when the wave comes I try to go with it, even if it takes my breath away. The sadness makes me tired. Which is probably why my brain sometimes shuts down and allows me to feel like everything must be okay: surely I will be able to visit my mom once she has recuperated from this latest crisis. I know it’s not true, but my heart wants it to be.
My days have been filled with reminding myself to eat, napping, crafting, drawing, and a whole lot of wandering. I have talked with my counsellor and seen my massage therapist. We have eaten meals made by friends. Cate and I got a manicure together. On Saturday I ventured out to a birthday party for a six-year old friend. I have appreciated the string of nice days, grateful for the warmth of the sun and the comfortable breeze. Memories continue to flood in. Others tell me it isn’t true, but my face feels permanently stained with tears.
I am now beginning my reintegration to more regular life. I am going to take it slow, but my sense is that it will be helpful to have other things to focus on. One of my obvious coping mechanisms is cleaning (while everything might be out of my control, I can make a sink shine), and there are plenty of opportunities for it in the coming weeks at work and home. I was at the Dale Sunday service yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks. The community gently gathered around me, offering me peace, prayer and refreshingly, not a single platitude. They loved my mom from afar and prayed for her without fail, every single week. I know they will be a part of helping me through this transition.
I keep describing this grief as a complicated one. My mom struggled for many, many years while maintaining deep hope that one day she would experience new life and a redeemed body. Picturing her finally eating food again around a magnificent banqueting table makes me smile. I am grateful that she is free. And I miss her. Life without her is not the same. Which is why reintegrating seems scary and strange, though I know she would be the first person to encourage me back to work. I can hear her reminding me of my call, and saying, “I love you sweetie. You can do this”. Well, I’m going to try.