As anyone knows who has lost a loved one, your grief doesn’t always progress through the designated stages like it’s described in books. Many of these self-help manuals make it clear that there is no one correct path, but it’s still something you have to experience for yourself to understand.
To all of you who left lovely comments, thank you so much. It does help to know you are not alone.
The first few days after my mother’s death were fueled by an adrenaline rush, to power through and focus on completing the necessary tasks. My goal was to get home as soon as possible.
I returned home and took a few days off from work to get settled in and recharge my batteries. I spent a lot of time receiving “purr therapy” from the cats. I went on walks. I got a massage.
Then I returned to work and the fast pace of my daily duties left me little time for reflection.
So here I am, 10 days after my mom’s death, and more than grief or sadness, I’ve experienced moments of relief and regret.
There is a sense of relief at how quiet my phone is now. Over the last year or so, I had talked to Mom daily on the phone, and over the last few months, she was calling me multiple times per day sometimes, usually to remark about her pain or lack of effective medication. I began to dread seeing her face when it would pop up on my phone, signaling a call from her.
Mom was about the only person to call me on the phone. (I prefer written communication whenever possible.) My battery has dipped low a couple of times, but I wasn’t frantic about making sure I was available by phone because at this moment, for the first time in several years, I am not managing the care of an ailing parent. There is relief in not feeling like I’m on call 24/7.
The regrets pop up in scenes played out from the last month, when I was taking care of Mom. I think what I can take away from these flashbacks is to not get so lost in the necessary caregiving tasks that you forget the simple things, like trying to make it possible for a loved one to enjoy a moment basking in the sunlight, or having a spoon of ice cream. There may be risks involved in trying to make a dying person happy, but looking back, they are risks I wish I had taken.
What lessons have you learned from grieving for a loved one?
2 responses to “Grief, relief and regret”
Losing a parent under any circumstance is always fraught with conflicting emotions. My father passed away prior to my 15th birthday. When I was informed of my mother’s sudden death 35 years later, the first thought that ran through my mind was: “She is finally with him again.” My mother was cremated, so it wasn’t until a couple of months later my brother and I made the trip to Florida to allocate and dispose of her things, and then to Ohio for her “service” in the community where we had grown up. Although we grieved together, our grief was not so much for her death, but for the loss of what “could have been” if life circumstances had not been so difficult for all of us those many, many years ago.
I hope that your memories are fond and that they take their rightful place in the forefront again as your more recent difficulties fade away into the past.
Thank you Barb. The passage of time often gives us a new perspective on those painful moments of our lives.