A fellow blogger who recently lost her father posed an interesting question on her blog, which went along the lines of what happens after that first year of loss?
As a society, we tend to mark major life events by months, then years. So what does happen on that first month after the first year marking the death of a loved one? While it’s common for people to mark the six month anniversary of something, the 13th month is not so common.
Soon, I will know, as the one year anniversary of my mother’s death quickly approaches May 21.
I don’t think my grief will suddenly lessen when June 21 rolls around, but perhaps a loosening in the monthly ritual is a part of the healing process. There was at least one month in this first year where I actually didn’t mark the day itself; I thought about it before and after but not on the actual day. At first I felt bad, but then I realized that it was probably a positive sign.
My father’s death was a completely different process. First, there was a greater sense of relief in that death finally freed my father from Alzheimer’s cruel gasp. At 79, Dad had lived a pretty long life and as an almost lifelong smoker, if dementia hadn’t taken him, emphysema (which he had) or lung cancer probably would have. With my mom, even though she was only 2 years younger, I felt like with proper, prompt treatment, she may have had some good years left.
Another difference in the grief process was that my grieving for my dad was cut short due to my mom’s illness. She became ill just six months after my father died. I had to switch gears, letting Dad rest in peace while I poured all of my energy into keeping Mom alive and nursing her back to health. By the time she recovered, Dad had been gone for a year or so and time had began to heal the loss.
In a way though, taking care of Mom helped me feel less guilty about not being there for dad as a caregiver. So while I’m not saying that Mom’s cancer diagnosis was a good thing, there was at least one positive outcome.
After surviving Mother’s Day (which I marked by participating in a charity walk and visiting cats at a shelter) I have now survived every holiday for the first time “motherless.” For those of you have been through the grieving process, I’m sure you can understand my feeling of relief.