The phrase "time flies" is especially true when I think about how much time has passed since my mom passed away. The actual day of her death is very vivid in my mind, and perhaps always will be. You just don't forget watching your mom's chest rise and fall for the last time, and feeling her skin go cold.
I think back to 23 year old me and I remember how overcome I was with grief. Over the next year I went through all the stages of grief; I was sad and depressed, I was angry, I was disconnected, I even tried to barter with fictitious gods. Eventually, my emotions evened out and I was able to function without spontaneously crying or sleeping all day to avoid reality. There's a definite day I remember when I was able to talk about my mom, in the past tense, without being upset. It was a happy memory and I was able to just say it out loud without being sad. I think that's the point everyone needs to strive to get to when they're dealing with the loss of a close family member or friend.
So, where am I at 7 years?
- I miss her but I don't really cry anymore. I can think of a few instances where I've been stressed out and in that stress, she came to mind and I cried.
- I was able to comfortably to visit her grave without feeling that tightness in my chest. I might have been able to do it last year or the year before but I avoided it.
- I work in a nursing home and almost feel lucky that I won't have to deal with my mom getting old, and deteriorating both mentally and physically. Of course losing her at 45 was way too early, but when I'm older that won't be something I'll have to even consider. And, I feel lucky about this because I see people at the nursing home who have great relationships with their parents and they seem sad.
- I'm at a place where I know I can feel any way I want about her death. If I want to be depressed one day, I can. If I want to be "it's whatever" about her death, I can. There's not one way to be and no one can tell you how to feel. If someone tells you how to feel about it, ignore them and don't take what they say seriously. It's no one's business.
- If someone says that you should just "get over it", realize that they are probably more emotionally damaged than you. People don't have the right to bring up your dead loved one if they've never met them or cared to even ask the specifics. Every situation is different and no one should generalize your situation.
- You aren't required to stay close to any blood relatives if you don't want to. As an adult you begin to realize that you don't owe them anything. The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself and try to build a decent life. I, personally, am better off with distance between family.
- Speaking of the word "family"...family is whatever you make of it. You can build a new family with good friends, a good partner, and a few fluffy kitties. I feel fulfilled and that's all that matters!
- I always know I'll experience some type of grief as the years pass. If I buy a house, she won't be there to congratulate me. If I graduate nursing school, she wont be there. There's always something that will happen where I'll be like, "man, I wish I could tell mom." But that's okay because the grief isn't consuming anymore, it's just a short-lived sting.
My number one lesson for anyone who stumbles upon this blog entry is that it gets better. Don't think that you'll never feel better, because you will. Nothing is the end of the world except for the end of the world.