Losing a loved one is an experience full of emotions. The grief I’m feeling after the loss of my mother is raw and unsettling, causing me to push the pause button in my own life. Recognizing that my emotional and mental states are not operating for optimal health and well-being is critical right now. Following my intuition to take time for myself, and in ways that are responsive to my personal needs, in order to heal is necessary. The grieving process is different and personal for everyone. Grieving is a tender and complicated topic. So why share my journey with you?
Accountability to do the Healing Work.
Deep inside my memories live some traumatic experiences that have stowed away for decades. As I’ve written in a prior post, I have been persistent in protecting myself from those experiences by building a wall over the years that has since begun to crumble under the heaviness of each added block. Instead of facing my experiences and breaking down the wall, I have allowed it to stand between myself and others.
A few years ago, a breakthrough in that wall helped me to see that my patchwork simply wasn’t working anymore. The foundation suffered weakness, and the time had come to do the heavy work of removing the deteriorating blocks, one by one. I found myself a supportive team and cheerleaders to keep me moving forward, making progress. Just a few short weeks before my mother’s passing, I was working towards the most challenging parts of my wall deconstruction: forgiveness.
I ran out of time before I could come to terms with forgiving my mother and forgiving myself for all of the messy stuff from our past. I know that my time to work on myself is now. Time escaped me once, and I can’t let it happen again. I will process the hard work with support of those who wish to join me on my journey.
Sensitive Subjects are Okay to Talk About.
Grief is a tender topic, one that many people may keep to themselves. Why is that? Grief, in all sorts of forms, is just as common as other feelings, is it not? Grief can occur when we lose something we love, changes in relationships, divorce, when health concerns arise, losing a job, when a home is lost to fire or flooding, or when a friend moves far away; there are so many experiences that are happening to those around us right now where grief is present.
We share our happiness, frustrations, anger, or joy with others, but why are we conditioned to believe that when we are experiencing grief, and sometimes other emotions that are perceived as negative, we must push those emotions aside, pretend that everything is okay and go on with our lives? It’s as if we are not supposed to allow ourselves to actually feel what we are feeling, unless we do it in solitude, in silence, whenever it fits our schedule, and is convenient for others. Is this my own perception? It could very well be.
My grief carries with it unresolved feelings that I was working on up until my mother’s death. I ran out of time to say what needed to be said to the person who needed to hear it. Or maybe I needed to say it for me. Regardless, for me, that adds to the stress the grief of my loved one’s passing holds on its own. There are moments when I feel energized and confident that I can tackle stuff, but that can be quickly ripped away when a memory, a tv show, stepping into my classroom, or when someone simply asks how I am doing is presented to me. All of this leaves me feeling depleted.
Grieving happens in stages, but those stages do not occur in a linear fashion. From the wisdom of my therapist, it can be noted that the stages can overlap and be revisited. Stages happen, but they can happen again. Those who have experienced grieving the loss of a loved one have assured me that grieving can continue for a long time, and although the pain is raw and extreme right now, it will alleviate and get better as time passes. What is important to understand is that grieving is a process and everything that one feels during that process is normal and different for each of us.
Creating Helps me Process.
Sitting with my thoughts lays the foundation for the heavier work of developing those ideas, designing the composition, reflecting and creating. When I have the time to allow my thoughts to come and go as they please, it helps me to ideate. Once an idea triggers a response to create, I can work with words and materials to write or create an artistic visual composition. The creative process is therapeutic for me, and I intend to use it when I need it the most.
I Want to Help Others.
Seven years ago, one of my high school friends suddenly passed away of cardiac arrest. His widow scripted her grief beautifully laced with her faith. I followed along on her journey and cried along with others whose eyes read her words and hearts felt a glimpse of her pain. Now I, too, place my fingertips on top of the keys in search of healing. I find it comforting to know that while I am in this place of bereavement, I can offer a tool or a connection for someone else to explore during their time of grief. We may be faced with our own feelings in our own circumstances, but we are all connected through the human experience. We all want to feel connected to others and know that we are not alone in our journey together. I am here sharing my experience so that someone can find solace in their grief as I explore and process mine.
Knowing that grief is an everpresent force in our lives, I am ready to lean into it and feel all the feels. Accepting that it is a normal part of losing my mother and taking the lessons I am learning from it will continue to develop me into the strong and balanced person that I strive to be, not only for myself, but for others. I intend to fall when I am weak, pick myself back up, humble myself to receive the support of my loved ones, grow from this experience, and then stand and be present for anyone who needs it.