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grieving can't be rushed

by Judy
September 13, 2015

As I stay close to my experience since my mom died about two and a half months ago, I am acutely aware how this grieving has its own course to follow, can’t be rushed and is always different. It is different each time a loved one dies – it’s different from day to day and is different, not similar, to anyone else’s grief although of course there are similarities.

When my father died at a relatively young age – 62 years old – it was very sudden. I was twenty-nine years old. He had a heart attack and I came from California to be with him and had a lovely warm contact. He seemed to be doing fine. I went back to California and the next thing I knew he died on an operating table in the middle of the night. I was so grateful that I had seen him and was also haunted for months by the fact he died in what seemed like such a cold place – an operating table. And then he came to me in a very vivid dream – more real than a dream – and he told me not to worry, that he was fine. From that moment on, I was released from that very troubling preoccupation. It was a real blessing because something softened and relaxed in me.

In the case of my brother, it was different. He died prematurely at the age of 42 of a debilitating disease. I was with him the last 8 months of his life. It was devastating but I also had time to somewhat adjust to his dying. I grieved my brother’s passing for many years and always when I dreamed about him, he would be sick. In the dreams often I had lost touch with him and was worried about how he was. The grieving went on for many years. It was a very private affair. And then there came a time – I don’t remember exactly when but much later after he died, when I had a dream with my brother and for the first time he was well. It left a very strong impression upon me. It was as if my grieving that had gone on for so long was lightened, as though there was some resolution.

Since my mom died, I am back up north where I lived before helping to care for her and in many ways it has been very good. I have been seeing many of my friends and started to finally paint again. But still there is this hole in my heart and I will have what I call “grief attacks” at unexpected moments. At those moments I want so desperately for my mom to still be alive and hard to believe she is really gone. There will also be those times when I am acutely aware of wanting to call my mom to tell her some good or interesting news and she is not there.

Waking up this morning I realized that the key is acceptance – really accepting my mom is gone forever. Sometimes when these grief attacks happen I feel like I am having a tantrum – I just don’t want to accept that she is gone. I want her back. It’s not fair. I realize this is all irrational but that is the emotional response and waking up this morning, I sensed that in time – and who knows how long or short that time will be – but I could see in the horizon acceptance and what a difference it makes. It’s like seeing the form one will become but not quite being there yet, but knowing I will get there.

This time around the grieving has a certain distinct quality. Maybe it’s because of how unbearably close we did get, being older, not so busy and just more aware, that I experience this grief as a deep pain – the pain of deep love. I’m sure I've experienced this pain before, but again I am so much more aware than when I was younger. I observe myself immersed in the grief and then there is a coming out and often some understanding unfolds.

I do have a sense that there is a “rainbow” on the other side of the mountain. It just will take time. I sense this joy and creativity that is on the other side. I mean it’s in me now, but there is also sadness. It is unavoidable. Everyone has to go through this and grieve in their own way. But, as they say, time is the perennial healer and on the other side of sadness, there is great joy and a creative spirit that is in me and was so much in my mom. I still think of my mom’s laughter, smile and humor and the pleasure she took in creating and seeing me create. That is the legacy she left me and is waiting to fully burst into color. 



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