I think September 2016 has been the worst month of my life. I know that’s a strong statement and I don’t take it lightly. People warned me that grief gets much worse before it gets better and I must say, they are correct. At the end of August, during the early days of grieving, we were focused on honoring my mom and ensuring her memorial service was as she wished. After that, we were busy with visits, food drop-offs, reading cards, accepting beautiful flowers, and opening gifts.
And then reality set in, and for me, this was like a punch in the face. Once the adrenaline calmed and the routine of life tried to take hold, a dark cloud seemed to settle over me that I couldn’t move. Despite a lot of alone time, visits with friends, prayer, and other strategies, the sadness was so heavy. I started to realize how very much my mom was ingrained in my every single day. Each time my boys did something cute or funny, I would reach for my phone to tell or show her, then realized I couldn’t. Moreover, I’m dreading and fearing the holidays with an overwhelming intensity.
At first I tried to fight it and put on a happy face or I would have a glass of wine or beer to help drown out the thoughts. I cried less and less because I just basically felt completely numb inside.
As September continued, I began to feel disengaged from everything and was having extreme difficulty accomplishing work and seeing anything as good or happy. I’d always heard that depression and anxiety can have physical components. After experiencing insomnia, nerve tingling, stomach cramping, sweating, dry mouth, and a chronic cough, I am now certain this is true.
Throughout September, I thought, if I can just make it to the 30th, I’ll do better next month.
And so here we are on October 7, and I’ve stayed true to my self-promise, for the most part. I’ve decided to wake up each day this month with the goal of thinking of my mom fondly and if the tears come, they come, which they have every day. A couple of Christmases ago, my mom gave my sister and me rose pins that were attached to a card with a poem called ‘Daughter’. I’ve put the pin on my sun visor and each day I kiss two fingers and touch the pin. It’s sort of become a ritual of remembrance.
I’m just letting the emotions take hold of me. Whether it’s anger, sadness, worry, guilt, frustration, whatever, I’m just letting them have their way with me. I think it’s the only way to naturally grieve. Typically, I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl, but I’m admittedly having trouble doing that right now. And that’s okay because I know if I don’t grieve appropriately, I will suffer later. I’ve seen it happen to other people.
Thankfully, I have some exciting events and trips coming up this month, and though I certainly don’t feel happy in the traditional sense, there’s a minuscule flicker of joy as I think of some of these things. Next weekend, my dad and I are flying up to see my sister. All three of our birthdays are in October. My sister works full-time and has a family in DC so while we have utilized our phones and Face Time constantly, we haven’t seen or hugged her since the end of August. We need to be together right now, so my dad said all he wanted for his birthday was for all three of us to be in the same space. Next Friday, we fly out.
Later in the month, I’m headed to the annual Type-A Conference which is held in Orlando this year. This will be my fourth time going. I’ve made some very close friends through the years at this event, and wee’re all very much looking forward to being together in a few weeks.
Then of course there is Halloween and when you’re the mom to two little boys, how can Halloween not be fun? Four-year-old Case is going to be a Power Ranger and seven-year old Brooks is going to be a little old man. They came up with these ideas all on their own and if you know these boys, these choices are very fitting for each of them.
So in October, a month that’s always been my favorite, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to quit playing push and pull with grief and just let it come. Meanwhile, I’m going to take better care of my health and look forward to these upcoming events.
As they say, this too shall pass. To some degree, I know that it will, but when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to perceive if that will truly ever happen.