Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grieving on The Installment Plan

Dear Aunt B,

My mom died a week ago of ovarian cancer after battling with it for
about 5 months, and I'm just... not that sad. I do miss her,but not
like I thought I would. I'd rather have her here with me, but I'm okay
with the fact that she's gone. I haven't cried, except for the night
she died, and I'm not angry or hurt or... anything. If anything, I'm
relieved that the whole ordeal is over, and that I no longer have to
come home and see her slowly cannibalize herself and slip away from
us, and that she's finally out of all the pain that she was in. I feel
like I lost her a month ago when she just stopped hugging, kissing, or
even looking at me, but still. It's my mom that died, and I'm not
grieving out of my mind. Life is kind of peaceful now for me, and I
know that sounds terrible, but I just can't understand why her death
is so alright with me. My father is taking it hard, my family is
too... even my friends are more upset than I am. But for some reason,
I'm still going to school (I went the next day), still doing
everything I normally do, and I'm even laughing and having a good time
with my friends. The only thing that has changed is that I now value
my family and friends more, and seem to have more of an appreciation
for everyone and everything around me.
But is it terrible that I'm so calm and composed about this whole
deal? Shouldn't I be a bit more depressed about her not being with us
anymore? Or is it normal for me to just be happy that it's all over
and she's in a better place, and for me to get on with my life so
quickly? I honestly don't know what to say to everyone who always asks
how I'm doing. I feel strange saying "Oh, I'm actually doing really
Dear Alicia,

We all grieve differently. There is no defining factor, there is no set of rules. There are only suggestions and the main one is to allow yourself to grieve. I personally have done it on the "Installment Plan."

You asked,
"Or is it normal for me to just be happy that it's all over
and she's in a better place, and for me to get on with my life so

Your Faith speaks volumes to me. When my Grandpa died, I cried that night and that was it. I knew and had an awesome Peace that he is in a better place. And it was that very man, my Grandpa who instilled that faith in me. I look through my pics online or I come across his pics and often might feel like, well, I will tear up, all these years later but it is because I miss him.

When my husband died in 1989, I held it in, doing the bravery thing for our sons. Quite often, I will hear a song of endearment, i.e. Blood, Sweat & Tears, "You Made So Happy," he'd taken me to their concert for our first wedding anniversary back in 1976. He had them announce our anniversary and they then dedicated the song to me, from him. If I happen to hear that song and per chance the wind is blowing a certain way, I just might lose it. The flood gates open.

As I said, I tend to grieve on the
Installment Plan. Of course, there's a lot to that story; regret and a sense of I wish I knew then what I know now as we were separated when he died. I'd left him because of his behavior, knee deep in pain related addiction. I was young and dumb and I thought I knew it all. I sure didn't...

There may be more to your story than you share(concerning the relationship between you & Mom) but I think you'll probably grieve on that installment plan too. I see nothing wrong with it and if your Mother's wishes were known, on this very day, I am willing to bet that although you two often butted heads, you were and are more alike than you know and she does not want you to hurt, least of all over her. In fact, she just might be there with you and your smile makes her happy.

I call it "Calm Assurance." It is what you have. It is a faith based feeling where you just know all is going to be well, in respects to your Mom. And I'd rather you felt this way than anything else...

However, I do not want you to feel guilty about these feelings or lack thereof, ok? If it does tend to overwhelm you, these pangs of guilt, I would suggest a Grief Counselor. They can/will help you process your feelings. My own Father died from the "Big C" and cancer is an awful way for someone to die. You watch them slowly, painfully slip away. It challenges the greatest of minds, the strongest of hearts.

You just went through an horrendous loss. This wasn't just anybody but the woman who gave you life. She will not be there for many momentous occasions. I know there are so many times I wish my Husband, Dad, Grandma's and Grandpa's could be here and see what I see. I so badly wish that my husband was here to share our Grandkids as I think he would've been a wonderful Grandpa. Every now and then, it hits me and I tear up again. If such feelings visit you, let it all out.

You are more than welcome to write me and as a matter of fact, I would look forward to updates as to how you are doing, ok?

Keeping It Real,

Aunt Babz

Dear Alicia,

I personally think that we grieve in different ways for each person we lose... and differently then others will with the loss.

It sounds to me like your mom was in a really bad place, and the cancer was eating away at her. I had an uncle die of skin cancer this way, and it was hard to deal with much less see everyday.

When someone who is really sick and not themselves does die, there are people out there who look at the |bright side| in that the person is no longer suffering (ending your suffering too, because no one wants to see their loved ones in pain), and are able to cope with the loss.. .because it is actually a blessing.

I don't think there is anything wrong at all about the way you are dealing with the loss of your monther. Just don't sell yourself too short, because it may one day effect you differently and you won't expect it. Let the grief be what it is, the loss of a significant person in your life, and don't beat yourself up over you thought you had dealt with this. You have. But love travels long and far, and you never know when things might effect you.

I am sorry for your loss, and hope that the memories you do have are comforting and will continue to make you feel good.


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