Coping with Grief

Just over one year ago I took this picture. April 16,2014.


It was the day after my Mom's heart surgery. It was a day full of happiness, love and relief. I knew that her road ahead would be a long one, but I remember feeling like things were going to be okay.

I remember going to see her that morning and she was getting ready to be moved from the ICU to her room where she would be for the remainder of her stay. I asked her if I could take her picture and without hesitation she said "yes". It was such a feeling of relief that we were out of the "first 24 hours after surgery", which seemed to be the most daunting and now we got to look ahead to recovery and her feeling better. Most of you already know that my Mom passed away just 9 days after her surgery.

Below are many random thoughts that I have had over the past year. And when I say random, I really mean random, unclear, unfocused, sad but trying to be happy. All the normal "Coping with Grief" stuff.

I'm trying focus on the good rather than the bad. The time I had with my mom rather than the time I won't have. In the first few months I kept thinking of the all girly things I had looked forward to doing with my mom and Summer together. The pedicures, the girls weekends away. I was excited to share the things that my mom and I had done together, now with a third generation of girls.

I remember a day long ago when I told someone that I never wanted a girl. That I wouldn't know what to do with a girl. Afterall, I only knew life with a boy. Of course down the road that all changed. I longed for a girl. I looked forward to having a relationship with a daughter that my mom had with hers. And I remember the day in the hospital when Summer came into our life being so happy that it was finally a reality. Now especially, I feel like Summer was chosen for me and my family for an even more specific reason. And while I was grateful for her before, I know I won't take a moment of having a daughter for granted.

These days I am trying to remember this: I had my mom in my life for just over 31 years. I can look back on those 31 years and say we laughed, we cried, we got mad, we faught. But we always had fun, we always made up and most important, we always loved. I remember so many car trips with our music up loud, singing. Our trips to Costco, always leaving with a hot dog and a Coke. Her taking my boyfriend and I to the movies, with her sitting just rows behind us. The pedicures, the shopping trips, sitting on the couch watching movie after movie with a big bowl of popcorn. She was always there for me, and I, there for her.

And while I always wish for her to be here for me and my family, it warms my heart to know where she is now. I think of my Grandma Betty, my mom's mom, who has been gone for almost 20 years and she has now been reunited. I think of her own dad, who she never got to know since she lost him just two days after her first birthday.  Not to mention the countless other people we have lost in our lives. But mostly, I think of the little baby brother I never got to meet. The one my mom lost during her 8th month of pregnancy. The one whos 30th birthday we should have celebrated last year. The one who, I'm sure, was waiting to give her a hug 30 years in the making.

Sometimes, I feel as though I am walking in a constant fog of grief.

I remember a day when my mom was over. Summer had just woken up from a nap and my dad went and got her. When they walked out into the living room I said to Summer, "How is my favorite girl?" to which my mom jokingly said, "I thought I was your favorite girl?" I responded by saying that she was still my favorite but now that Summer is here, she is also my favorite. I can't even begin to count how many times I have played that conversation in my head. While I know that my mom truly meant nothing by it, and for it to be a joke, I still think about it often. About how she was my favorite girl for 29 years of my life and then this little girl comes along and takes her place.  Like I said, I know my mom meant nothing when she said it, but that conversation weighs heavily on my mind.

I recently read this: Can you truly say that God is good?
And my answer is so conflicted. Before April 24, 2014 I would have said yes. I would have said that He has a plan for everything He does. I would have said He has a reason for everything that happens, even though I have known so much loss in my life. But now, I can't help but question everything in life. What good is there to come of me not having my mom? What good is there to come of my kids growing up without a Grandma? What good is there in my dad going to sleep everynight without kissing his wife?  I want to believe with my whole heart that He know what is best for us, but how is this best? How does this make any sense at all?

My mom is gone. My life will never be the same again. No matter what anyone says, it will not get better. It will not get easier. But I am adjusting to my new normal.

In the first few months after my mom passed, so many things happened where my first thought was to call my mom and tell her. Or to think, "I can't wait to tell my mom". Or the feeling in my stomach when I started to call her cell phone and suddenly remember. But I remember a day where I was driving down the road and I had this thought: "I need to call my mom because I haven't talked to her in FOREVER!" It really hurt a split second later when reality hit and reminded my just why.

I have so many angry feelings. I'm not mad at her, but for her.  I'm mad about everything she is missing. I recently was looking through pictures and saw one I took of Summer the day before my mom died. She is so tiny. Such a little baby. She was only saying a handful of words, still being shy. Such short hair, not even touching her shoulders.  And it makes me mad that my mom isn't able to pick up that little girl that adored her so much and cuddle her, or sing her "sunshine" just one more time. It makes me mad that she didn't get to see Tyler on his first day of preschool or Zach's elementary school graduation. Or anything else they do.

So here we are, almost a year later. Today is a really hard day for me. Not only are we just a couple of days from the year anniversary, but today, one year ago was the last time I saw my mom face to face. I went to my parent's house that morning after Easter, but we didn't stay very long. I had Tyler and Summer with me and she talked to them for a few minutes but then my dad and aunt took them outside to look for "dinosaur bones" and "dragon's eggs"- which they found, by the way. My mom and I sat in her bedroom and visited for a little bit. I will never forget the conversation that we had, because I now feel like my mom was telling me the things she did because she knew it was the last time we would be face to face. She was tired and worn out, and knowing I would see her in a day or two I packed up the kids and took off. I talked to her for a brief moment, on speaker phone, that night when I called my dad to check on her.

There is no easy way to cope with grief. And there is no right way to cope with grief. We all do it differently, and at our own pace. Don't ever listen to someone who tells you that "It will get better". Because guess what? IT WILL NOT. But you will adjust to your new normal. Don't listen to anyone who might tell you that you need to move on, or grieve differently. Because as long as you are not harming yourself or someone else, then you are doing just fine.

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