There is this funny thing about grief and that is until you’ve gone through it, its so difficult to know what to say, do, how to support someone going through it etc. My intention for this blog is to give others a view into how grief feels, the struggles people go through and how to support them.
I received a call from my sister on a Sunday evening. I remember because I was cooking dinner, she said I think you should come down to the hospital dad called an ambulance and it’s something about moms heart. I told her that I’d be down soon I had just started dinner and I was going to finish making it and head that way. When I got off the phone with my sister a wave came over me-something was very wrong. I looked at my husband and he said you need to leave, I’ll finish cooking dinner. I agreed with him and hopped in my car. It felt like the longest drive ever as I weaved in and out of traffic to get there. I called my sister hoping that it would distract me from the drive and my constant need to check the clock on the dashboard of my car. I remember telling her “mom can’t leave now” I need her. It had been a while since I felt like I “needed” my mom, but I had a huge family situation going on and I needed that unconditional love and support only a mom could provide.
I arrived at the hospital and met my dad and sister there. We sat in the waiting room (which felt like forever) outside the cardiac ER area and got the scoop from my dad on what happened that day. From there on I don’t really recall the banter/conversations but I do remember the moment the doctor walked into the hallway. Being an empath can be a good thing and hell, today it was hell. I knew seeing his face coming down that long hallway that something was very wrong. He sat down in the chair and proceeded to tell us that my moms heart had stopped several times while they were trying to put a stent in, that her heart valves were so blocked, he just didn’t think she was going to make it. My ears heard everything but my head and heart did not seem to want to register his words. My dad stood up and said I am going to be with her and started walking down the hall searching for my mom. I ran after him, being in the medical industry previously; I knew what he would walk into and knew it would not be good. I recall entering the room and seeing her. Her face was filled with so much trauma you could tell her body was not at peace, she laid lifeless on the table tubes in her mouth and the awful sound of the heart monitor with a flat long beep, the nurse on top of her crushing her ribs to ensure she tried to save my mom through CPR/chest compressions. My dad crying in horror of what he was seeing and telling them to stop, just stop. I recall my niece and nephews girlfriend coming into the room and the heart wrenching screams and crying from them both, my heart sank I wanted fix what they saw, take it all away but there was nothing I could do to protect any of us. I couldn’t breath, think, talk, I couldn’t protect myself from this horrible pain or anyone else for that matter. I sat on the cold white floor sobbing hysterically and hating god for taking her away from us. It felt like a fog, a bad dream that someone needed to pinch me and wake me up from and reality set in this was not a dream..
The next few days:
I felt like I lost my identity…Who am I without my mom in my life, what role will I play now in the family. It was a very surreal feeling. There were so many sleepless nights. No one ever tells you when you have that much sadness in your heart just how hard it is to sleep, to eat, to breath, to pull yourself out of bed and the pain. Oh the pain….I remember my husband trying to feed me (literally) I am sure worried about the last time I had fed myself. Each day worse than the day before dragging myself out of bed to have to go help plan the funeral or take care of kids or something for the kids and the house. I just wanted to make it all stop. I just didn’t want to do life. I always figured grief would be like when I lost my pet-you cry, muddle through the evening and are so sad. That day I learned there are varying levels of grief and this kind, well it was the kind that knocks you on your ass, the kind when you fall to your knees and wonder how the hell am I going to get back up, the kind where some days you just don’t feel like getting back up, the kind where you need the support and love of those around you to simply function or have your house function. It is the kind of hell no one ever deserves to go through but sadly each of us will experience in our lives, it’s the club we all eventually join but no one ever wants to be in this club. I don’t blame them.
Stages and Support
Each of us in our family experienced grief and moved through it in different stages at different times. When I was still sad, my sister was angry. Or when my sister and I had pushed forward a bit, my dad was sad and crying. The truth is to truly support someone going through grief you have to show up even when it’s uncomfortable and trust me I know it is but all we really want to do is to talk about the death of our loved one, we want to be sure they are remembered, we want to share what hurts and be reassured it’s okay to still be hurting because it so fucking hurts. You don’t have to have a solution, just a listening ear. It’s been 2.5 years since my mom passed on 7/1/2018 and while I am now at peace that she is in a better place (seeing all of this with COVID, politics etc.-would have put her in her grave anyway) it still hurts somedays and I still want to share with people I miss her, love her and wish she was here to share life with. I encourage us all if we know someone going through this reach out to them. Tell someone you are thinking of them and let them share their grief. Respect their boundaries, they may not be ready to share. Reassure them It’s okay, healthy and normal to be feeling the way they are and give them a listening ear, we all do better when we can get it out. For those struggling to get it out, I encourage you when you are ready to talk to someone, to reach out for help, to not be afraid to be vulnerable. You are not alone and my heart is with you! Love to you all!
I also want to stop and thank my husband, sister, children, family and dear friends who’ve checked on me over the years. I honestly could not have made it through without you each! You each gave me a reason to show up everyday when I did not always feel like it. So much love to you all.