Every day, Monday through Friday, I get an email from this amazingly great website called GriefShare. Each email guides you through the grief process a little bit more. I highly recommend it for someone who has lost a loved one, because it’s a nice moment to reflect every day in a not-always-painful way.
Today I was reading day 246. “Responses that cause people to be stuck in grief.” The advice it gave was that if you felt like you weren’t acting like the loss was affecting you, make it a point today to tell someone just how much the grief is affecting you deep down.
Well, I don’t know if I’m acting like it’s affecting me or not. But I thought I’d share my experiences over the past little bit.
I didn’t know how I would handle Christmas, but I did reasonably good. My husband was half convinced I’d be a bumbling mess, but I didn’t even cry at all on Christmas. But for me, the grief came not during, but before and after. Making cookies with Mom was a tradition I cried through this year. Holding my grandmother’s spritz cookie recipe filled me with a sense of sacredness, as if I was connected to her and my mom through the dough. I know how stupid that sounds, but it was a way for me to remember them through a labor of love. I don’t think I even ate but 5 or 6 cookies, I gave them all away happily.
I cried putting away Christmas ornaments. Mostly because I suddenly realized all the new ornaments I had… ornaments that had been on Mom and Dad’s tree for years. I had iTunes on random playing my entire collection, and I was doing OK until they started playing a beautiful lament that was played when the fellowship lost Gandalf. I sat on the floor and cried, the dog trying to cheer me up by bringing me his tennis ball.
Every week I get an email about my baby’s progress, and every week I get an email about how to share this experience with the soon-to-be-grandparents. Every week I want to shout at the screen. I’m so incredibly thankful for Justin’s parents and the relationship we have with them, but it’s still not my parents.
When I think about my child, I think about the things I won’t have to worry about now that my parents are gone. When I think about these things I mostly feel guilty. I won’t have to convince my parents not to smoke indoors when my child visits. I won’t have to fight them about drinking with the kids around. I won’t have to beg them to come to church with us. I won’t have to explain to the kids why Nanny and Papa live so miserably, and I won’t have to worry about caring for them when they become old.
This is me being completely honest here. I crave my mother’s touch, my father’s laugh, and it has not escaped me that in trade for those things I now have to explain to a child why Mommy’s parents aren’t around. Why Mommy looks sad for just a moment at new milestones, even though she’s happy. I have to explain to a child the sting of death in ways that children should not have to hear until they are much older than they will be when they start to ask me questions. How do you explain suicide, murder, alcoholism and mental illness to a child? These are questions I am plagued with now, because lying or hiding the problem is not an option. Too often I have seen that done and I refuse to do my children that disservice.
This is getting off topic. I miss my parents, I miss their voices and their smells and the laugher I felt so often with them. I function normally, I do not cry very often, but they are never very far from my thoughts. And I’m ok with that.