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What now

Parents are gone. No kids, no husband, no family. Well, a brother that doesn’t keep in touch. I am in a place of “what now?” I am sad and feeling sorry for myself today.

After today I have decided to not write about grief anymore. I am going to move on. I need to transfer out of this headspace. I’m going to keep on writing but it will be about other things. I enjoy writing and feel I have other things to say and other things to talk about.

Stay tuned….

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Seeing death

I have been thinking about this. I have been with three family members when they died. My maternal grandmother, my dad and my mom. Just inches away from them.

I have heard people say how beautiful if is when your loved one passes and that if you are near them that you can feel their soul pass and that it is really an amazing experience . That there is this beautiful thing in hearing them take their last breathe.

I call bullshit. Now if you have had that experience that is awesome for you. I did not have this experience and I am disappointed times three. For me especially when it came to my dad and my mom, all I felt was total sadness and deep sorrow at seeing the people I loved the most dead. I so wanted that beautiful feeling I’d heard about so many times. I wanted that breathe taking feeling of them leaving their body and head towards the heavens. I really did.

Don’t get me wrong. I feel completely honored and so beyond grateful I was able to be there for their final breathe and see them out. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But it hurts so much to have the memory of seeing them dead. It’s a visual I will never be able to get out of my head.

Now that being said, there were some really beautiful and touching moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Each passing was so vastly different. There was complete love and compassion with each and those are the memories I will cherish. With my dad especially there was very honest and heartbreaking conversation . Things he needed to say to me. Words I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I do try to not think of the final few minutes. Whenever it pops into my mind I do whatever I can to think of something else. I’m not always successful at this but it does get a bit better with time.

Strange things I did early on in grieving

Lost my memory. Not even kidding. I forgot just everything. From people’s names to where I left things to what I said three minutes….no three seconds previously in a conversation. I found myself constantly saying “What was I saying? Where are those keys? What was your name? I had what I call “grief induced amnesia” It’s a real real thing.

I lost my patience. The smallest thing had me lose my shit! I’m not going to give a for instance’s because it’s just to embarrassing. But I had to give apologies often to friends, family and clients for having zero patience. I just could feel anger in me all the time and if something rubbed me the wrong way I would just explode.

I wanted to be alone yet hated being alone. This is the one that really screwed with me. My boyfriend was being double messaged a lot. I would tell him “I need my space and time alone….but don’t go to far away”. I didn’t want to be touched yet really needed to be held. He was very patient and understanding but I was a bit out of my mind.

I would say things and instantly wanted to take them back. I don’t know. I just had no filter. My brain lost the ability to sensor what came out of my mouth and I said things that would make no sense. Like grief induced tourettes. Thank god that didn’t last long.

There were other things that I did that were out of the norm for me but I now know that when I was in deep grief I was not my normal self. My body was being invaded by this huge monster of emotions and it took absolutely everything in me just to function.

I am now into a different set of emotions on the grief roller coaster and I am hanging on for dear life.

Music/Cleaning House

I love music. But it does trigger so many raw emotions for me. I can be stopped absolutely dead in my tracks no matter what I’m doing when a certain song comes on. I know most people experience this same thing. It’s one of the things that makes music so important in a culture. It touch’s us on some deep connective level and has the ability to transport us from where we are to where it takes us.

I like to listen to music when I am cleaning my house. It helps me stay in the mode of getting it done. Except for lately it seems I just end up sobbing through whatever I’m doing whether it’s cleaning the showers, vacuuming, changing the sheets on the bed or mopping the floor.

I find myself just stopping and thinking about my parents and how much I miss them. I will catch myself getting lost in memories that are being stirred up by whatever music is playing. I will look at photos I have all over the place. I like having family photos around my house but I don’t always stop and look at them…In fact I sometimes go out of my way to NOT look at them.

But, when the music is on and I am dusting I can’t help but pick up photo’s and stare at them and have all the feelings just come spilling out. I don’t consider this a bad thing… In fact It’s probably good to let it all out.

But damn it makes for a long day of cleaning.

Pity Party

So yesterday my anxiety was on overdrive. All day! Sure I could have taken a Xanax or a Valium just to help ease the anxiety but I chose instead to drink. Okay, when I mean drink I had TWO bloody Mary’s. That’s right . Just two. I am not a big drinker and typically I may have one or two cocktails a week if that and usually it’s a social thing. But yesterday I gave in. And I’ll share another secret…..I smoked a cigarette too. Oh boy. I was living on the edge. But I have decided that for me, when I am in that state of mind, if I chose to do something that isn’t necessarily that healthy, I will allow myself the indulgence. Because I don’t do it often, I refuse to beat myself up for being human and doing what feels good at the moment.

I feel that we do what we have to do and it may not always be the right thing. But is there a right thing when we are grieving? I remember when my dad died last year, Haagen Daz Vanilla ice cream became my best friend. Every night it was just me and that container (Yes….the container…I won’t mention what size) and for about 20 minutes all the pain and sadness was on hold. The pleasure of the ice cream truly took me out of my head and I just went with it. And of course I did put on a bit of weight. But shit, I didn’t care. Comfort was what I was after. Just brief comfort.

I am now passed this phase thank god. Okay, maybe not totally. I still have a date night here and there with Haagen Daz. My mom used to say ” Life is short so enjoy that ice cream sundae at the end of the day”. So in a way I feel like I am honoring her by doing this. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

So last night I had a mini pity party. And I mean very mini. I barely had a buzz. But, just the ritual of the drink and the cigarette felt good. I can’t lie about that.

I won’t do it often but I will do it again. Fortunately for me I don’t suffer with addiction. Man, I feel bad for people who do and that are grieving. What a slippery slope that could be.

Freakin Anxiety

That feeling you get when you so fully realize that you will never see them again. I know they are gone. I get it. But today it really hit me hard like. OMG!! I am never ever EVER going to see either one again. I can’t talk to them , I can’t hear their voices, I can’t see them or hug them….Oh god. What a horrible feeling it is. It’s such a deep guttural feeling of sadness . I need them both so much right now.

The truth is I do believe it is very possible I will see them again when my time comes. I can only hope and pray that this happens. But for now, today , I am filled with anxiety and sorrow. I am grateful this feeling doesn’t come to often because it’s almost paralyzing .

Cutting through Grief

I am a hairstylist and I am always busy. Someone is always in my chair. When my dad died I was back to work two days later and worked twelve day’s straight in a row. I had zero time to grieve. I had missed two weeks of work while he was in the hospital and my clients had been patient and understanding but, they wanted their hair done and they wanted me to do it.

So there I was cutting someones hair or coloring it and tears were just streaming down my face. I had no choice because I couldn’t just blow off my business as much as I wanted to. Plus, I needed the money. I needed to work. So client after client I was just a mess. I would try an excuse myself but it just was better to let the tears come.

The good news is I didn’t mess up anyone’s hair. Although I will admit that I probably didn’t turn out my best work during that time but hey! My dad had just died a terrible death and my heart was breaking. I have had most of my clients for a very long time and they seemed to understand and cut me some slack.

In someways I welcomed the distraction . I mean, if I wasn’t working it’s very possible I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed. My dad’s passing was very hard on me and I was in shock. I have to say that the shock was almost more than I could handle. I did get my self into grief counseling immediately because I knew I was in trouble but that only helped so much.

When you are grieving the thing is to just go through it. I had to work so everyone was going see me and I learned to not be ashamed or apologize for it. I wore no makeup for weeks because why? I would just cry it off. There were days that quite frankly I didn’t even shower or gave a shit how I looked. I resented that I wasn’t in a position to take time to grieve the loss of the most important person in my life.

Now, I could have taken time off but my fear was I would lose clients and money and I would disappoint people. I mean, my business is all I have and I have worked really hard to get it to where it is all by myself. I started to realize what bullshit this was. It was more than being afraid. I started to think about how many people I have known who have lost loved ones and went right back to their life without taking time to grieve.

How crazy is that? My dad dies and Boom! Two days later i’m back to work twelve straight days with no day off! My mom dies and Boom! The day after….back to work. I guess my take away is that it is a bad idea to not give yourself some time to wrap your head around it after losing a loved one. Even a week would have been so great.

So it has been a year since my dad died and almost six months since my mom died and guess what? I am taking the whole month of September off. Thats right. I am going to take the time and take care of myself. I am going to take walks, go on a trip, hang out with my dogs, and probably cry a bit….Or a lot.

Hopefully when I return to work I will no longer be cutting through grief.

Becoming an adult Orphan

So I have heard this term used before and now it applies to me. How strange to be on this planet without either of my parents . These were the people who loved me more than anyone. Sure there are people in my life who love me but not like my mom or dad. I don’t have any children so it makes me feel very alone. Like being on a deserted island .

When I lost my dad I was wiped out. His death hit me hard. I was not prepared in any way to lose him. So that happened and then seven months later my mom died.

Now her death I was a bit more prepared for because she had lung cancer. She didn’t actually die from lung cancer…..She ended up dying from a brain hemorrhage which in some ways I was grateful for because she didn’t have to suffer the end stages of lung cancer. The point is I knew our time was limited .

From the moment she was diagnosed I made a very conscious effort to make every moment count. We had a beautiful three and a half years. When I was in her presence I would tell myself to soak it all in. Just look at her, watch her, video her and take photos, touch her, hug her, and tell her you love her as often as possible .

It brings me comfort to know I did all those things. Somedays I can’t bring myself to look at any of the videos or photos because it hurts so much and then other days I can’t get enough. I’ll look at a video over and over or a photo for minutes on end. It’s strange. But, grief is very strange. This I have discovered and want to go into more in another post.

I feel very blessed that I had my parents for as long as I did. I feel bad using the term Orphan because I know there are so many people who never did have a set of parents to grow up with. That’s not lost on me. But, having parents who have been in my life for 57 years and are now gone is just really hard. I was very close to both of them and my heart is broken. I know we are suppose to survive our parents but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck when they leave us. My parents were such characters I thought they would live forever . I truly did.

 

 

 

 

Grief is Unique

My grief is so unique to me but I take comfort in knowing it is a human experience and everyone will at some point have grief enter their life.

I am going to blog about my personal journey through the most difficult time of my life because I am hoping it will help me process. And maybe someone will read something I have written that will resonate with them. We are all in this together and yet I have found grief and grieving to be a very lonely journey. One we can only walk alone.

Yes, there are many books to read and I have read many of them. There is also grief counseling and I have done that too. And I can honestly say that it did help…. A little bit. I think I was looking for something to take all the pan away and make it all easier to get through. Shit! Nothing but nothing is going to do that. Maybe a Martini and a cigarette but how often are you going to do that unless you are suicidal. And truth be told I think I have been for moments here and there.

Losing my parents within 7 months of each-other was like having the rug pulled out from under me while standing in mid air. First my dad then my mom. Losing my dad was hands down without a doubt the worst thing I have ever gone through in my whole life. More on that in my next blog post.