Blue mountains stretching into the distance

Grief, My First Year On This Remarkable Journey

Loosing a parent hurts and grieving is hard work, I know this because my Dad died about ten years ago. Loosing my mother recently has been more impactful than I could have imagined, it is not a strain to say that it has been a life-changing event for me.

My “normal” has gone and won’t be coming back, slowly I expect that a new “normal” will emerge. I feel as though my compass bearings have slipped and my compass has not yet reset. I am in a different place in life, it’s difficult to explain, other friends who have lost both parents do understand what I mean so I know that I’m not loosing it, this apparently is the process of becoming an orphan as an adult.

If you read the last post you could be forgiven for thinking that this writer has her stuff together, that I am out everyday running with my grief on the hills, being in the moment, feeling the feelings and generally being in touch with my grieving. Actually, every now and then that is how I am, however I also sat on the couch, or in front of the computer, for at least half of the last two months and reacquainted myself with two old friends – Benjamin and Jerimiah.

The sugar love only lasted about four weeks however it was quick to appear on the hips and even when I dumped the two boyos I still wasn’t eating as well as I can so I’m slowly coming back to clean paleo and reducing my carb intake to see if I can drop the extra load, after all, I’m carrying enough right now without the added physical weight. I worked hard to change from size 22/20 down to 16 and I’m so determined now that the only change will be to a smaller clothing size rather than larger.

It’s understandable that my good eating habits slipped, my family map has changed and with it my place on my map of life has changed; this is uncharted territory for me. Sometimes it feels as though I have jumped into another dimension altogether however I’m still here, still putting one foot in front of the other, maintaining contact with my siblings and my home-place. I know from family chats that I’m not alone in the feeling of lostness, the difficulty in maintaining focus for any length of time, the tiredness that comes from a day of memories, the mood swings.

A deer sniffs the air
Sniffing the air, listening intently, assessing what’s happening

I have great support and I’m reaching out past family to friends as well, I feel grateful for the good people in my life and also for how my life is. I’m so grateful that I had good relationships with both of my parents and have so many good memories, not to mention that I have so many of their characteristics which keep them both alive in so many ways.

I wanted to write about the process of grief that I’m going through because I think it’s important to share mental health issues and grief certainly affects mental health. If I didn’t have close siblings or open and really honest friends who have been down this road, I might actually doubt my mental health right now, even heading to the doctor for medication to balance my moods.

When I was looking for books on the experience of grief I came across The Long Goodbye written The Long Goodbye: A Memoir by Meghan O’Rourke. When Meghan was interviewed in the New York Times review about why she had written the memoir she said “Most people are uncomfortable around loss. Friends talk to you about “getting through it” and “moving on” and “healing.” We shy away from talking about death, not out of cold-heartedness, but out of fear. No one wants to say the wrong thing; and death is scary. I think this is part of why there are so many memoirs and movies about loss: they create a public space where we can talk safely about grief.”

So many people cover up the grief, some have no choice but to be operating at 100% because of work or family pressures, some cover it up because to show or feel the feelings would be too hard for them. If I were to pretend that everything was fine all day, every day, then I have no doubt that my mental health would suffer further down the line. I’m on a seesaw at the moment, one moment tears can be close to the surface (or overflowing the surface) then ten or fifteen minutes later I might be really fine again and this for me, at the moment, is as normal as it gets.

This too will change, this too will pass.

A misty view of forest with bridge
The mists will lift, the clouds will pass, the view will change

As usual, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Have you some experience with grief or are you curious about the process? Leave a comment, let’s have a chat…

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  1. Ahhh!!! This is a subject that has touched my life in many ways from a young age. When it’s a parent however it’s the most wrenching grief. It’s like the world has moved it’s axis and you haven’t moved with it. The thought that things can still happen every day as if nothing has changed in the world when really nothing will ever be the same again. I still have my dad and he is as active as an active 86 year old can be. Independent and living alone. The thought of him going fills me with dread. It’s inevitable that then I too will join the grieving adult orphans club. I can tell you now it I won’t be graceful about it. I’ll be kicking and screaming blue murder to loose another chunk of my heart. I’m not a hidden griever in fact the opposite. I’ll let it consume me and I’ll feel every second of it to my core until it numbs me and I can finally get to a place where I can treasure the happy memories. Holding memories of our loved ones dear and close to our broken hearts. Sending my deepest love to you my dear friend ?

    1. Thank you Bobbi, my heart hears you and sends love back across the oceans.

      We’ve just passed the two year mark with of my mother’s passing this summer and the grief is changing, it’s still strong and my mum, both of my parents now actually, are still daily in my thoughts. It’s less pressing I guess, sometimes waves still however now it’s more like being in a flowing river than the torrent of waves from every direction which it was.

      I’m glad you still have your dad, I do remember that you would speak fondly of him years ago and I remember seeing of photos of him. You say it so well here “The thought that things can still happen every day as if nothing has changed in the world when really nothing will ever be the same again.” This thought slams into you, the first time for me was waiting for the hearse to arrive at the house to remove Dad for preparation, he was returned later that evening and remained at home for two nights, with us staying awake with him in turns through the nights. But that moment, when I was outside the house, waiting for the undertakers, listening to life around me, the sounds of cooking from the neighbours, children playing, traffic, it all sounded different and my thoughts echoed those you have described.

      Then there is the awareness, just now and then, when I am still for a moment and I realise that someone, somewhere, is feeling that feeling of the world having changed forever and I offer up some love to them, whoever they are and the wish that they are free to grieve in the way that benefits them best.

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