I have been silent for weeks. My fingers lame, whenever I tried to sit down to write. Silent outside, loud inside. My mother left me 4 weeks ago. She went on a new journey where I couldn’t join. I decided to publish a personal story this time. A story we can all find ourselves because grief is for every human. Saying goodbye and learning to live with it is part of life.
Loss in the pandemic
Especially in these cruel times of the pandemic we all lost something or somebody. A loved one, or a loved one of a friend, somebody we knew. Or even a piece of us, a part of our life, something that make us who we are. It can be that long waited school camp at for my teenager at high school, or that international competition, my topsporter son has been training for years, that 80th birthday party for my mother in low, that wedding for a client, or just much simpler things like being with friends, doing things that give meaning to our life. My story is that I lost my mum.
Unexpectedly, in just a few days, no chance to have a last goodbye or to say those last so important words, hold her hand to accompany her on this last lonely road. No. COVID decided we had to do it alone, she and me, without connection.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
– says Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler.
During the first weeks of her illness I experienced denial. Even though I knew my mother was seriously ill and that she was going leave us, I kept false hopes, and found myself in a movie. Dissociated and looked at the factual happenings as if I was in a dream. Denial is the first of the five stages of grief according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. “It helps us to survive the loss. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief only letting in as much as we can handle. As we accept the reality of the loss and start to ask ourselves questions, we are beginning the healing process. We are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as we proceed, all the feelings we were denying begin to surface.“
Why I had to take care of my mother’s personal belongings, empty her apartment. Why I had to fulfil her wish with her remains, but most of all why she left me alone. She was supposed to stay my mother, the grandmother of my children, loving all of us unconditionally. Who will I brag about them? Who will tell me all those stories from the past? A part of me died with her. I can never be a child again.
“Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross says. “We must be willing to feel our anger, even though it may seem endless. The more we truly feel it, the more it will begin to vanish and the more we will heal. Underneath anger is pain, our pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. “ The different stages don’t always come in a linear order. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one. I felt denial and anger the same time.
Going through her last days, last weeks, or even last years millions of time in my head. What if things developed different? Couldn’t I have done more, convince her about that vaccination, protect her better. Maybe I was not sharp enough. Am I responsible? “We want life returned to what it was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the illness sooner, recognize the problems more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently.” This stage is important; it pops up for weeks or months. Our brain needs a logical explanation to process what happened and what is more logical than examining our own responsibility.
“After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone?”
I am honest when I say, I haven’t fully accepted what happened to my mother. Still too shocking, too quick, too absurd. I look forward to reaching this stage that all my family and friends are suggesting me. We can’t however speed up the process of grief. Sadness is not to fix, we need time to process and integrate the sadness in our life. “Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies.”
Seeking therapy after a loss can help you overcome anxiety and depression by processing your experience at your own tempo. Grief does not follow one particular path. Healing is unique to each individual, and the outlook for people dealing with grief looks different for each person. It will be my task to help you accept all negative emotions and thoughts. You will examine and understand them. Also we will learn to focus on the present as that is when change is possible and when you experience life.
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