Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grief: Mother's Day Isn't Always Easy

I was taking care of my grandbaby Gwendy.  She was smiling and happy.  We played and talked and then suddenly she was inconsolable.  She cried and cried and cried.  There was nothing I could do to comfort her or distract her.  All she wanted was her mother.  My daughter Erin came back.  Gwendy clung to her with her tiny hands and buried her face in her Mommy's neck.  She was all smiles again.  I asked Erin for a dirty t-shirt to try next time because it will smell like her. It probably won't work.  When you want your Mommy, you want your Mommy.

All of a sudden it occurred to me - isn't that just like grief?  One moment we're out having a good time, or in reading a book and quite content.  The next minute we are crying or falling apart.  The difference is - the person we want is dead so they can't come and cuddle us.  We have to find ways of comforting ourselves. 

Mother's Day for many people is like my Valentine's Day.  It is a big holiday celebrated by many people who assume that you want to celebrate too.  It is everywhere.  Yet, for someone whose mother has died, whose child has died, who even cannot have children - it may take some navigating to make it a happy day.  It may even be impossible.  I am writing this to honor those people. 

Some people are good at acceptance.  I'm not but I'm working on it.  It's a learning process to be able to show up at a celebration without the person you most want to be there and be present.  To make the person present by not being afraid to talk about them; to tell their story.  It's different.  There was a technique I mentioned in one of my other blog posts that I saw on an old DVD of Milton Erickson - the famous hypnotherapist - working with a client.  When you feel the pain of loss close your eyes - then open them and really concentrate - really pay attention to the happiness around you and see if you can let it enter your body, mind, and soul through your eyes and also through the eyes of the person who has died.  Notice little things, a color, a sound, the earrings someone is wearing.  Paying attention to every detail will help you to be present in the moment.  Think how pleased - if you believe our loved ones are with us - and I increasingly do - they will be to see us enjoying ourselves.  They know that it is difficult for us without them being here on earth - but I believe they also cheer us on and delight in the moments where we succeed in feeling alive.  I realized that with this technique it is important to reverse it before you go to sleep.  When you close your eyes before you go to sleep remember that in your dreams you can be anywhere with anyone.

I have promised this Mother's Day to be aware at all times how lucky I am to have my daughter and grandbaby alive.  Even if Gwendy is screaming as loud as she can.  That screaming proves how strong her lungs are.  After the screaming, the smiling comes.  After the crying, the laughter comes.  For us too.  For me, trying to be an adult - not always succeeding! - I have more control over what I feel than a four month old.  I can take my sad thoughts and think about something else.  I can think of all the good times Artie and I had.  I can roll my memories backwards to the time when he was alive.  I can believe that he is always here with me, holding me gently in whatever way is possible.

This is a journey we take together.  Is having a child die or a mother worse than having anyone else die?  I know a man, a dear friend, who told me (with love) that I could always find another husband but he wouldn't ever have another child or have grandchildren.  He's right.  I could some day have another husband - but I'll never have another Artie.  When Artie was alive if I said, "I wish somebody loved me." he would arch his eyebrow and say, "Somebody?"  I didn't - don't - want somebody to love me - I want Artie.  And he did love me and he still does.  I hope that you can feel the love of those who have died and that if your Mother's Day is like my Valentine's Day that you will find ways of making it a day full of happy moments.  Also be careful the day after.  Sometimes on a "date" like my anniversary or the day Artie died I protect the day so much that it is the next day that I'm knocked off my feet. 

Nothing wrong with crying.  Nothing wrong with sadness.  Nothing wrong with grief.  I haven't changed my mind about that at all.  I've just learned that I don't have to move forward, let go, or say goodbye to find ways to change my ideas about Artie's death so that I give less emphasis to the loss and more emphasis to how lucky I was to have him with me for the time I did. 

Whatever kind of Mother's Day you are going to have - I wish you courage, strength, companionship, and if possible - some hearty laughter.  I'll be thinking of you.  I'll also be thinking of my daughter's friend who is the first person in his family to get a college degree.  He is graduating on Mother's Day.  He also has terminal cancer.  That's why we have to try to train ourselves to appreciate all the moments.  I, who seriously thought of killing myself, now realize that I have a responsibility to Artie and to myself to live while I am alive.  I am still learning.  With extra love and hugs for those for whom tomorrow is a difficult day. xo

1 comment:

  1. It is not easy for a grandmother who words was ineffective in saving and preventing the grandbaby from being aborted or the daughter who aborted her baby who now sits in prison for all of her childbearing years and won't be released until she is 54 years old who cries for what she done and misses her baby whose face she never seen, whose voice she never will hear and never heard, whose form she never will hold, will never rest that tiny head on her shoulder. Mother's Day is so hard for us both.