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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Survived the 1st Year Anniversary!

I didn't know how the day of my Mom's death anniversary would be. I wanted to avoid it, but instead, I celebrated it by celebrating my Mom. A Swedish Lutheran pastor friend of mine in Denver wrote a nice email to me to please take care of myself that day, and "grieve appropriately."  I did.

I placed a memorial in the paper to appear on the anniversary day in the local paper. I included the Swedish hymn "Children of the Heavenly Father" we sang at her funeral. A Lutheran chaplain at Mayo Clinic sang that to Mom when she went into ICU the morning before she passed the next day.

I picked up a gladiola (Mom's favorite flower), and a candle.  I went to my folks grave with Dodger, and I read the memorial, sang a few bars of the Student Prince Drinking song we played at her burial, then hummed the tune to "Children of the Heavenly Father."  Lit the candle, gave thanks to God for my parents and Mom, then toasted her with a glass (2 large ones actually at 9 am!) of wine. Dodger about burned his tail on the candle as I wiped my eyes from tears that needed to come out. He was in my lap comforting me.

I felt SO much better after all that!  It was healing from the grief of loss.

Sent a scanned copy of Mom's memorial to my siblings and posted it on Facebook. Nice feedback on Facebook including some from relatives across the land, and friends. One younger sibling disapproved of it and proceeded to email me how I should be not grieving and be a big boy, and stop doing what I did.

Told him to "go piss up a rope" like my Mom would tell someone when annoyed. No other response from the other two siblings in the family. But, I was emailed by older sibling to "get out of the tomb" several days beforehand. Not what one needs to hear when recovering.

I decided to get out of town, and went to Madison, Wis., to a La Quinta hotel because they allow dogs. I had a good time down there exploring the city and lakes. Felt like Denver a little. Good to get away. It was funny watching Dodger ride a hotel elevator for the first time. He got the hang of it, and loved sleeping on the hotel beds! Silly puppy!

Don't you love it when you are grieving and someone tells you how you shouldn't be acting or tells you how you should be? Like they are the grief experts in psychiatry? It annoys me. I realize I am better than I was, but my grief will take time I have learned from grief books, and pastoral care.

My grief is different from my siblings because I was in the caregiver role, and they don't understand that role because they were not here to help and live far away. They don't understand the bond one has when caregiving for someone, especially your parents you are looking after.

We caregivers experience another unique loss- that of purpose with our charge we are taking care of after they die. That's why so many caregivers go into depression after the loss of the family member they were caregiving for. To deal with this other loss, some caregivers even take jobs at caregiver places, or hospices, I am told. I might consider that.

Onward and upward. I am doing much better since the anniversary, and feeling better about a future.
I have learned much about myself and doing caregiving which I was not sure I could do. It is all a process.

No regrets!  I'd do it all over again.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

1st Anniversary of Mom's Death

Been a while since I wrote last. Summer was fun, green and beautiful. Managed to plant a garden, get to the lake and work some hours. Been holding together relatively well, Dodger has been keeping me together. I'm even trying to figure where I am going in life in the future to move on.

We got Mom and Dad's house sold, I found the buyer, and my sister did an excellent job as executor to settle the estate.

But, now the first year comes up for Mom being gone in a week or so. September 25th. That was the worst day of my life last year.

Found myself with the wave of grief hitting last Monday. I had been doing so well for a while, and then, boom, it hit like a tidal wave again.

A letter came from Mayo Clinic with a questionnaire in it about Mom's care there where she died, since I was listed as my Mom's caregiver. I didn't want to deal with it, it just opened up the wound again. I filled it out, and then wrote a letter to supplement it because I was there for the whole week with her. After that I started to cry like a dopey kid. I realized I had just relived my mother's death all over again. Oh God, not again!  I thought I was through with all this instant replay and can go on?

So, I got an idea.  So, I did what my Mom would want me to do. I tore all the paper up, burned it in the backyard in the grill, and the deleted the letter on the computer. Then I drove to a nearby town and went to an outdoor restaurant and ordered a wine, and a LARGE Shrimp Cocktail like she liked.  I toasted the skyward heavens to my Mom and Dad. It helped.

That night I also opened the other mail I had missed. It was the fourth booklet from the church- the Stephen Ministers grief books they have sent throughout the year. I found my reaction that day is normal and they will hit like tidal waves off and on in the future. My crying is my healing, letting it all out.

I saw an old interview of Mae West talking to Dick Cavett about the death of her parents in one year in 1930. She said it took her three years to recover and get her life back from the grief. Wow, a tough broad like Mae West saying that, it helped me realize it just takes time and everyone is different on grief. Mae West recovered, and I will too.

This week they placed the Army plague at my parent's grave for my Dad. My little brother and I got that from the Dept of Veterans Affairs.  In my weekly ritual of watering the flowers at the grave, I took a picture. I saluted his plague, as he served in World War 2. 

It will just take time, and I am better than I was a year ago. I miss them terribly, but know, they are with me, and I have to go on.

onward and upward...