Wednesday, August 16, 2017

7 Things I've Noticed While Grieving

Isn't strange how the process of grieving can be? It's like one day you're completely fine and the days seem hopeful, while other days may feel like a complete nightmare. "It comes in waves," was pretty much the mantra I've been hearing for people who are mourning a lost loved one. It's so true though. Here's what I've noticed with a death of a loved one, especially someone close to you living in the same household...

You'll be flooded with kindness. You'll notice old friends coming out of the woodwork to send their condolences, or to even to invite you out with them. I've had so many invites to friends' houses, but in my state of mourning, I just couldn't. It had nothing to do with them personally -- I'm just not in the mainframe of socializing on a "party level" right now. And yes, my friends still party which is a beautiful thing. Forever young, right?  One of my girlfriends gave me a call and asked me to come over to  her pool party, and although I really really wanted to, I had to graciously decline. I was afraid that one of those waves would consume me making me a big ol' "Debbie Downer." And as fast as those wonderful and sincere invitations come flying your way, they also go flying away once things are settled. People want to help, and that has to be appreciated and respected. So never get offended when the silence of the condolences leaves your doorstep.

Parting ways. In some families, the patriarch or matriarch are usually the ones to tie the family together -- to keep them together. After both parents die, sometimes it's possible for siblings to part their ways. This is actually quite normal and to be expected. In some cases, during the anger phases of grief, siblings can turn on one another for various reasons. Emotions are high and people are extra sensitive during this time. Sometimes, silence is the best way to deal with these kind of things. For me, one sister told me that my "anxiety was out of control." When was it not? Then plop on a big ol' heap of grief and voila -- you have the perfect storm for insanity. If people can't handle you on your worst days, then they do not deserve your best of days. Surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally, who don't have reserved bitterness or resentment toward you or the family in whatever aspect. Learn to choose your company wisely. With that being said, learn to also have a forgiving nature and realize that the other person may be grieving too.

Location triggers. They're the worst sometimes. You can be having the best day, and then BAM -- you stepped into a restaurant you and your loved one used to go to. Yesterday, I went shopping in Kohl's -- a store my mom practically lived in. She would have all of her coupons and Wednesday sales + senior citizen discounts. She was so cute! As I walked in trying to get a jacked up cart that equaled like a pig down the aisles, I laughed and thought of Mom laughing at me. The store felt so strange to be in. After a while, I felt okay. When we got to the checkout, I started getting anxiety with all of the coupon questions and Kohl's card benefits -- I almost started to cry. When we left the store, we were going to have dinner at The Outback for some steak and a couple of drinks -- another location Mom and I went to all the time. I couldn't bear to go without my mom, so instead, I went to this Louisiana type of bar with really good food -- a place I have never gone to before. It helped a lot to get out of the familiar territory that haunted me so much. In time, I'll be able to go, but not now...not now.

Change. Sometimes change is good. For instance, when Mom passed away, I switched up the two large living rooms we have and rearranged the furniture so the entire house would look different. That kind of change is very healthy for your mindset. The one thing that stressed me out was the choice of either keeping the house or selling it. It's way too big for just the two of us, so I suggested we'd move to a smaller house or townhouse somewhere south of here. I'm not sure where, but in the area we live in is extremely expensive and would probably exhaust all of our savings on just trying to maintain the place. The thing with moving is -- that's one of life's biggest changes. For instance, big changes in life are death in the family, divorce, unemployment or changing jobs and of course, moving. Moving was very stressful on me and the one thing you do not want to do right away is move locations. The thing is, with me being in the same house my mom lived in -- maybe it wouldn't be so bad in my case. Maybe this is a "trigger location" -- so we're taking our time with it right now. Leaving this house would feel like another death in the family in some way. It's our ancestral home that was given to me. So, now what?

Mom & I having a cocktail.
The new normal. I hear that all the time, never quite understood it, until recently. My world feels strange. Good things are happening, yet my best friend, my mama isn't here with me to see it. There's no "checking up" on her to see if she's alright or taking her out to the park with my dog she loves so much. There's no more 5 o'clock dinners with her, no more cooking projects when she had the strength, no more watching our favorite shows at night together before she went to sleep. My routine has changed drastically. Sometimes I feel really lonely, because I work from home. So when I would take a break to walk my dog, we would hang out with mom and spend some time with her. Now it's just silence in the house, so I have to step out just to keep my sanity in tact. I'm getting used to it, but it feels so incredibly different. The house feels different. My life is just...different. I guess a "new normal" has taken place.

Personal items & photos of the deceased. They're wonderful reminders, but perhaps better left in a safe place for now until you are ready to face them. They can trigger a world of sadness as they did for me. We have this new rule: if I ever have one glass of wine, I am not allowed anywhere near my mother's bedroom nor am I allowed to just rummage through old photos of her or touch any of her belongings. Madelene once found me passed out sleeping on my mother's side of the bed hugging her pillow with a million and one crumpled up tissues all around me. I went in there just to pray and perhaps, talk to mom. It just felt like I was in her presence inside that room. But what happened was, I started crying so much, that I cried myself to sleep on her side. It was the first time I slept that long in years actually. I'm no longer allowed in that room, unless it's in the morning and I'm all caffeinated up. If you can, try not to do things like that. It hinders your progress a great deal, even though it feels to be good to be somewhat closer to them.

Praying to God or talking to deceased loved ones. This one is tricky and I want to tell you why... If you're a Christian, please guard yourself, because the accuser can deceive you, mimicking your loved one's voice exactly to the tee. Do not talk to the dead, instead -- pray to God first, ask for a hedge of protection and ask God to send a message for you. Otherwise, you're treading in dangerous waters. It borderlines on necromancy, which is a sin and most of all, it's just downright dangerous to do. Signs from loved ones are their way of communicating with you. Accept these wonderful and light "hellos" from heaven. Our time here may seem like forever, but in heaven, time here is just a blip -- we'll get there eventually. Sometimes, people never get signs or messages from their loved ones because they know they're gonna see you in 5 minutes their time. But I do believe if they see you struggling more than most, they will send you a hello. Discern whether or not it is God's will to have them contact you.

These are just my suggestions of trial and error. I have had many instances where Mom had contact with me, but I go to God first and foremost. You can see my post about communicating with deceased loved ones if you click here. As I continue my grief journey, I'll update you on anything I find interesting that may help others cope. I'm finding new coping mechanisms that've been helping me a great deal. I'll write more about that tomorrow. For now, keep the faith and when you have one bad day, remember that doesn't mean it's a bad life. In waves...in waves...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!