Tuesday, January 02, 2018

It's Okay to Let Go...

Miraculously, I made it out of the holidays alive somehow. I didn't know how I would react to it all. I wasn't sure. Christmas without Mom? Without Dad? My partner, Madelene was a huge support system for me, although some people in her family were upset she didn't make it to their events over an hour away. I get it, but this was my first Christmas without my mom. If you can't understand why she couldn't just fly off during Christmas and leave me, then I'm not sure what to say. My partner has known my mom for over 25 years -- she even called her, "Mom." My siblings are her siblings. We decided to head over to my sister's Christmas Eve party and spend some quality time with them. It was important this year. I didn't want to stay home and cry all night, plus, that wouldn't be fair for Madelene. We had a nice time with everyone and then later that night, we headed up. It started snowing while we were driving. It looked so beautiful as the snow fell onto my windshield and blanketed the roads. The same exact thing happened when it was my first Christmas without my father. We drove home while is snowed. It was magical.

The next evening on Christmas day, I had a hard time. I fell into my feelings and couldn't stop the tears. I wailed. It was like my soul crying out to God, "Help me!" Days after, I started getting the same symptoms of grief that I got days after my mom passed away. I started coughing so much, to the point of vomiting. Every morning, I'd wake up nauseous and dry heaving. I was already dreading New Year's Eve, because every single year, we would spend it with my mom and some of my family. New Year's Day, I would just spend it with Mom. Madelene usually works that day, but this year, she thought it was important to stay home. Surprisingly, our New Year's was so incredibly fun and peaceful! I cook eggplant parm, crab cakes, pigs in a blanket, salads and little goodies like my mom used to do. We had champagne and celebrated 2018 coming in. I was "okay." I felt very at peace. Then I realized, that my prolonged grief was not only selfish, but it was making me sick too.

And then I went and prayed and found this scripture in Sirach 37:16-23.

"When someone dies, you should mourn. Weep and wail to show how deeply you feel the loss. Prepare the body in the proper way, and be present at the burial. Weep bitterly and passionately: observe the proper period of mourning for the person. Mourn for a whole day or maybe two, to keep people from talking, but then pull yourself together and reconcile yourself to the loss. Grief can undermine your health and even lead to your own death. Grief lingers on after the death of a loved one, but it is not wise to let it lead you into poverty. Don't lose yourself in sorrow; drive it away. Remember that we must all die sometime. There is no way to bring the dead person back. All your sorrow does them no good and it hurts you. Don't forget that. You will die, just as they did. Today it was their turn, tomorrow it will be yours. When the dead have been laid to rest, let the memory of them fade. Once they are gone, take courage."

Look up, "broken heart syndrome." You can literally get sick and even die from prolonged grief.

At first, this passage may sound a little heartless or perhaps a little more direct than one would prefer, but nonetheless, it's true. I think about all of the wonderful years I had with my mother -- 43 wonderful years, and the last couple of years was hard, because I had to watch her suffer so terribly. But I was lucky enough to be 43 and not 10 or 15 or 25 years old. I don't know how I would've managed being so young and losing a parent. I noticed I was letting myself slip into this awful funk. I was sick all the time, and caught a horrible flu and bronchitis. It compromised my immunity and I didn't get better until recently! I was hospitalized numerous times due to my asthma triggers. My intense grief made me sick.

Another aspect of grieving that consumed me was isolating myself from the world. It's the worst thing you can do while grieving. I know they say that there's no right or wrong way to grieve, but isolating yourself could put you into a depression you can't get out of. Let people help you. Let others come over. Distractions is not the same thing as denial. Distractions are a beautiful way to balance your emotions. So I started letting friends in, letting them stay, have dinner, sleep over, and I also started going out more. It felt really good. I'm on my 6th month of the loss of my mother, and I am feeling hopeful. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I will have my moments and cry -- I almost didn't make it to my sister's Christmas Eve party -- but I HAD to, because I WANTED to, and I know Mom would've wanted me to as well.

Life is for the living. Through prayer and meditation, I'm beginning to find out that this is the message God has been giving me, whether through scripture or some other sign. He speaks to us in various and mysterious ways. It's up to us to be more conscious of it. So my New Year's resolution is to celebrate Mom's legacy, make those around me happy and spend quality time with them, and to let those who have passed, pass....and not in a heartless way, but to let go, because before Mom died, I told her, "It's okay to let go, Mom...I'll be okay."  And now she's telling me the same.

Let go...

Focus on those who are still alive and with you.

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! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well!