Walking into Mom's funeral service was the worst day of my life. I tried to stay inside the room where everyone gathered, but my chest started to hurt and I found it hard to breathe. I walked over to the secondary little living room area and had myself a real "ugly cry." I couldn't go back in there. I know all of my friends came by to pay their respects and send their condolences to me, which was so nice of them, but I had to hide. They understood, thankfully. As time went by, the room was packed with me and all of my friends and my in laws. They stayed with me. They knew I couldn't bear to go out there any longer. I did go back out into the hallway, but I just couldn't be in that room. No. I can't. I couldn't handle it. I would've had a heart attack.
|Our precious cargo on our way to the shore!|
I'll never forget what Mom said to me.
"This was the best Mother's Day of my life!"
Whenever I would wake up, I would walk downstairs to her area and sit with her. We both stared out into the ocean and had our coffee together. Sometimes, her pain would get to her, so she would lay down and wait for the pain medication to kick in as she nodded off. I stayed with her until she fell asleep. She would always fall asleep facing the ocean. She looked like a sweet angel sleeping. I would pray while she slept, hoping that this vacation would heal her. There had to be some way Mom could get better. I couldn't lose my best friend -- my vacation buddy. I never wanted to go without her! She made it fun! She had her own little routine and it was so incredibly adorable. At night, I would sit with her in her bedroom and we would talk for an hour or so before she went to sleep. She'd play with my dog Lola and even had a little nightcap with me.
|Mom & I sharing a glass of wine before bedtime.|
Here are some short video clips from Instagram.
So where was I before I started talking about our awesome trip to the shore? Ah, the funeral. I will say this... The days after a loved one's funeral makes it "official" -- your loved one is gone forever. It's nothing like seeing them for the last time in the hospital. This somehow was different for me. It was the funeral that sparked the initial intense grieving process. I'm already afflicted with GAD - generalized anxiety disorder. When someone who has anxiety disorder goes through the stages of mourning, the anxiety can heighten a great deal. I started to develop all these new phobias and habits. I had to go back on my regular dosage of Ativan to keep me calm, but one day, I missed a dose and it sent me into a whirlwind of withdrawals like I've never seen before. The first day of a benzodiazepine withdrawal is heightened anxiety attacks, heart palpitations and twitches. If it reaches day 2 -- it can go into complete seizures. I didn't even realize I had forgotten to take the morning dosage because my mind was in a fog. Madelene was really concerned because she has never seen me this extreme before. I was shaking and crying -- I didn't know how to help myself. I had to stop drinking due to my stomach bleeding, so I thought something was terribly wrong with me -- as most anxiety sufferers do. They start in with their hypochondria and then the mind races to the worst case scenario. It wasn't too long before I started to say, "I wanna go home with Mom." And I meant it with every fiber of my being. Later that night, I took my nightly dosage of Ativan, and realized on my phone in the notes section where I log in the times of when I take the medicine...there was no morning dose. Not even 10 minutes later, I was calm as a clam.
Here's the thing with anxiety disorder: it. cannot. be. fixed. The only thing that can be done is developing a good and strong coping mechanism. I have tried every single antidepressant out there, however all the SSRI's that I have tried increased my anxiety where I started having strange jolts and small mini seizures. My doctor informed me that some people with anxiety disorder are "sensitive" to SSRI's which is why they tend to go for the anti-anxiety meds, like Ativan, Xanax or Klonopin. People don't seem to realize that an anti-DEPRESSANT is not meant for someone with ANXIETY disorder. Big pharma used the tactic of, "Well, anxiety and depression go hand in hand." Yeah, maybe, but if the person is more of a high strung anxiety-ridden chihuahua, you might wanna throw them a benzo! I was actually invited to speak about this topic on the Dr. Oz show. I graciously declined, because I didn't want to inform people who truly need the medication who are not sensitive to it. I was afraid that there would be people who have mental illness that would reject any help given. If you're an avid reader of mine, you remember that story and how badly I wanted to go on his panel. You can read more about it here.
Grief itself can bring on anxiety and depression, even if the person never had an issue with it before. It can also trigger PTSD in some people. There's also complicated grief, which is basically someone never getting over their loved one and not moving on. My whole thought on people like me who suffer with anxiety, especially when a tragic loss occurs like mine is this: never judge the way somebody grieves. If they ask you for help, either say yes or no, but never make that person feel bad about coming to you. If you're going to say, "Oh I'll always be here for you," then do so, or don't ever let those words come out of your mouth. Giving unsolicited advice is overstepping one's boundaries. Make sure the advice is asked for, not some sermon on what you did to get better or how you would handle it. Just be an ear and or just be present. As long as they see a professional, you do not have to act like one for them. The worst thing to say to someone who suffers with anxiety disorder is, "You gotta do this." because in most cases, they've already tried this that and the other thing. You're just doing more damage, and potentially ruining whatever relationship you have left with that person. They may not ever want to communicate with you again, in fear of being humiliated or judged.
Losing a loved one can make you lose your mind. The heaviness of the loss itself changes you into a different person, possibly with different views on life. What I've come to realize is that nobody can tell somebody how to grieve or how long you 'should' grieve for. This is a personal journey which should be respected. When people make fun of you because you have a cross to bear, like dealing with anxiety or depression, it can wreak havoc on your psyche, making you think that you're batshit crazy. But remember, the people who put you down saying you're "not grieving right" or that "you're out of control" are the ones who have either never experienced a loss like this, or those who are still in the anger phase of their own grieving period. Don't allow anyone to make you a target of their unresolved anger.
But I digress. I can honestly say that I have zero regrets with Mom. We did everything we wanted to do. She was my vacation buddy and I was more than honored to be with her on Mother's Day just to spoil her rotten! I'm so glad my other sisters came down to share the most amazing day with us. When I think back on a good memory, that day comes to mind because it was as if Mom wasn't sick at all! She had a fairly good day. My prayers were answered. It was like the most beautiful 'send off' -- a tribute to the most amazing woman of my life.
I'm so thankful Mom decided to take that trip.
Thank you, Mom.
Love you, love you, as we used to always say.
We'll get to watch another sunset together one day. I know it. But for now, thank you for all the wonderful memories you have given me.