No Grief is Greater Than Another
Sometimes I worry when I get too upset over the loss of my mother. I already have anxiety and depression, so this just magnifies it, to where I find myself wishing I was running through the sunflower fields with her as I saw in one of my dreams. It was beautiful. We ran so lightly -- we were weightless, yet we were able to stay grounded. We were holding hands and running through each path the sunflowers made for us. I laughed as I cupped a bumble bee inside the palm of my hands. "Ma! Look! I'm not afraid of bees anymore!" She smiled and said, "That's because there's no pain or physical reactions here!" We ran further into the field, until we came to a clearing of beautiful grass. It looked so manicured. There were people sitting around a beautiful small bonfire. It was then I recognized my dad sitting on an old lawn chair. He was surrounded by my grandmother and some of my other relatives who have passed on earlier. They were eating food and drinking fancy cocktails. As we ran over there, I looked beyond the grassy field and it looked like Ireland -- rolling hills that went on forever with a sunset. "Don't worry, it doesn't get dark here," my dad said. "The sun just keeps going back and forth --- so we get a sunrise, a midday sun and a sunset. Enjoy it my baby." And then my dream ended. I woke up and wanted to go back! How could I get back there? I didn't want to wake up and start another day here in my physical body.
Every now and then, when I'm in deep thought about Mom or writing in my grief journal, I get a one ring from a number that says, "Ma" on the caller ID. I mean, I know that it's probably some telemarketer or collector of some sort, but this happens when my heart is aching for her to be here. She lets me know in so many ways she's here. I have never had so much faith as I do today because of her visitations as well as her coming into my dreams and showing me around her paradise. I didn't get this much interaction with Dad, although he did make a few visits in my dreams with some terrific messages. The one I can't forget is when I was focusing way too much on how he died, and the torturous process of dying in hospice. He kept telling me to stop it -- stop thinking about that! And then when I went to sleep, he came to me in a dream. He was standing by a big window and I stood all the way across the room from him. He said, "Debbie! Ya' gotta stop dat'!!! Stop thinking about that terrible stuff I went through!" He reached inside his pocket and said, "Here, remember this." As he pulled out a rainbow from his pocket, he threw it across the room as it sparkled when it was traveling toward me. When it hit me, they turned into beautiful memories of every Christmas we ever spent together, fishing together on the beach, vacations, laughing till our ribs hurt, and even a hug he had given me before he died. It was like my life flashing before me -- but all the good stuff -- none of the bad stuff. I took that sparkly rainbow with me and I stopped obsessing over the pain and agony he went through. I learned from him, this way I don't overthink Mom's suffering when she was dying. I think of all the good things, especially her laugh. I miss her laugh so much!
If there is anything I have learned from losing both my parents from cancer, it's this...
- Learn to focus on all of the good times you have ever spent with them. Focus in on their laughter.
- When you're having a crying episode, let it happen. But also be open to a visitation from your loved one. They're holding you as you cry -- I promise you this.
- Life does go on without them, no matter how much you wish they were here with us. Love everyone who is in your life and willing to be with you right now.
- Don't worship their belongings. It's not bad to save a shirt or some sort of jewelry, but don't make their room or a bunch of things they owned a shrine. It'll prolong your grieving.
- Celebrate their life. Cook something they used to cook, or cook their favorite meal. Have one of their favorite cocktails and cheers to them. They'll be right there with you.
- When special dates, like the anniversary of their passing or their birthday comes along, celebrate them instead of making it a dreadful day. It's hard! I know! But try.
- Create new traditions on holidays. Don't try to recreate what they did. If you want to do something similar, put your own spin on it.
- Treat yourself. If you're having a depressing day and can't shake off the blues, go out and get a massage or pedicure. Don't skimp. It's OKAY to be good to yourself.
- Be careful with support groups, especially ones online. Too many depressing stories can overwhelm you. It may be a trigger. Attend in small doses.
As I'm still trying to wiggle my way around these stages of grief, I'm happy to share with those who can relate with me on various levels. Some people have come to me who lost a parent, a spouse or a child. Some lost loved ones who were young, while others lost those who were old. In my opinion, it doesn't matter how old they were, if you loved them with your heart and soul, no grief is greater than another. It's terrible to lose a child or a loved one who was younger, but never downgrade what others go through who have lost someone older. The love is still there -- we share a level of sadness that's beyond our understanding. Be kind, compassionate and understanding to those you 'feel' haven't lost as much as you did. Just understand where they're coming from.
If I can emphasize on any of my messages in my blogs to you, it's this: their soul lives on! Death is not the end! Believe. I cannot believe all of the visitations and communication I have had with my mom. You can call me crazy for believing this -- but there were wayyyy too many coincidences for this to be considered "all in your head" -- it's just amazing. So remember, when you're sad, remember that they are close by comforting you in some way, most likely holding you as you cry. This has been my experience. I hope this helps.
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!