Intense Grief During the Holidays

The edginess creeped in as the holidays approached. I tried my best to put on a happy face and enjoy 'the living,' as suggested, but I kept seeing flickers of past Christmases when Mom and Dad were still alive. It's not only Christmas that does it, but New Year's Eve too. It was a huge event for us, even till the very end. I started to shut the door more, closing people out, curling up into a ball to try and not feel as much, but anxiety crept in, as well as the intense pain of my grief. Am I depressed? Am I lonely? Am I scared? I don't even know what I feel right now. I delved into my work, to only find myself gasping for air and noticing how empty and cold the house was. It wasn't too long until I finally realized how long it's been since I even left the house. I made all types of excuses, like "Why should I? It's too cold. It's too crowded. I have nothing to purchase." I don't feel like bothering with people. I'm not sure if I would call it agoraphobia so much. I think I'm going through a small bout of depression. I just don't like anything 'out there' anymore. I can go, but I'm not even interested.

Maybe I don't trust people anymore. I have had way too many "friends" take advantage of me. For whatever reason, everybody and their mother thinks I'm some sort of millionaire. They're always waiting for some kind of handout. The 'me me me' people have been pushed away, as I slowly climb back into my safe cocoon. Life is much different since mom died. My best conversations was with my mom. We'd talk for hours and every night, we'd have dinner together. It got tough at the end, watching her decline and suffer with this horrendous beast of an illness. I always felt this overwhelming sense of guilt when she was ill. If I wanted to just go out to dinner for a couple of hours with my partner, somehow, in the back of my mind, I felt I would get in trouble for leaving Mom alone, even though the restaurant was right down the street. I never wanted to leave her alone and tried my best not to. Even when I used to go to the local farm markets with my dog, I'd bring Mom so she could get a little sunshine, even if she sat inside the car with the door open, while smoking her e-cigarette.

We weren't living at all. Soon enough it became an issue of, 'how much more pain medication does she need' instead of hoping for the tumor to shrink. No more good reports of remission, just a terminal sentence...a painful waiting period of 'what if'---more like, 'when.'  I went into anticipatory grief, trying to muffle the sounds of my own dreadful sobbing. But Mom caught me crying and knew why I was so sad. I didn't want to scare her with news she already knew. How will I live without my best friend? What will I do now? How can I manage or cope? I'm a big girl now, but but but... I still need my mama.

I was watching this weird apocalyptic movie where this woman was dying in her dilapidated cabin. Her daughter was taking care of her, hoping she would somehow make it through. But her mom said, "Live your life. I'm dying so that you can live." I started to feel that lump in my throat, trying not to cry. And then a few days later, another movie said the same thing: "I'm dying so you can live." And a day after that, I heard a sermon talking about Jesus, saying, "I died so that you could live." I know what it means, but I'm not "living" yet, Mom. I'm trying my hardest to work with this new life---this "new normal" or whatever they call it. When does it get easier? I honestly think she was the only person in the world who truly knew me inside and out. Now what?

Many times I think to myself, "Will I die from a broken heart?" And as I was tying this, a mama bird came right up to a branch near my office window with a big piece of food--maybe a worm or some kind of slug to bring back for her babies back. Then it landed right onto my balcony and stared right into my window. It was like my mom giving me some sort of sign or a "hello."  Last night, while I was sleeping, I felt someone's breath on my ear and say something---but I couldn't make out what it was, but I felt the air on my ear and how it tickled. I woke up and kept saying, "What? What?" So then, I decided to make a bathroom run, and right when I got to the corner of my bedroom, my guitar strummed a tune by itself. Yes, you can reread that sentence. I stopped right in my tracks and just stared at it. Earlier, I was playing a song I wrote for my mother. It was powerful. Somehow, that guitar played itself at 4am.

Coincidences? Who knows.

Even as God stripped away my desire to drink alcohol (which I prayed for)---my sleep has definitely improved. But now, with the anxiety and grief creeping back in, I could sure use a drink. It's been three months since I stopped drinking like a fish. My sleep has improved, but my anxiety has remained. But then I get a reminder...

"I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." --John 14:27

I'd like to think that I'm that somebody who would go out on a limb to help anyone who needs it. I will feed you, give you a place to stay and even give you my own clothes if you need---but as soon as I need someone or something, as soon as I reach out for help, there's nobody there for me. I'm not looking for any sympathy, and I'm not having a pity party for one here, I'm just stating facts. I'm all alone in this. I can feel my body shutting down somewhat. My heart races out of control, palpitations jolting me out of a deep sleep like a hot kernel, and days when I feel like I just can't go on. And all I can hear is the silence of the mountains around me, and the chaos within my own head, crying, screaming for help.

Bear with me as I try and get through this crinkle in life. Therapists say that grief has no time limits or rules, but I don't want to lose myself either. I'm just feeling a whole lotta sadness right now. I feel extremely lonely, yet I'm not pressing to be around anyone either. Hopefully, I will wake up from this dense fog and finally see the sunshine that's been beating down on me this whole time. In the meantime, I'm here. I'm still alive. Somewhat.

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