Monday, March 30, 2009

A Timeline for Grief

Why is that people somehow think that after enough time has gone by I’ll be fine? I see it in K’s eyes. I hear it in the questions he’s not asking me and underneath those he does ask. He wants to know when he’ll get his wife back. He’s asking me for reassurance that things will be ok again. I can’t give that to him and he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand that I will never be the same. How could I possibly be?

Do I think that I will heal? Yes. Do I think that in time, the pain will lessen? Yes. But will I ever be the same?

My world has been shattered. I’m 31 years old and I’ve lost my mother. My mother was 60. She didn’t die of a prolonged illness. She wasn’t killed in a car wreck. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get time to prepare. I think that anytime you lose a parent, a mother, especially when you’re close, it’s hard. Really, really hard. But when you lose someone suddenly – it adds another dimension of difficulty. When someone is sick and you know that they are going to die, you do part of your grieving beforehand. When it’s sudden, you have to do it all at once. And when someone takes their own life, there are so many, many questions left unanswered. Most of the time, the question is “Why?” “Why? Why? Why?”

I know why. Even though I’m still asking that question, I do know why. She was in pain. And she thought she would never get better. She felt trapped by her pain. She felt hopeless. But it wasn’t true. She would have gotten better. She had gotten better before.

Much more than “Why?” – my question is “how?” How could she have done it? How could she have gotten so bad, so quickly? How could she have let herself think those things and not sought help? How could she have promised me that she would never try to kill herself again, and then go and do it? I asked her. I asked her! She told me – “I’ve thought about it. And emotionally, I’m in a much better place than before. I wouldn’t do that.” How can someone say those words - be so rational, so calm, so assuring one day and then kill herself a week later?

I don’t believe she was lying to me when she said it. I think she believed her promise, or at least wanted to believe it. I continue to believe that she wasn’t choosing to die. She was choosing to end her pain. She wasn’t thinking about the long-term consequences of her death, of what it would do to us, of what she would be missing out on – she was only thinking about the short-term solution of ending the pain. She was desperate and crazed and in this state, suicide made sense. To her. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Death doesn’t make sense to me. It’s too final. Too real. How could it possibly be real? How is it possible that my mom, my beautiful, wonderful mom is gone? That I’ll never see her again. Never talk to her again. She’ll never take me shopping again. Never dote on Jonah again. Never read to him again. I’ll never see her smile, hear her laugh. I can barely stand it.

How could I possibly be the same? How could I possibly be ok?

How would you be?


Anonymous said...

It's been a few weeks......and hubby is wondering when he'll get his wife back. Oh boy. I think you're right when you say you'll never be the same.....of course you won't. And that's okay. I also think you're right that you're going to heal...eventually....not this instant. I wish I had words that would make you go, "Ah-HA! Now I'm not sad anymore!" (where's my magic wand?) This pain is's unimaginable....and the only positive thing is that it will eventually get better. It will. Hugs to you and your family.

hope548 said...

I can't imagine how horrible you must feel. Part of you is missing, and it must be so hard with all the questions running around in your head. Just like in infertility, people who haven't been through this can't completely understand it. I hope your husband and those around you will just support you and love you while you're grieving and trying to heal.

Alexicographer said...

I'm so sorry about your mom.

While I don't think there is, or can be, or should be, a timeline for grief ... certainly I cannot imagine that if there were a time by which you'd expect to "feel better" it would be less than a year. (Indeed Miss Manners (yes, I checked) assures us that it was normal/appropriate to be in "deep mourning," meaning no social engagements, etc., for a year after a family member's (untimely) death, and for mourning to continue, though with fewer restrictions/formalities, for a year or two beyond that.).

I'm sorry this is so painful. But I cannot imagine it would be anything but, just a few weeks out. I hope your DH will manage to grasp that ... I can imagine mine being the same way, unfortunately. So many men don't deal well with problems they cannot fix.