Oct 2, 2018

Posted by in Life & Musings | 0 Comments

Grief: A Process

After losing my mother suddenly, it’s been a time of uncertainty to say the least. No one talks about losing a loved one, and they certainly don’t talk about how it affects them and everything that goes along with it. Like many other things in our culture, it’s something that really should be openly spoken about, and isn’t. If it were, it might be a bit easier to process because then you’d be at least a tiny bit more prepared for the roller coaster of emotions you’ve been forced to ride.

The process of grief will be different for everyone, but I wanted to share mine. Partially because I think it ought to be talked about, and partially because it helps me. I’m the kind of person that hates to keep things bottled up, but I’m not good at just up and talking to someone. So writing, or in this case blogging, is a perfect outlet.

Right after my mother passed, I was very upset. I did a lot of crying for the first week, and then the tears stopped. Part of me definitely wondered if I was somehow grieving wrong, but alas, that’s not even possible. It took me a bit to realize I had entered the ultra-depressed and numb stage very, very quickly. The only bonus was that for a small time, I was hyper-focused and really able to step-up and be there for my father, who needed me.

The problem with the numb stage, at least for me, was that it gave me a false sense that I was somehow coping with the loss well, and had already hit the healing stage. While I was healing, albeit slowly, I certainly wasn’t coping. Bless my closest friend Gwen for gently reminding me of that in our conversations, and keeping me aware that what I thought was happening wasn’t really happening.

It’s different for everyone, but for me the numb stage lasted a long time. Almost a month and a half, if I did my math right. I mean, I had moments of emotion inside that stage, it’s not like I felt nothing, but I certainly wasn’t really processing what had happened. I was more-or-less just going through the motions to keep myself distracted from the truth.

This would be noted as certain activities were difficult for me. The most notable ones being dealing with my mother’s business, and going to a Steam Powered Giraffe concert.

As far as my mother’s business is concerned, at first my father and I were thinking we would keep it. This was probably the one thing we did that was obviously because we’re clinging to whatever we can of her’s, and this business was her everything. My mother basically lived for this business the last decade of her life, at least. Her entire waking life seemed to be consumed by it, and thankfully, for the most part, she loved it. Her father started the company, and it was her one and only full-time job ever. She worked for him, and eventually took it over. Before she passed, the business was already in decline and my father and I were trying to convince her to let it go and enjoy the last bit of her life doing whatever it was she wanted to. It’s a small regret of mine that she never got that, but I don’t think it truly bothered her. Since she did love the business so, my father and I definitely wanted to keep it going… at first. It didn’t take long though for it to become more and more difficult to walk through those doors, and be in that office, to the point that we both started to avoid it. That’s no way to run a business, and about a month after her passing we made the decision to close it. It finally dawned on us that the only reason we were holding onto the business was because it was hers. Neither of us had the drive, ambition, or knowledge to run the business; we just didn’t want to let go of another part of mom. Regardless, we had wanted mom to let go of the business, so why would we keep it ourselves? So the decision was made to let it go, and that has been a relief, and a problem all of its own (shutting a business down is messy and a nightmare folks).

Not long after we decided to shutdown the business, I went to The Enchanted City with my fiance, Peter. It’s a small steampunk festival in Troy, NY, and we had been plenty of times before. Each year it grows a bit, but for the most part it’s the same each year. For this reason we don’t go very often, to help preserve the magic (and also, we’re very busy most summers). This year however, Steam Powered Giraffe was coming, and back in March 2018 (when I found out), Peter had gotten us VIP tickets to go to both the meet and greet and the concert the evening after The Enchanted City. I was so excited, and mom was definitely a bit jealous (though far more excited for me). I had introduced mom to Steam Powered Giraffe, and she really enjoyed their music, too. I had been toying with getting her a ticket to at least see the concert, since they were going to be so close, but that opportunity never came since she passed away before I could set that plan in motion. Being at the concert was amazing, as we had front-row-center seats, but even that excitement didn’t stop me from crying. Mom’s favorite song was Honeybee, and they did perform it and I cried through the whole thing. I tried to sing along regardless, but it was not easy. The other song that really got me was I’ll Rust With You, which is about growing old together and just general dynamics of togetherness. Both just hit me right in the heartstrings. I’m still glad I went, and the concert was amazing, but it definitely hit me hard.

These two items reminded me through my numb phase that I was still very much grieving, and to take the healing slow, not to rush it. The true turning point for me though was Mabon, which is a Wiccan holiday that occurs on the Autumn Equinox. On this day I decided to finally bury the candles I had burned for my mother with the flowers I had kept from her services. So Peter and I went graveside to do so, because the correct place (so said my heart) was with her. It was the first time I had been graveside since everything, and it was emotional, to say the least. I didn’t ball my eyes out, but it was certainly somber. Mabon is the celebration of thanks to the God, as he gives the last of his life to the earth so that our final harvest may be a good one, ensuring we’ll have what we need to make it through the winter. At this time, the Goddess is rising in her power, and it’s a day of perfect balance. So for me, who wanted to bring balance back to my own life that was anything but after all this, it was the right time.

After completing the ritual, I have been far more emotional and far less numb about everything. The healing seems to have started again, and the emotions have returned to processing. This being the case, there’s something else that has become very poignant that I wish I had known about prior to mom’s death, that makes it hard to accept and seem so very surreal, even still.


I didn’t realize how many habits I have that surrounded my mother, but they are plentiful, and they are constantly reminding me of how different life is without her. A reminder of all the changes that have been made, or are to come.

Every time I have a question about something concerning her office, my instinct is to pick up the phone and call.

Every time I’m not at the office, or when I am going if I am running late, I’m waiting for the text chastising me for not being more diligent (I’m far more focused on my career as an LMT).

Whenever something exciting happens, I want to pick up the phone and call her to tell her about it.

When I stop by my parents’ house, I always enter and say hello, and I still expect to hear her respond.

Peter and I were out shopping this past weekend, and we stopped at a store that specializes in wares for your kitchen. Looking at the deviled-egg platters was a reminder that mom would not be calling this year, last-minute asking me to make them for Easter. In fact, she won’t be asking me to cover any holiday menus at all anymore.

I usually need to do a Christmas list, starting about now, but without mom is it even necessary? I’ve made a list for over 20 years, and this year it might not happen.

I’ve been creating new artwork, and I always showed it off to my mother, but she’s not hear to enjoy it with me anymore.

There are gifts she gave me that I’ve yet to use, like some nail stamps, and when I do use them I’m going to want to show her, but I cannot.

When I am depressed, and lonely, I think back to how hard my mother worked when this happened when I was young, and I realize I won’t have that comforting that only my mother could offer. Her advice, that I relied on, never to be spoken again.

There are just so many things, so many habits that are simultaneously beautiful memories and painful reminders that she is not here anymore. This, THIS is truly what makes the grieving process so hard. It’s not activities that remind me of her, it’s the habits that surround her. It’s everything that I have to consciously change because she’s not here anymore to be a key element in those habits.

No one tells you about how hard this is. You expect grieving to be like in some Hollywood film or in a Lifetime movie. It’s really not. It’s surreal, and the memories are so vivid that it makes it even harder to accept the reality of the situation. 

I suspect the next hurdle will be the holidays. Her birthday is right around Thanksgiving, so I am certain that this year November and December are going to be brutal. I suspect it will be a very long winter, too.

At the end of the day though, nothing is going to bring my mother back. All I can do is continue to move forward, and not waste the life she gave me. I will forever cherish the memories I have of her, and someday the tears won’t flow as readily. Right now though, I have to remember to be gentle with myself, because healing doesn’t happen overnight. Time will make it easier, but there’s no saying how much time I’ll need, and I cannot rush it. No one can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *