Recovering from grief…or do we?

I’ve been away from posting for a long time. I take this as a positive sign of my recovery from grieving. But, do we ever fully recover?

Sure, I know grief is personal and subjective and everyone handles it differently; there is no right or wrong way. Everyone has their own timetable and needs to find their new normal.

But now and then those triggers pop up. Just when you think you have things under control – BOOM! – you see or read something that sets you back. This has happened to me a couple of times post-recovery. I try to avoid articles on dementia and Alzheimer’s because an uneasiness comes over me but at the same time, they draw me in; they’re so compelling. So, I’ll scan over them. Some are upsetting to me because I find myself second-guessing my care, reflecting on “should I have done this or that”, “why was I impatient at times….she couldn’t help it”, and the like.

Such an article, and a beautiful one, written by Dan Gasby set off that trigger recently. He is the husband and care partner to supermodel, restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef, and nationally known lifestyle expert  B. Smith, who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s,

The loss of my mother is still relatively new. In February it will be four years. I was depressed for the first 2 1/2 of those years during which I had a daughter and a son get married and welcomed two beautiful grandsons into our family; I now have a third due in a couple of months. Most days are good. When I think of my mother now I think of happy and fun times. I’m not bogged down by those deepest feelings of loss. That is a sign of recovery. I believe I have found my new normal.

Still, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her or miss her.

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Hitting Milestones

It is now 15 1/2 months since mom’s passing. Along the way I have made progress and have had some setbacks in the grief process. This is expected.

Thoughts of mom still flood my mind while I’m driving. Perhaps because it’s alone and quiet time for me. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I go over choices made and not made. This Monday morning quarterbacking always enters the picture and plagues me but not to the extent it has in the past. That’s progress.

Another bit of progress is that M. and I finally hooked up mom’s big flat screen TV – the TV she asked for shortly after Thanksgiving 2011, saying she needed a bigger screen. It is a very nice TV but it was too personal for me at the time to use it. Maybe because she barely got to enjoy it herself and I didn’t feel right about “enjoying” it. Whatever the reason, I’m OK now about it now.

Along the way my daughters have quietly been observing my progress or lack thereof.Case in point: A couple of weeks ago one of them asked if I had lost weight because the walking shorts I was wearing looked a little large. I replied, “No, they’re are nana’s.”

Well, that sent them rolling with laughter. “Mom!” D. declared. “You were doing so well. I think you’re regressing.” I countered that they just have to be taken in a little at the waist and was wearing a belt. I thought they looked fine.

Yes, I like to keep mom close to me be it with her clothes, her jewelry, pieces of her furniture, her paintings, and most importantly, thoughts of her.

That can never be taken from me.

Omens

Tomorrow marks nine months since mom’s passing. I think I have slowly been receiving omens that it’s time for me to move on.

I have a tendency to latch on to things. I’m very sentimental and particularly so when these things belonged to mom.

First, the basket I used in the ladies room at the museum for D’s wedding went missing. No one can find it. It really wasn’t anything special except that it was mom’s.

Then I lost my keys a couple of weeks ago. I was using mom’s Eiffel Tower key chain since she moved here in 2007. I lost the keys/key chain because I had to separate it from my car key since I was turning in my leased car. I’m still looking for it.

I almost had the urge last week to go to mom’s favorite discount clothing store. This was the first time since last fall that the thought even crossed my mind but I still couldn’t do it.

I did indulge in a canister of one of mom’s favorite cookies that I’ve had for months since cleaning out her apartment. No, it wasn’t her beloved Pepperidge Farm Milanos but the brand’s Pirouttes rolled wafer cookies. I had eyed them for a while in the cabinet and I finally caved. And while eating one after another I could hear mom telling me to stop eating them.

As we come to mom’s unveiling the day after Thanksgiving, our first Thanksgiving without her,  I think I’ve been getting signals that I need to move on. And I know I must, and I know I have come a long, long way in my grieving process, but…

It’s just so hard. I miss her so.

Packing it up, part 1

This post has been stop and go for two weeks.

As I head into my fifth month without mom I feel as though some healing has begun. And yes, I feel a little guilty about starting to actually feel that way. But I think it’s a normal feeling.

Other than my usual Pilates class on Saturday mornings, I stayed  home the entire day. It was way too hot to be running errands. That was saved for Sunday, an equally hot day and our first day to reach 100-degrees!

On Saturday, while M. was at a Rangers baseball game, I decided it was time, time to bag mom’s clothes as I looked into the room with Charlie laying on the clothes. It was bittersweet as I gently refolded items that Charlie messed up from laying on and hiding his chews between and underneath. All said, I unearthed 4 chews! I also managed to pick up an additional couple of clothing items for myself.

Mom LOVED to shop, and her collection quite proved it – 5 bags worth, not counting shoes – with a little left over for a 6th bag.

As I folded the clothes and placed them into the bag I intermittently put an item up to my nose to breathe in her scent.

It was still there.