Some people cry when watching a film, reading a book, seeing someone else crying or even watching cute cat videos. Not me. I don’t cry easily. At times, I have wondered if I’m just an insensitive so and so as I have been in situations where everyone around me is crying and I am just there with my dignity intact. I might appear to be in control of such moments, but in fact, I’m in so much pain that my emotions just get bloated inside. Yes, I meant bloated because that’s what it feels like. With my parents’ illnesses and the loss of my mother, I have been constipated with my emotions for a long time. And that is the worst feeling; when you cry, you release the suffering and feel lighter afterward. For a year I have been so heavy with all the emotions and pain inside me, an immense sadness that I can not put into words.
Until last week I had not cried for my mother’s loss and I have felt weird about it, maybe even guilty. I see other people crying – my daughter, my sisters, cousins and friends – and I think, “what’s wrong with me?”. Let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with me – I know that now! After much writing, reading, therapy and self-search, I realised that I have been in a grieving process for a long time. It started when I found out about my father’s cancer, continued with seeing my parents becoming old and frail and the realisation that they wouldn’t be here forever. While my mother was in the hospital, I was consumed with worry about their future or my father’s future without my mother to care for him. I am a worrier and that is one of the biggest enemies of staying in the moment. I don’t think I was ‘in the moment’ when my mother died or even while she was in intensive care. All that time I was in the near future, anticipating my father’s difficulty in coping on his own and the burden that it all would be for my younger sister, plus feeling guilty for not being able to be there to help due to living in a different country.
I went through the funeral preparation, funeral, packing up my mother’s belongings with my brain somewhere else all the time, a deep sadness was there constantly but I was too busy to deal with it – this is called denial. My worry was my way of postponing my grief. While I was worrying, I didn’t have to accept the fact that my mother wasn’t here and that I was never going to hear the sound of her voice or her wise advice and her long and very detailed account of events. I still find myself thinking of things I want to tell her next time I speak to her as if the phone is going to ring and it’ll be my mother.
Although there were positives in all of this, my mother had a beautiful send-off. She was very religious and part of the Neocatecumenal Way for over thirty years, so her mass and funeral were truly beautiful and I got great comfort in knowing that it made her soul very happy. This is the importance of rituals during bereavement and grieving, a theme that deserves another blog post of its own. My mother was a good Christian in the real sense of Christianity and she was very well loved and seeing so many people praying with us and offering help and support during that time was such a warm comfort. I will never forget that we had lunch and dinner cared for every day during that time. And there is always someone to look out for my father and help my sister. I know it is not always easy, but my father is coping better than I anticipated and my sister is doing better than well. So all my worry was nothing but a waste of time and energy, what a surprise!
Every time I look at one of the various photos of my mother I have around the house, I feel deep sadness; but last week I look at one of these and I missed her so much. For the first time, I cried the loss of my mother. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I miss her so much and there is so much I want to share with her and so much that I relied on her for. This is the hardest part for me, learning to live without the person you lost when that person has been there for you for the most part of your life.