Saturday, May 26, 2012

Griefwalking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Mother died four months ago today and I did my best to not remember, but sometimes the body remembers what the mind strives to forget.  I woke up anxious and sad and have been that way all day, despite my best attempts to not focus, or even think about, it as an anniversary. My mind tried to block it, but the cells of my being are griefwalking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Well-meaning people have wondered why I'm not better yet and I try to tell them that yes, I am better.   I am coping.  I am doing.  I am accomplishing.  I am functioning. I'm just not all better and ready to leap joyfully into the next stage of life.

I'm still griefwalking.

It's not just mother's death.  It's a lot of things that all came together in one crashing crescendo with her passing.

First, it was the years of caregiving, which had begun to take their toll on me physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. In the eight or so months before her actual passing, I was growing increasingly fragile and so, when her death happened, it wasn't like I was in top form, at the pinnacle of my very best self.  The blow came when I was already stretched and strained.

Second, elder care is crushingly expensive.  By the time mother died, it was costing around $6000/month for her care.  Allowing her to be in her own space, surrounded by her own things, and loved unto death was invaluable, but the stress of finances, coupled with the fact that I was spending so much of my time and energy caring for her that my own financial situation was becoming precarious, hasn't helped the grief process.  In the past four months, I've had to sort out her financial situation, figure out how to pay her final expenses and now, begin to try to plan to provide for myself. Perhaps I should be looking at this as an exciting new challenge, but right this second it all feels draining, not energizing and stimulating.

Third, while it's still enwrapped in our legal system and I'm not free to share all the details, immediately after her death, I learned that she had been robbed on a massive scale by someone she considered a dear and trusted friend.  So as well as dealing with my own griefwalk, I'm now involved in criminal prosecutions on a federal level against someone I thought I knew well.  Someone who even attended her funeral. Someone who betrayed her...and me...while feigning friendship and caring. Needless to say, that has added its own level of stress these past months.

Fourth, it's Memorial Day weekend, and there is a great emphasis on remembering those who have passed. The anniversary of my father's death was last weekend, with all that entailed, and now I am reminded again, by every flag and flower, that death has been permeating my life these past months.

Finally, after 14 years of caregiving, her death wasn't just her passing, but also the passing of what I have known as "normal" since my son left for college.  Now, truly, I am experiencing an empty nest on many levels--and finding myself regrieving things that I thought I had dealt with years before.  Apparently, I hadn't completely resolved them, because they have come back, showing up in the mirror of my life, leaving me feeling rudderless and lost much of the time.

So today, I'm struggling.  Tears dangle on my lashes and needles of pain pierce my heart. Every cell of my body weeps.

But in the midst of the griefwalk, I remind myself that I have survived the past four months. I have dealt with many issues. I have not been crushed or destroyed.

And I remind myself, too, that God uses all things for good, including the times we find ourselves stumbling one more day through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

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