It’s taken a really really long time, but I’m finally back among the living.
After my Mom died (it’s still SO hard to write those words or to believe them), life was very very dark. I couldn’t grasp that she was really gone.
I can’t tell you how despondent I was — such feelings of remorse and guilt for all the worry I had caused her. As the “hard-headed” baby of the family, she worried about me a lot. I wasn’t there for most of her golden years because I lived out of state for a long time before moving back here in 2003. Why did I do that? How could I have taken her for granted? The list was endless.
Guilt is Death’s Companion
Then I discovered that guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death. When a loved one dies, feelings of guilt are normal. I didn’t know that, did you?
I found out that regardless of how or why our loved one died, we sift through the evidence of past behavior, giving ourselves reasons to be miserable. We become tormented by our own perceived failures, omissions, poor judgment, or unwise choices.
We all do and say things we later regret. When a loved one has died we are reminded of those hurts and failings, real or imagined, of words we regret saying, incidents we’d like to forget, actions we’d like to take back. We consider every possible action that we could have taken or not taken to prevent the death.
But the fact is, very few of us have a legitimate reason for feeling any significant guilt at all. And these self-inflicted emotional wounds plunge us even further into despair. What we’re really feeling is a lack of control over what happened. And accepting that we have little control over the lives of those we love is a difficult thing indeed.
It took a lot of reading about death and guilt and grief for me to get it. I found a couple of articles that really helped on HealingHeart.net and Grief.com. I realized that guilt, depression, anger, denial, all of those are part of the grieving process.
It’s Okay to Live Again
I started to feel a bit better. Then I felt bad about feeling better — did that mean I was losing her? No. How long we grieve or how deeply we hurt does not reflect how much we loved someone. If I give up wallowing in pain, I’m not going to lose her. The fact that I allow myself to live life doesn’t mean that I love her any less. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten her. Not even close.
One thing I know for sure — she would not want me to drown in grief and depression, and would be very upset with me. She’d be like “C’mon girl, get up and do something!”
A couple years ago we were on the way home from visiting my sister’s grave and we talked about death. She said she hated the thought of leaving us, and you could tell she was thinking about it, she knew it was coming. I told her that she wasn’t going anywhere, and when she did I was going with her. She said no, you have to stay here and take care of those children. That is what she wanted. Not Sharon under the covers.
Gradually I learned to focus on all the wonderful times we had together during her last years. Every weekend we went through her email and posted updates to her Facebook. She loved technology. We talked about our favorite football team and watched games together. Yes, she knew football and got me hooked on it growing up. Our daily texts back and forth, nightly phone calls. I can look back at those times now and smile instead of cry.
It’s now been almost 8 months and I think I’ve come to grips with it. Yes, she’s gone, physically — I have to accept that.
But she’s still here in so many ways, her legacy and spirit lives on in her family and friends, especially in her grandchildren. How she loved the triplets!
Speaking of which, Isaiah, Mariah & Sierra graduated from high school! She would have been so proud, we definitely felt her spirit beaming down from heaven.
Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers.
Above all, thank you Momma, your baby girl loves you!