Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Loose Ends Tied: Part 2

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More odds and ends encountered before, during and after my mother’s death last week.

My sister is still in town and staying at my mother’s condo. I called there yesterday looking for my sister and was sort of taken aback when the answering machine picked up and heard my mother’s voice.

It was my experience during my mother’s stay in the hospital that RNs are more “book smart” than the LPNs but the LPNs are more down to earth and more likely to level with you.

It was breast cancer that got my mom. Cancer terrorizes every family in this nation yet we squander hundreds of billions of dollars on useless foreign adventurism rather than using that money to fight a real enemy. I know wars are far more fun, make good TV and give us a chance to show that we are more patriotic than out neighbor but couldn’t we decide to get our priorities straight.

WWMD. While making funeral plans after mom died we (the kids) would sometimes hit a point of disagreement or at least uncertainty as to what to do. When those instances arose, we would simply ask WWMD –What Would Mom Do. The solution became very clear after playing the WWMD card.

I realize now that my grieving began as soon as it became apparent mom wasn’t going to recover this time. By the time of the funeral the worst of the grieving process was over for me. However, it was hard to look on friends at the funeral who were teary-eyed. I suddenly felt bad for them because they were now hurting to some degree too.

Which leads me to a related thought: it seemed odd to me to be getting sympathies from mom’s friends. I mean, they were deeply saddened by her loss too, right? There might be some degree of difference in the loss felt but not much. If I were to lose a close friend I’m not sure I could say it would feel “better” than losing my mother. Shouldn’t I be offering my condolences to mom’s friends?

More later

1 comment:

jeromeprophet said...

When my father died, I was shocked to see people kneeling at this casket while crying. I didn't even know these people. They were people he knew through work.

"Your father was a great man." I heard this over, and over from total strangers. I even heard it many years later from people who knew my father - people of different backgrounds.

It left me to wonder just who my father really was. Just as you said you were suprised by all the people revealing that they felt your mother was a second mother to them - sometimes we only learn about these things until a person has passed.

When my mother died a fine young man, who never knew my mother, and was at her funeral only because he was a friend of my brothers, was nearly in tears as he tried to console me. He said that he knew what I was going through because he had just lost his mother (a year or two earlier).

I'm sure his grief for his mother was unresolved, and attending my mother's funeral brought up feelings of grief related to his own mother's passing.

While I don't totally understand grief, I do know the pain over losing one's parent doesn't end before, during or even immediately after the funeral.

Your mother's death brought back a tide of sadness in me which I had thought I had resolved pertaining to my own mother's death.

This is not to say I didn't feel pain at the loss of your mother, who had been an important part of my life since I was small, but I was suprised over the level of pain at losing another person I had grown up with. It overwhelmed me. A mother once again had left me.

There is a certain aspect of denial in grieving, it is a very powerful method of coping. We fill our lives with so many responsibilities, so may activities that it tends to crowd out the quiet moments.

But it isn't necessarily the quiet moments which betray us to grief, as it comes in the most unexpected moments as well. Hearing yourself say an expression which you know came from your mother might trigger it, or passing by your old neighborhood might do it. It sneaks up in a thousand ways, and it reminds you that you cared deeply for this person who brought you into this world.

It's not a bad thing, but a good thing for it shows you are not a sociopath - that you loved someone who loved you. It's what makes you vulnerable, but also shows your humanity, and your strength.

We'll never live forever, but it would be nice to stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.

One day, and it might be in a hundred years, most of the forms of cancer will have very successful treatments - the people of that time will look back at us, and wonder why we wasted so much time, and money on less important persuits - especially when we were so darned close.

JP