I was on a psychological emotional roller coaster through hell.
What does that mean exactly?
How can I begin to prepare someone for this?
My mom was tough but loving, and boisterous. Her presence in anyone's life was honored, felt, and will be cherished for as long as they live.
Let's start with seeing my mom grieve the loss of her husband, my Dad. That was painful. I never saw my mom beaten down like that. I had never lost someone that was my partner in life for fifty plus years, so even I didn't fully understand. My Dad’s health had been deteriorating for a few years and that was difficult to watch. When I overheard him say to my mom, “I don't want to be a burden, don't put me on life support next time.” I had to choke back my tears.
I tried my damndest to be there for my mom. Luckily I was single, so I was able to rush home from work and do what I could to keep her company. I was no replacement for her husband but at least I was there.
Seven months later my mom had a pain in her side that had reached the point where she had tears in her eyes when she tried to get up from her chair one night. I think I almost stopped breathing that day. My whole body tightened and stayed that way for the months to come.
I'm talking about a woman who had her appendix burst inside her, she was that tough when it came to physical illness, and pain. So, when this issue with her side appeared everything in me knew it was going to be bad. I remember saying to her.” There's nothing I can do, you have to see a doctor.” Something you'd never normally hear me say because I've been battling m.d.’s for years regarding fibromyalgia. But this pain in her side was something I knew I didn't have the answer for.
My instincts were right. The next few months involved a failed gallstone operation that revealed tumors that were biopsied and that procedure released cancer into my mother's bloodstream which caused her to spend the rest of her living days nauseous and vomiting day and night for three months. She went from a tough vibrant boss at Tim Hortons, and my vacation partner to being violently ill every minute of her life, after that liver biopsy.
I couldn't help her. I couldn't find anyone to help ease her condition, it just worsened and the accumulating symptoms tore down the toughest, most honest, hard working, caring, giving person I'll ever know.
I didn't even know how to process the fact I was going to lose my mom in that short period of time nevermind trying to work, find a cure or at least some relief for her. All while having to cope with hearing her vomit nonstop which broke my heart and soul. I was hysterical inside and a zombie on the outside. I didn't have to worry about dieting for once in my life lol.
I felt like I was in a real life horror film with a tragic ending. And that was just the beginning.
The aftershock of my new reality, being on this planet without my parents gave me post traumatic stress.
I had gone from coming home to two people who loved me unconditionally to an empty home. Then I lost my home, and the few friends I had disappeared. It was like they wanted to make my life even worse. I had no one. I started drinking to help my mind bridge the gap between my old reality and my new. I needed to turn my brain off every few nights just to cope. I couldn't just sit there by myself trying to accept that both my parents were gone forever and for some reason I had no one.
What had I done to deserve that?
Was I that terrible?
Are questions that come to mind often. But really those thoughts were nothing compared to trying to deal with grief and the rollercoaster of emotion that put me on. I was surrounded by people at work who could care less and their heartless comments certainly didn't help:
“That was like so three months ago, everyone's moved on.”
“Most people move on from their parents. Weren't they just old and a burden.”
“I lost my best friend in high school. It was hard but life goes on.”
My reply to the last one was, “How about if you lost your husband and children tomorrow. The people you go home to everyday and spend your time with, the people you live with and love. Do you think you would still be able to just move on with life especially if you had to deal with all of this on your own?”
I'm tired of trying to find the words that make people understand what it's like. If you're reading this it's an attempt to either prepare you for loss or to open your mind to understanding someone else's.
We are bombarded on social media by comments that it's entirely up to us to create the life we want. Our destiny is in our own hands. If you don't have the life you want it's all your fault. I have to call bullshit on that. Because I've done and tried everything in my power to change my circumstances.
We all want to feel important to another human being, to matter, to share our life with someone. Who doesn't want memories? When I was thrust into this solo life it was paralyzing. I find it hard to believe people create memorable moments and a memorable life completely on their own without any interaction from other human beings. This isn't something I can do, and I can’t magically go change, remedy or fix it, you simply can't will people into your life. When you no longer matter to any living person, what's the point in being here? That's what I found myself struggling with daily before my parents died but even more so once they were gone. I realized Wow the time for me to feel happy was when my parents were here. At least I had them.
How do you find a purpose?
I read and read books that provided a clear picture of my flaws. It was hard to have a mirror held to my mistakes and take the blame for my own bad behavior but I knew I could work on those things and I would rather be a person aware of negative attributes than an ignorant soul who thinks they're better than they are or someone they are not. I started pouring my heartache out on a blog creating discussions and awareness in people who followed me. They became my support system and it helped but that emptiness and void of real human contact was difficult to wake up to as the years passed by.
“Why am I alive why am I living,” is a sentence my mom used to sing, oddly enough the memory of hearing her voice say that makes me smile.
After decades of diligence trying to find love, friendship, or success that produced little results I've come to accept I have to have Faith and fully believe that is the answer to my prayers.
I must put aside my fear, doubt, and anger. I must have Faith that God is real and I'm here as proof that if you have a relationship with him he wants nothing but the best for you and you will start to see the miracles he has in store the minute you commit to that belief.
I read a book by Joseph Benner, it answered all the questions I'd had about my life. If you've truly tried everything to improve your situation and haven’t seen results, I highly recommend this book.
Right in the middle of reading it the second time while I was struggling to figure out how to differentiate between my voice in my head and the guidance I'm asking to receive from a higher consciousness I met a woman who lives a life constantly receiving messages and guidance from God. She was the first person I 100% believed had seen miracles in her lifetime.
This Faith gives me hope that the twenty year groundhog day I've been living is coming to an end. That all the work I’m doing on myself is going to attract great things into my life. There is no end to learning about my petty habits, they don't just disappear but at least I'm becoming more aware of them when they pop up and I'm making a conscious choice to be a better person.
There is no end to grief. The intensity of it comes and goes and the periods that you feel somewhat stable get longer in between the bouts of sadness. You probably won't ever be who you were before you experienced a great loss but with help and the commitment to dig deep for personal strength you can survive. Maybe you can even find a new way to appreciate the next great person who walks into your life.