My mom died. I have said that out loud to myself several times a day for the past several days because it doesn't seem real. I will probably continue to say it to myself for the next few weeks, maybe even years. I don't know.
Grief has been a wild ride. It has taken me by surprise. I'm a planner by nature, I'm pretty sure it's in my DNA right next to my hair and eye color. Grief doesn't have time or respect for my plans. It overwhelms you at unexpected moments. Washing your hair? It's a good time for grief to hit. Ordering food in a restaurant? Perfect. How about when you are all alone? Or when you are surrounded by people? Yep..that works too. Middle of the night? Sure!
I was arrogant and naive when it came to grief. I thought since my mom's health had been failing for the last 4 years and that the different conditions she suffered from were all things that modern medicine cannot "fix", I thought my practical brain was prepared. It's coming. Mom is going to leave this life and go on to the next. Honestly? I even asked that God would end her suffering and take her home. Death is part of life. It's the natural order. It's all very logical, practical, understandable. Such arrogance. Naivete.
Just because you know it's coming. Just because you've "planned" and prepared for the event, grief spares no one. You cannot slide through it. You just have to walk through it, embrace it, feel it. There are no shortcuts. No easy route. And it's different for each person and now having my eyes opened, I have a feeling it will be different for each person you lose.
I have no words of wisdom. I'm still processing. But I believe life is about sharing our stories with others, so while the emotions are raw and real and before I overthink it, I thought I would share.
And because I'm practical and a planner I thought I'd also share the things that were most helpful this week:
1. Prayer. Please never underestimate the power of prayer. I know there were people praying for me all this week because I felt them. Because as overwhelmed as I was, I was able to make decisions, be there for family, and move through the grief process without despairing. So if you were one of those people who prayed, I can never thank you enough.
2. Food. Food is helpful to a grieving person because although it seems like a small decision to make--"what are we going to eat?" becomes one more decision that seems impossible when you are going through something like this. Practically speaking-- the best foods are quick, can easily be reheated, and if possible--favorites of the family. Other ideas when it comes to food to keep in mind: disposable containers, disposable plates/utensils etc, contacting other friends to coordinate efforts so there isn't too much food (is that a real thing? haha), and obviously dietary restrictions.
3. Presence. If left to my own devices I would have told all of my friends to stay away. Because that is how I am. I would have thought I wanted to be alone. But luckily, my friends dropped by to drop off food and made themselves available if I wanted them to stay. And crazy enough? I did want them to stay. I just needed them for a little while to share the story of what I just went through, what I was going to have to go through. There was nothing for them to say or do--they just listened. But I needed that. So offer your presence to your closest friends, but be ready for that presence to be rejected and take the rejection without insult and try again at another time.
4. Sympathy. Social media is so great for this very thing. It takes just a few seconds to acknowledge someone's thoughts and give them validation that what they said was "heard". And what I love most about social media is that you can respond when you have the time and the person who receives it reads it at the time it's convenient for them! What a blessing in our crazy busy world! I appreciate everyone who took the time to simply say "sorry for your loss". There is nothing more you can say, but you validate the fact that I posted I was hurting, you heard it, and responded to it.
So thank you friends for loving on me in these various ways this week. You are loved and appreciated. And in answer to the question "what do I need?" I don't know what I need to continue this process. The things I know I "need" are not things that are tangible for others to give me--for life to go back to "normal", for my heart not to hurt, to not burst out crying at random times, sleep, for it to "all be better". So I just ask that you would pray and ask God what He thinks I need and then be obedient. Some days it may be "give her space" or it may be "send her a note" or "drop by and just give her a hug". Because what I need will probably change day to day and He has proven this week to know what I need even better than me!