If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be putting intense emotions into paper (or blog page) for my first ever post for 2021 – I would have made a face and not believed you. This is because I usually separate intense emotions from my posts and usually keep the personal aspect to a minimum.
I preferred logical and rational.
I preferred objective and straightforward.
But there is nothing logical or rational with the things that I am feeling right now. There is no straightforward way to get past something as big and heavy as this. Yet, I feel like this is something that I have to write and talk about. I feel like grief is something that should be discussed more. It should be not shoved aside just because it is awkward and painful to dissect.
In my case, grief felt like a splash of ice cold water – paralyzing, and yet I can feel its effects on every fiber of my mourning being.
But I digress.
My mother died in early January and my whole world was jarred. To describe the relationship that I had with my mother would take up a whole entire post.
Let’s just say that she was first and foremost, my mother, who eventually transitioned to becoming a confidante and best friend through the years. She was the person I would always trade stories with, regardless if they made sense or not. Her heartbeat was my first music; her smile, my first memory. Being her daughter was easy, being her friend was a blessing.
MOURNING is a complicated process and it’s not the same for everyone. The way I mourn my mother is not the same way my sister or my father does. I have to say that it is largely dependent on how we are affected by the loss and how we are placed in the current situation. In my case, since I am the one here in the Ph, I was the one designated to take care of it all – from the hospital to the funeral home, to getting documents taken care of, to having the wake, scheduling the burial and getting Mama settled in her final resting place. All the nitty gritty in taking care of the dead fell upon my shoulders.
Even if you want to, as much as you want to – you just can’t shut down. Ironically, it’s a time to keep a clearer head. There will be decisions, there will be options. And you can’t just tune out. In my case, I didn’t have the luxury to navigate and understand my emotions right away because there were a lot of responsibilities to face first.
I stand 5 feet and 5inches tall but this loss made me feel like my body is too small to accommodate everything that I was feeling.
I had to sort through my emotions and place on the forefront what will be most beneficial for me and the people around me. I had to learn to acknowledge the pain but to not dwell in it. I had to embrace the sadness but not drown in it. It was as complicated as it was beneficial. I knew in my heart that if I were to be functional and sane after this loss, the first thing I had to learn to navigate was my emotions.
My mother died on a Wednesday, buried her on a Saturday and by Monday – I returned to work. I was told to stay put, to rest and to allow myself to mourn but I knew myself and I knew that the best way for me to start picking up the pieces was to get back to my routine. I have to welcome back the normalcy I once had. Things will never be the same but I have to give myself the familiarity of a work schedule for me to gain some footing back.
No hard bargaining or heavy cryfest can bring the dead back. And you have no choice but to get up and LIVE. You owe it to your departed loved one to live a life that he/she can be proud of, to live a life that will and can keep her memories and legacy alive.
I can only attest to what I’m feeling 2 months after losing my mother and I may need to revisit this statement on a later date. Right now, no two days are the same. Some days are easier while others can be a struggle to deal with. Sometimes, it feels like a sharp, stabbing kind of pain while on other days, it just feels like a dull, remote ache. At the moment, I feel as though the pain is an extension of me that sprouted on that day my mother passed away. And it’s not something that I can just turn off anytime. It’s something that I have to learn to live with from now on.
Everyone who has lost someone desires to be healed emotionally. We all want that, we all crave that. But the road to emotional healing is a rocky one. It’s not something that can be achieved by just wanting it. We have to will our whole being to actually heal. Healing can be dependent on a lot of internal and external factors. In my case, I have to actually want it. And I have to put in the work. The daily mental battle becomes easier because I am willing my mind and heart to heal and cope. Because of the pandemic, I cannot just go out and go somewhere to unwind and recharge anytime I want to. I have to cope with the current limitations while navigating what will be best for my entire well-being.
During the first few days of losing my mother (and even until now), I was very selective of who I will talk to, who I will respond to and interact with – online and offline. I feel like the menial task of talking or responding to a DM requires a humongous amount of effort and emotional willpower. I had to be selective of the people I will let in and make sure that they won’t further aggravate my emotional turmoil. Despite everything, there were still people who cared, let me cry, let me vent out and just listened and allowed me to be. And these are the people that you should surround yourself with in the immediate aftermath of a loss. Because the kind of people you surround yourself with will also factor in on how well you can acclimate back to life after loss.
I don’t mean to say this in such a gloomy way but if you do decide to hide or ignore grief, let me stop you right there. Grief is this pesky kid who wants to follow you wherever you go. Grief is this itch that just won’t go away. And the ironic thing is that it makes its presence known on very random occasions. To block it would be the more exhausting thing to do. So I have learned to embrace it, be consumed by it but at the same time, I am also learning how to be able to step back and put a distance between grief and I when the need comes for me to step back.
Immediately after I posted a photo of my mom’s burial on social media, private messages came in waves. However, I was particularly touched and inspired by the number of people who messaged me and shared their own stories of losses. I felt such a connection even if I’m not particularly close with a lot of them. For them to revisit their pain just so they could somehow bring me comfort and love is something that I will be forever grateful for. Loss can feel alienating and at times, you feel so isolated and disconnected to everyone else around you. This is why it is so important to be able to communicate and connect with people who understand what you are going through.