My older sister left to go back home today. She has been staying with me since my mom was moved to critical care which was several weeks ago. It was a strange feeling watching her car pull out of my driveway. I felt completely untethered for the first time since my mom passed away on Tuesday and it was unnerving to say the least. I mean I was alone during the first part of my mom’s hospitalization but then I knew she was still there, you know? This knowing that she’s not coming back, that my life as a caregiver is over, is just daunting. I took care of her full time for 12 years and part-time for 8 years before that. I’ve lived this life for 20 years and now it’s just over. I have no idea what kind of person I am without that. Looking around the house for the first time I just felt numb thinking of everything I have to do. Going through my mom’s things and getting organized to find a job and everything else that I haven’t thought of yet. That is what is going to get me through this. Keeping busy and moving forward to a life I know my mom would have wanted me to have. It’s up to me to see this through and my mom gave me every tool I need to see it come to fruition. Will I have rough days? You bet I will. I realize the magnitude of what has happened hasn’t even begun to hit me yet and, to be honest, I’m kind of scared of what will happen when it does. I just have to focus on handling things as they come. One day at a time and not worry about what might happen in the future. Because being untethered doesn’t mean I’m just drifting aimlessly about, it means I have control over what direction my life takes and, with my mom’s spirit guiding me, I know I’m going to find the path I was meant to take.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of with grief, which will be one powerful emotion that will fill some of the empty space for a time (and possibly surprise you by showing up much later). No rush to “get over it” or “put closure on it” – those things are done in the living of your life on no particular schedule. Don’t fear grief showing up – it is an expression of love for those we can’t hug or otherwise share affection with in our conventional ways. Grieving is actually the sign of a good heart. When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” he says that the mourning itself – the capacity to have our hearts moved in that painful way – is necessary on finding the path of life worth taking.