Death, Grief & Freedom
Now you may be wondering what death, grief and freedom all have in common, well, I’m gonna tell you. A tale of my personal experience with the three.
In the last eleven months I’ve dealt with the death of both my parents. I’ve talked about death a few times on the blog. How it can be sobering. How everyone deals differently.
“Death is unavoidable”
Death can be a touchy subject for some. No one is truly ready to have the conversation, but it’s so important. I’ve noticed that folks just don’t live as long as they used to. How soon should you have the conversation? As soon as possible! Life insurance, a living trust, your final wishes. The same way you plan your life, is the same way you should plan your death.
Grief - deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death.
"she was overcome with grief"
Grief comes in waves and has no expiration date. Grief is not linear. There are good days, and then there are days when the weight of grief feels like carrying bags of sand treading through thick mud. Losing both my parents in eleven months, grief and I have become well acquainted.
The wound of losing my parents is still very fresh, so grief is very much present, but the loss of my mother hits different! There are days I wake up, grab my phone to call her only to realize I can’t. I listen to old voicemails just to hear her voice. There’s now a gaping hole in my heart. Some days I’m sad. Some days I’m angry. Some days I’m in a fog. Some days grief breaks through the barriers of my antidepressants. Ten days from diagnosis to death.
Here is how I’ve dealt with grief - - I wake up daily and I give myself grace. On the days I don’t feel strong, I don’t pretend to be. I allow myself to feel whatever emotions come up, then I move on. Antidepressants. Prayer. It’s work!
⚠️ Possible Trigger Warning
This part of the blog is dedicated to the caregiver. The one that is there, day in and day out, supporting a sick loved one. If you’ve kept up with me, then you know that I was the one there physically caring for both my mom and dad. Yes, there was a village, but a big part of the responsibility fell on me.
So now we talk about what’s linked to the grief. For me, after my father passed I was devastated. I was sad, but I also felt a sense of relief once he died. For him, a relief from the suffering, and for myself a relief from the responsibility of being THE GO-TO. Prior to my father’s death, I experienced a nervous breakdown. A breakdown hat led to multiple trips to the ER, and multiple tests that all linked back to stress. This was because I felt obligated to be there, day in and day out. It was because it’s what was expected of me. It was because I was the first phone call my mother made anytime something went wrong.
I was on-call 24 hours a day. I felt like a prisoner, and speaking from a “family” perspective, how many of you have heard, “we all we got”. “That’s what you do for family” I believe in some families, there is an unspoken expectation when it comes to parents and what’s expected of their children. I’ve experienced this my entire life. So when my father died, I exhaled. With that feeling of freedom, also came guilt, but I muddled my way through it.
Now, while I had a glimpse of freedom it was short lived. My mother’s official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s came shortly after my fathers death. I was a prisoner all over again. Now please understand, helping my parents was both a labor of love AND a hardship.
“Just for clarity, this is MY journey.“
I was again the 24/7 GO-TO, but this time, I refused to have a mental breakdown, so I asked for help. Shout out to my sister, her husband and my niece. While I again was the first phone call, this time there was help.
When my mother took her last breath, a piece of me died with her. As I’m writing this, I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s really gone. The freedom though…after I said my last goodbye, I felt released. Again that feeling was accompanied with guilt, but I had to tell myself that it was okay to feel both sad and free.
I left nothing unsaid. I did everything that I could. I made them feel loved. I made sure that their last days were filled with happiness. I was blessed with the gift of time prior to both their deaths, and for that, I’m forever grateful.