Saturday was my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 87. It is my third birthday without her being here to celebrate with. Mom had decided that her cat Pixie would celebrate her birthday on July 6th also. I suspect Pixie is probably about a month older but it made my Mom happy so I celebrated the little scamp's eighth birthday Saturday.
A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room. We meet every Monday evening. Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you. Share whatever you need to share. We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
When I lost my Dad suddenly in 1999 I actually had someone start a conversation three weeks after his death with “I don't know where you are in the grieving process but…” and then proceed to tell me where he thought I should be. I was furious. No he didn't know where I was in the grieving process. He had never experienced loss so how could he? He was a computer programmer and believed that I should be able to live my life like a computer program where everything is neatly spelled out in code. Life isn't like that.
When I lost my Mom, whom I was caregiver for, the place I worked at felt that three days was sufficient time for me to grieve for her and then I needed to be back at work. When I lost my brother suddenly no one in the town thought I should grieve and no one sent a single sympathy card to me. I lost Merlin, my companion of 15 years, on April 10th and have been told he was just a cat and when am I going to get another one?
The thing about grief is it is not a formula. It is not a one size fits all. Grief is very personal. It depends on the person. It depends on your relationship with the deceased. It depends on things others may know nothing about.
With my Dad I didn't have a chance to come to grips with his death because he was planting a bush and keeled over and was dead before he hit the ground. I was not prepared. Our conversations were about my coming out there and how he would teach me about what he was doing with the family genealogy. I have never had a sense of closure with him.
With my Mom I was her caregiver and knew she was living on borrowed time. Her death wasn't a shock but it doesn't mean it didn't hurt. I spent a few minutes with her before they took her away and was able to say goodbye. I had said, "I love you" to her the night before she died.
With my brother Mike it was a total shock. I was down in North Carolina getting things ready so he could move down here to be near his only child and her children. Suddenly he was gone and I had a hellacious mess to clean up because of him. I go between being glad he no longer suffers the horror of Vietnam and being furious with him that he didn't let me know there were serious problems and he needed me up there.
Merlin was an old cat and was losing weight fast. They found a tumor in his stomach the size of a softball. He was suffering. I had to let him go. I knew I couldn't keep him forever but I got him when he was 4 weeks old. I miss him terribly.
Grief is a raw spot where someone you love has been torn from you. It never completely goes away. In time the pain feels less intense but still it will flare up at unexpected times. I found some genealogy information my Dad didn’t have and I wanted so bad to call him and tell him. I wanted to wish Mom happy birthday Saturday and give her an original art piece featuring her beloved kitty, Pixie. I want to be able to tell Mike about how well his grandchildren are doing. I wanted to hold Merlin as I watched Independence Day on the fourth.
Everyone has the right to grieve and everyone will grieve differently. Some will try and find another partner some will not. When my Dad died I knew Mom would never marry again. If Mom had preceded Dad I knew he would because he really couldn't stand being alone. For some their partner has made them promise to go on with their life and find someone to share the rest of their life with. For some their are children involved who need a second parent. For some it is impossible for them to live by themselves. I doesn't mean that they are not grieving for the one they lost.
I try to go on the best I can without the wisdom from my parents. I try to carry on and be a substitute for my niece and her children for the father she lost and the grandpa her children loved. I dream about Merlin frequently. Pixie and I are not ready for another cat in the family. Maybe in time but it isn't right for us now.
It is important to remember that with grieving what is right for one person may not be right for someone else. We must all grieve in our own way. What we must do for others who are grieving is let them know that we are there for them if they need us and we love them and we care about them. We cannot grieve for others but we can be there to support them as they grieve in the way that is right for them.