About a month ago, I started to attend a Grief Share class at our church. The group is small, less than a dozen people and each in a different stage of grief. For some it’s a spouse, for some a parent. For some it’s been several years and for others, like me, only a couple of months.
The class first started barely a month after the loss of my Mom. I considered going, but at the time I didn’t feel like I really needed it. I was sad, of course, but otherwise I felt like I was doing okay. I was busy with home, work and other projects, and I seemed to be handling everything alright. So I declined. But just a few weeks later, I noticed I was getting forgetful. I couldn’t concentrate and often couldn’t think of words or finish a sentence. I started having mild mood swings – happy one moment, sad the next. I found myself getting aggravated over the smallest of things. At times I felt isolated and other times, like there was too much going on around me. I felt like it was important for everyone around me, especially my family, to see I was okay. Yet I didn’t feel like I had a release for what I was feeling. When I really started to feel the weight of everything going on, I decided it was time to check out the group.
As we approach the last class of this session, I can see how much I’ve learned already about understanding the grief process, how to better relate to people and situations and how people can each grieve differently. Hearing other’s talk about what they’ve gone through and the feelings they’ve experienced has also helped me along my way. I’m not sure how I’ll be feeling in another few months, but I’ve already decided to attend the next session when it starts in the fall!
One of the recommended activities of Grief Share is to write a “Grief Letter”. It’s intended as a way to share your feelings with your family and friends – what you’ve experienced, how you’re feeling, what people might expect from you and what you may need from them. I had a hard time with this activity, because to me it seemed a little selfish, and might seem like I was just looking for sympathy. Yet as I started thinking it through, I realized how much I’d closed myself off from people and how it has not helped my healing process to remain so isolated with my feelings.
While a few of my posts have discussed different issues I’ve been working through these past couple of months, I thought I would use this post to share the grief letter I’ve been working on. While it has some therapeutic value to me, it is meant to help explain to those around me, and important to me, how I’m truly doing and why they may notice different things in my behavior recently. So here it goes…
Dear Friends and Family,
It has been 3 months since my Mom passed away. I could never have imagined the range of emotions that I would experience over that timeframe. Just when I think I’m doing ok, I find myself in more pain than when we first lost her.
Those initial weeks were filled with a swirl of activity – planning the funeral, notifications and trying to help my Dad get organized and figure out what life without Mom was going to look like. My two sisters, who live closer to Dad, have ended up providing the bulk of the support that he has needed, but I try to do as much as I can from a longer distance. I’ve dealt with feelings of guilt and sadness over not being able to be there or to help in a more tangible way.
I have good days and bad days with my emotions. If you ask how I’m doing, and I say “I’m fine”, that usually means I’m not having a good day. It’s been hard to share that there are days when I’m just not handling things well. I used to be so strong, and lately I find myself having issues dealing with even the smallest of things. So it’s easier to say I’m fine, than to talk about the fact that sometimes I’m not. I cry in private and talk a lot to God. Then I put on a brave face and go about my day. The good days do come though. In fact last weekend, as I sat and watched the boats on the lake, I realized I felt good – happy even! It took me a while to accept that it was ok to be happy, and so I embrace those days when they come!
If I’ve seemed distant, please understand it’s just a process I need to work through. Please don’t feel like you can’t reach out to me. Sometimes it’s not about what you say or do, it’s just about knowing that you are there. I’m so thankful to those who have really made an effort with me – it has made such an impact! Please keep me and my family in your prayers, as we still have much to deal with, on top of trying to work through our grief. And please don’t give up on me, because I know I’ll be back to myself at some point.
My Mom was a loving and caring person. She was my protector when I was young and she became my friend as we aged. I have many great memories of her to keep in my heart, and am comforted to know that while she has left this earth, she is just beginning her eternal life and I will see her again at some point.
Thank you for your prayers and your kind and concerned thoughts for my family over the past 3 months. Thank you for reading this letter and for your understanding. It means the world to me and is a great comfort! I pray that God will use this pain to teach me something about myself or to help me grow in some way. Maybe I can use what I’m going through to be a blessing to someone else in their time of need. For now, I’m just taking it one day and one step at a time!