Dec. 20 2011
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True Grief and How I Dealt With It

True grief is something I’d never felt until about a month ago. I had never lost someone close to me. When I was a child, I tried imagining my grandmother dying… I cried but it was just the imagery, not the situation. In all honesty, I thought I was immune to losing someone like that. Not me… Not with my perfect life where everything seems to go my way no matter what…

Around 8:00 at night on a Saturday, my mother Sharon passed away suddenly of heart failure as she was getting out of her bathtub at the young age of 46. When I walked into the room to see her body around 9, I felt true grief. Until that moment, I still clung to one last hope she was still alive since no one had told me to the contrary… It hit me like a car running into a concrete barrier at full speed: my world stopped. All in that same moment I realized she’d never see me graduate college or open my first business or live my life. More importantly: I realized I’d never see her live her life. It was the single most powerful moment I’ve ever experience. That moment can’t be replicated in your mind, it’s too primal.

After a few minutes of touching my mom’s corpse, crying, and watching my family cry, I needed to get away. To begin dealing with my grief, my world needed to start moving again.

Logic, Logic, Logic

In emergency situations, I turn to logic—it’s almost eerie how Vulcan I become. Logic will give me the answer I need to sort out my problems, solve everyone else’s, and come to a “big picture” resolution. And my mother was the same way. For this situation, I turned to logic to get my world turning again: mom passed away, it’s happened, and there’s nothing I can do to change it. After about 20 minutes, I was back on my feet.

From there, it was logical step after logical step. Baby steps first and then progressing onward to big boy steps.

For me, logic dictated I take over my mother’s duties as manager of household. That’s what I began working on immediately… I went through loads of paperwork: sorting and organizing. I also took over the gritty duties of making my mom’s final arrangements in accordance to a loose leaf paper she left for me atop her chest of drawers. The only time emotion became burdensome was when I couldn’t perform those duties verbatim.

During this time, I felt very little in terms of “appropriate” emotions like sorrow. I wasn’t numb because I still felt joy and happiness. I wasn’t bottling it up because I couldn’t feel that pressure. I just didn’t have any. I believe I actually prevented them from occurring. From time to time, an outburst of tears would happen triggered by this or that. Never during those outbursts did I feel those “appropriate” emotions, they were simply  releases of rapid built up emotional static. This actually caused a lot of internal turmoil for me because it isolated me from everyone else. I’m the only one who didn’t cry all the time. I even got dirty looks from the Sunday school ladies!

As time has gone on, I’ve loosened my logic grip on myself, but I still have a long way to go.

Contrasting my grief through others

In contrast to my own grief, I want to share a few other experiences from my point of view…

My grandmother has always been a deeply emotional person with a huge and incredibly kind heart (her and mom shared this quality). Despite losing parents, siblings, and close friends, losing her child (her youngest daughter) broke her down. Every time she saw my mom’s corpse, she would begin crying with a deep and sorrowful primitive natural howl then would lose the ability to control her motor skills. It was incredibly sad to watch, I could only hold her and cry with her.

My dad is very sensitive to changes in his emotion. Anything that throws him off kilter can have dramatic effect on his psyche. My father was also deeply and truly in love my mother. Not only that, he was entirely dependent on her. Spoiled is a word we use to joke about the dependency, but it’s really more than that. He took mom’s death especially hard for all those reasons. Dad is also very sentimental. Right now, he won’t even watch movies he and mom shared.

Regrettably, I neglected my grandfather a lot during all this. I believe this happened because he dealt with it like I did. He returned to his normal day-to-day life quickly. I rarely saw him cry. Actually, I think I’ll talk to him when I’m up there this week…

 

The point of this post is primarily to reflect upon this traumatic experience. But it’s also to remind readers about how every person deals with situations like this differently. Remember: just because someone doesn’t cry doesn’t mean they aren’t having a bad time. In situations like this, a spare hug is always welcome.

 

Logan

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Dedicated to my mom, Sharon. May she rest peacefully.
Love you always. (March 23, 1965 - November 12, 2011)

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