Learning to Grieve

In the last two weeks I have learned a few things about grieving, which I’d thought I’d already known,  but have found these 5 especially surprising:

  • Just because you don’t see me crying doesn’t mean that I’m not completely heartbroken broken, it simply means I’m working hard to not let the pain rule the entire world. I’m allowed to enjoy moments even though overall I’m sadder than I’ve ever imagined possible. Please don’t make it worse by judging my worthiness of a moment of relief
  • Sometimes the stupidest things make me well up, while things I’d have expected to make me cry won’t
  • How physically painful grief is
  • That being home it’s the hardest of all. There are more things I want to talk to you about when I’m home vs when I’m anywhere else. This adds to the difficulty for me right now, since I’m a homebody by nature
  • Hugs are everything. Even when they’re from people who I’m not especially close

Dear Mom (6)

Dear Mom,

You’ve been gone for nine days now. And overall I think I’m doing okay with this immense change in life.
But there are times when I’m totally overwhelmed with the sense of loss.

And I’m sad, but not mad or angry. Which is a bit surprising since I am sure that you chose to die earlier rather than doing the things that would have allowed you to live almost another year, mostly comfortably. But I can’t be mad at you when I’m certain I would have taken the same route under those circumstances.

My biggest struggle is the (oh-so-common) times when I just want to call and talk with you, it might be for advice, to see if you heard the most recent family gossip, it might be to hear someone take my side or it might be just to giggle with my bestie.
And at those moments I realize that I have never felt so very alone & lonely.

For example today I was a bit bored, with not needing to make a trip down state to spend the weekend caring for you then rushing back Up North to get my clothes washed so I have something to wear to work. I have been yearning for a day like today – one where I could spend time reading blogs, watching videos online and catch up on some books/movies/tv shows that I’ve been wanting to read/watch. But when I sat down to do this, I couldn’t find anything on my to watch/read list that wasn’t tied to you in some direct way.

And then I fell apart. And nothing could console me. My heart hurts and I find it hard to take a breath.
And I don’t feel that anyone can help me make it better.

And I promise, I’m not suicidal, but I just want to be with you, and to stop hurting so much.

I need to get myself a job downstate, so I can get moved, and get back in with Dr T so he can help me find my way, because I really don’t want to try an start with a new doctor knowing I’m moving back in the near future.

With all the love my broken heart can hold,


I watch almost as much TV, but I started enjoying watching shows more

I used to work for a cable company, which one it was doesn’t really matter, they’re all the same in the end. But I don’t work there or even in the industry anymore. And cable tv went from being free to too damned expensive.

So, I gave it up. Well, not right away – I kept it for a while but I found I rarely turned it on. So the expense became even heightened since I was paying out the butt for something I wasn’t even using.

Maybe it’s because I now only watch the things I chose to watch, when I want to watch it vs what’s been hyped up by commercials and when they want me to watch it.
Maybe it’s because I watch whole seasons in one to two days, so I get fully immersed in the story telling.
Or maybe it’s a combo of all the above.

I don’t think I’m unusual in these things. I think it’s pretty common to feel like I’m paying too much for my entertainment, then don’t even use it very much. I think loads of us in our society enjoy watching whole seasons of shows in one sitting – there’s a reason we have the term “binge watching”.

One way that I think I’m different is similar to the ways I’m different in what movies I watch, music I listen to and books I read (wow, if you were able to follow that sentence the first time, I’m impressed with your ability to interpret)- I don’t like watching what’s popular, typically. Why? Well, because often when I do I’m disappointed by the lack of expectations being met. An example is Gilmore Girls. I was SUCH a fan from the beginning of that show back when the CW was the WB and I truly wanted to love the reboot. I didn’t. I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but I wouldn’t likely ever watch those 4 episodes again. Sigh

But I have watched some really good shows and thought I’d share some of my favorites in the last six months:

On Netflix:
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Chelsea Does
Grace & Frankie
And of course there’s the obvious ones – Sherlock, The West Wing, Stranger Things & Orange is the New Black.

On Amazon:
Orphan Black
Mr Robot

There are two shows I have been loving watching for the current season – This is Us & The Good Place

I’d heartily recommend any of these, just know I tend to like a heavier drama silly/odd comedy. If you have watched any of these let me know.

Or if you have a recommendation for me I’d love to hear that, too!

Dear Mom (4)

Dear Mom,

I love that I can be of service to you and to Dad during this time. I feel confident that I will never have the regret of feeling I could have done more after you’ve gone.

But, I’m exhausted. And my old nemesis insomnia has set up camp in my life once again. It’s not a great combo – it has made me short-tempered and downright bitchy at the smallest of annoyances.

So, thank you for understanding that I couldn’t come down-state to be with you this weekend. I needed to stay home, take my sleeping pills and try to recover a little from the exhaustion that I have let take over.

While I am awake this weekend I’m trying to get my house clean – or at least not as unclean as it has been for the last month. And packing, preparing to move downstate to be near you and to help care for both you and Dad on more than just weekends. It’s a big change, but I know it’s the right move to make.

And, to be honest, the move isn’t all about you, you know that. You know I’ve been contemplating this move for over a year now. You didn’t want me to, until recently, and now you’re feeling urgent for me to get the move done. You even bought a condo for me before I could even find a job or get my house up north ready for showing & sale. But, I can’t move until I find a new job. So, for the time being I’m in a sort of stand still, until the job is offered & accepted. Then the move will happen quickly.

The problem is I just got this job that I enjoy & doesn’t stress me out. Sigh.
But, don’t take that as a complaint – I am glad to be moving back to my hometown, to be with you, to soak up every memory I can with you and Dad.

I love you,

Dear Mom (3)

Dear Mom,

In the context of all of the suck that is cancer we got some good news this week – the doctor believes that if you take care of yourself you should see another birthday and maybe another Christmas.

This means you’ll also get to see the next two grandkids get married – and they’ll get to celebrate their weddings without the dark cloud of your death hanging over them.

Unfortunately, Dad didn’t really get it. He took it to mean that you didn’t have cancer. And he told people you were mis-diagnosed. And then you had to tell people that you do have cancer – again. And you had to tell Dad that you have cancer – again.
And I know that it hurts to have to tell him this once, a second time and a third…and…and…and…

And it’s so hard, these extreme emotions. I want to celebrate the good, and I want to forget the not-so-great.
But, that doesn’t seem to be in my nature. And I know I got that from you so I imagine you struggle with this as much – or likely you struggle even more – than I do.

Sigh. I’m trying not to think about it too much. Most of the time I’m failing.

With all my love,


Dear Mom (2)

Dear Mom,

Christmas was this past weekend, and I’m so thankful that you were up to the celebration.
I know you pushed yourself more than you probably should have, for our sake, but it was still nice to be able to enjoy one more family holiday with all of us there.

Leading up to the day of was interesting – I had drawn your name in the family gift exchange and at first I was so excited but then it sank in…what Christmas gift do you get a woman who is dying?

In the end I decided to ignore your diagnosis and get you a gift that I would have gotten you if I didn’t know. So, I ended up getting you a really soft lovely blanket scarf, a beautiful set of colored pencils and a beautiful coloring book as well as a couple of treats.

It’s funny that a good weekend gives me little to write about.


Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

We recently found out, after months of you feeling ill, that you’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer that has spread to your lymph nodes in your armpit and chest. While I understand why you’ve decided to not pursue treatment, I feel it’s really unfair that I’m going to lose my mommy and by best friend all at once.

And I’ve been crying almost non-stop for weeks. I’ve been able to pull it together enough to go to work each day, but really not any more than that.
Cry. Work. Cry. Sleep. That’s pretty much the makeup of my week days. Weekends I’m down to visit you, but really just change “work” to “caring for you and Dad” and that’s my weekends.

My only real down time is driving downstate and back up north on either end of the weekend, and still then I only maintain my grip because I know it would worry you if I were to cry while driving. So, I put my earbuds in my ears and turn on some podcasts to try and distract my mind from weightier issues.

I’m sorry that I worry you with the panic attacks that I’ve been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to hide. It’s just so much to know that you won’t be here to talk to in the future. Of course, I’m an adult so I’ve known in the abstract it would happen someday, but now it’s no longer abstract and my mind and body don’t know how to deal with that. The caring for you and Dad helps burn off some of that adrenaline so at least I can do something productive.
So, I drive down and do laundry, cook, grocery shop and make you eat real food. It’s the only thing I can do in an attempt to find my footing again.

Dad. Well, I don’t know how he’s doing. On the surface he seems to be doing well with all of this, but I’m concerned that he’s tapping into a well of strength that isn’t as deep as it used to be. That’s the thing about Alzheimer’s that no one warned us about – he can push himself sometimes and come off as if he’s not failing, but once that well runs dry he ends up in such a state that he’s worse off than he was before. But how do you tell a man not to take care of his wife and children in order to save himself?

The fact is I know you do something similar to yourself when I’m in town. And for now I’m letting you, even thought I know it isn’t the healthiest thing for you.
It’s selfish of me, but it’s just so nice to see those moments of your being fully you.

I love you.



Been gone so long…

And I’m not going to make excuses for it.

I simply needed to do what I needed to do, I was in a funk and had to work it out before I could really be authentic about what I write and what I share. So I did, and now I can.

A quick catch up – – – really general, not at all covering everything in the last few months of course:

I slept A LOT. For about two months all I did was sleep and work. It was unhealthy but I couldn’t find the energy to even fix the lack of energy. I’m doing better now, and have been for a little while, but still I have made an appointment with a doctor to find out what’s going on. I suspect it’ll turn out to be something to do with my thyroid. Fingers crossed it’s not worse than that.

Work. It’s been hard, but it’s getting better. I have been offered a new position that’s more my speed, but it’ll be a while before I get to reap the benefits of it though because they have to fill my current position before they can move me into the new position full time. Once they do though I should be working 4 days a week instead of 5 so I should be able to get back to school as well as simply having more time to do fun things. And my job will be more behind the scenes so I don’t expect that I’ll be so emotionally exhausted at the end of the day because I won’t be constantly in a public space like I am in my current position. For an introvert like me that’s huge!

Family. Ugh. Things aren’t improving there at this point, sadly. Dad’s Alzheimer’s has progressed significantly. Mom’s overwhelmed but not ready to accept help. And a couple siblings have their own things going on that have added to Mom’s stress levels, which in turn adds to mine – I can’t really say more on those situations though because they’re not my stories to tell. Suffice it to say that they’re both choosing sad paths and none of us have been able to help.

Getting my house in better shape – it’s about even between the good and bad on this one. I’ve made progress, but I wish I could report that I’d made further progress than I have. Letting go of the hard & fast goal line has been a good thing though, so now I don’t have a end date but I do just expect myself to do some each week. And this is working for me. I have a long way to go before I can say I’ve gone through and organized all the “stuff” in my house, but the progress I’ve made has been more in depth than I really thought I’d be able to do in a first pass through getting rid of crap.

One thing I have kept up with through these last few months has been my reading goal – I’m ahead of schedule to finish 52 books before the end of 2016. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been enjoyable. I think I’ll set another reading goal for next year, but it won’t be as high a goal since I’ll be back in school (fingers crossed).

Anyhow, I’m going to go read before going to sleep.

Good night.