My mom and my son, Alex.I just survived a one-two-three-punch Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas -- without my mom. She was my right hand in the kitchen, my gimmel, my Santa Claus. She was my best friend, my mentor, my miracle. She was the curve of my smile. Losing mom during any time of the year would’ve been devastating, but taking her beautiful spirit right before the holiday music started to play left my world deafeningly silent.
Grief has been an ugly earthquake of emotion -- anger, sadness, jealousy, devastation, numbness, isolation -- that’s left me shaking. I have been especially gutted helplessly watching my baby boy, whom my mom fought so hard to live for, suffer from the ripples of destruction death left in its wake.
Here’s grief, in Alex’s voice:
“Mommy, Mimi was your mommy, right? I can be your mommy now.”
“Mommy, Santa Claus is going to go up to the sky and bring Mimi home where she belongs.”
“Mommy, I have an idea. We can take a rocket ship up to the sky so we can see Mimi again.”
“I want Mimi!”
“Mommy, do you miss Mimi every day?”
“Why is Mimi an angel?”
“Mommy, Mimi made me laugh.”
“Mimi lives in our hearts, right?”
“Mommy, please don’t go up in the sky. I would miss you too much.”
Mimi was hilarious. Alex had a laugh especially for her. I haven't heard it since she died.
Grief is Alex looking out the window during every car ride hoping he will get a glimpse of his grandmother up above. Grief is disturbed sleep, uncharacteristic clinginess, and spontaneous tears. Grief is having no answer for the never-ending question, “Why?” Grief is seeing a grandmother and grandson out holiday shopping and Alex informing them he used to have a grammy but she died. Grief is bringing up memories of Mimi from morning until night. Grief is asking if Mimi will pick him up from school. Grief is the emptiness of looking at photos and videos. Grief is wanting his grandmother’s arms wrapped around him but curling up in mine instead.
Grief swallowed me whole and spit me out. It’s a level of pain I tried to prepare for caring for my mom as she battled ovarian cancer for nearly 12 years, but it’s worse than I ever imagined.
Grief is raw. It’s like facing a blizzard butt naked.
Grief physically hurts. It makes my head throb, my eyes swell. It turns my stomach inside out. I swear I felt my heart crack when I sat beside my mom as she took her last breath.
Grief is crying in the shower. Screaming in the car. Feeling bad for myself.
Grief is running into my mom’s friends and being happy to see them on the outside, but profoundly sad inside. I can’t help but wonder why they’re here and she’s not. Why are they ringing in 2014 while she’s dead? She belongs here, too.
Grief is isolation. My Christmas date card was empty this year. Who wants Jodi Downer at their table?
Grief is deciding to skip a girls’ night out, even though I really wanted to go, because I feel numb to the sympathetic hugs. I am so tired. Beyond drained. And I can’t face the questions. How am I coping? How did it happen? How are the kids handling it? Am I okay?
Grief is seeing a mother and daughter laughing at the movies and welling up with tears.
Grief is a fu&king nightmare on instant replay.
Grief is being envious of friends who have both of their parents alive and healthy.
Grief is listening to sad songs on satellite radio. Over and over and over.
Grief is trying to make the holidays everything my mom would have wanted if she were alive. It’s sucking up my feelings to smile for the kids, to smile for her.
Grief is clouding my memory of her smile.
Grief is pressure. I took the kids to New York City to see The Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes and to board the Polar Express on Christmas Eve. She would want the kids to do these things, so I did them. For her ... and for them. Not for me.
Grief is trying to cut through my sadness with sarcasm. My mom is buried in a Jewish cemetery. I brought her a poinsettia on Christmas day and joked that her neighbors would be upset with the new girl’s fashion faux paus.
Grief makes me hard on people inside of my head. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “You need to be as resilient as your mom.” “She wouldn’t want you to wallow in sadness.” “She is with you always.” I know they mean well, but I can’t stand these sentiments.
Grief makes me want to run away and start over.
Grief pisses me off. Every. Single. Day.
Grief is looking for a sign everywhere I turn. Mom, where are you?
Right now, grief feels permanent.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with overwhelming grief?
Image via Jodi Meltzer