Coping with Death cont'd
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
I had to allow a small amount of time to pass before I continued to blog about coping with the death of my brother. My anger and sadness was over-riding my ability to focus. Today marks 3 months and one day since my brother passed away. Ninety-one days without my brother. Ninety-one days my mom had to let go of yet another child. Ninety-one days since my sister-in-law crawled into bed with her husband and spooned. Ninety-one days since my nieces and nephew talked to their dad about anything. Is it any easier than day one? No. Have I learned to live life in a different way? No yet but I am starting to.
I am so tired of hearing people tell me that it will get easier. Or that this was Gods plan. When my sister first passed away I took those words to heart. I waited every day for it to get easier. That day still hasn't come and I can almost guarantee it never will. What I have learned is that you begin to relive life over. Think of it this way. (This is just an example of what I am trying to say.) Someone has an accident, ends up with a head injury and is left with damage. When they become conscious they must re-learn the basic skills all over again, as of they were a child. That's what I had to learn how to do after my sisters death. Only it wasn't basic skills of tying my shoes or speaking. It was starting my life over again without her. Waking up with that emptiness and heartache but still go through the motions of life.
It didn't happen at the snap of my fingers. For weeks after my sister died the only thing I could do was sob. I crawled from the bed to the couch, leaving a trail of tear and snot drops in my wake. For days I went without brushing my teeth, combing my hair, or getting dressed. I remember the morning I woke up, went to the bathroom and then started to brush my teeth. My mind hadn't fully woken up yet and my old routine just happened. It wasn't until I rinsed my mouth and spit in the basin that the memory of my sister's death slammed into my brain. Two things happened at once. First the pain was so overwhelming in my heart that it took my breath away and second, I felt like a piece of shit for not remembering until just that moment. It was as if I had betrayed my sister. How could I have forgotten in those brief minutes upon waking? Which started off a whole new avenue of grief inside of me and sent me back to bed. I didn't forget the next day when I woke up that Sherri (that's my sister) was gone but I did go the bathroom and brush my teeth, crying the entire time. I did go downstairs that morning and perk the coffee while I buried my face in my hands and cried. But, I was standing. The litter boxes were long overdo for scooping. The smell was overbearing. I grabbed a bag and scooped the litter boxes. I didn't scoop them because I wanted to but rather I had to. And yes, I cried through it all. I repeated these steps the next morning and the next. Months had gone by and I realized that the sobbing was less frequent. I could brush my teeth, get dressed, pack my husbands lunch and even go grocery shopping without breaking down. The pain was still there. My chest was still heavy and tight making breathing difficult but with every passing day I was mastering my new way of life.
The roughest of the days that followed were the "firsts"! You know what I mean. The first Christmas without them. The first Halloween, the first Easter, the first day of Spring and so on. Those firsts are a killer, and not just for you but for all the people who grieve over them. And then you have to deal with that one person who it just doesn't seem to bother them that she had died. The anger becomes real and you have to be careful because anger is one of the steps in grieving. Oh yeah, someone gave five steps to grief.
So many people told me that I was going to have to go through the stages before I could begin to heal. Really? Many of arguments happened over that statement. I mean who the hell did they think they were telling me I had to go through the stages before I would "get" over my sister dying. Hey how about kiss my ass? It was in the quiet moments, in the middle of the night that I reflected on many things. One of them was the stages of grief. I was testier than normal. I flew off the handle way to easily if someone upset me. And I found that I had next to no tolerance for anyone. Maybe I was exhibiting anger. I decided to buy a book on grief. Don't ask me why because I really don't have a clue, but I am glad that I did. The book I chose those four years ago was written by Judy Tatelbaum, The Courage to Grieve. I found the book useful. Don't get me wrong, not every page brought enlightenment, but some sentences had a profound effect. For example, on page 27, the very last sentence she states. "The truth is that we keep hoping we will awaken from this nightmare." That sentence by no means is monumental however, to me it hit home. I had just got done telling a friend of mine that I just wanted to wake up and find it was all a horrible dream. To find out that someone understood what it was that I was feeling meant so much. And there in lies the mystery. We are not alone no matter how much we think we are. No matter how much we want to scream that no one else out there in the world feels the pain that we do, the truth is, some do. In a sick and twisted way that makes me feel better. I am not happy that someone lost a person that they love. I am happy that I am not alone. It's not just my tortured mind and heart that feels this oppression. It's a comfort to know that I'm not losing my sanity.
Writing these blog entries are not easy. They rip the thin layer of scab off of my heart and force me to relive those seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months and years. But if one person seeks help and runs across this entry I am hoping they too will know that they are not alone. I have no degrees. Zip. Nill. Nada. None. But I have empathy, compassion and eyes to read. If you need someone to talk to, email me. If you just need to air your thoughts, email me. There are hotlines you can call just Google grief hotline and dozens of numbers and information will pop up. Until I blog again.....SrS