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Mental Anguish

I started writing about death soon after my sister died. Writing about what I felt helped. It didn’t take away the pain. It didn’t shed any light on why it happened, but I did learn some things. I learned that the world continued to turn. The sun still rose despite how sad I was. And that same sun falls gracefully every night. The black sky gives way to the moon, and no matter how I feel or what I feel, I know that a new day will dawn on the morrow. Time passed, some days slowly. Some days quickly. The only constant was my grief.

It took nearly a year and a half before the sobbing ebbed and slowed to just crying. The hole in my chest didn’t go away. I just learned how to live and breathe with it. My new way of life had become the norm, and life continued. And just when I could deal with this new way of living, feeling as though my life had some sense of familiarity, my brother died unexpectantly. His death was too soon. Not just because he was only in his fifties and had so much more life to live. But the raw pain of my sister’s death was not even close to any healing, and now I had to cope with a new horror. The same pattern took shape as it did with my sister’s death.

I thought I knew what to expect but I would be wrong again. Part of my coping with my sister’s death was leaning on my brother. We would talk about her and cry with one another about our loss. It’s not that it made her death any easier, but it made me feel better knowing I shared this great sorrow with someone. As I did, my brother had a huge gaping hole inside him. Why did this make it seem more tolerable? I don’t know. I feel almost dirty, even thinking I could move on from my sister’s death because I wasn’t alone. And then, I was faced with my brother’s death, and I couldn’t turn to my sister for comfort because she was gone. My mom was fighting for her life when my brother passed. I had to leave the emergency room, go to her floor in the middle of the night, and tell her Bobby had died. It gets better. Once I created her living nightmare, I had to go and tell my dad, who was alone and worried about my mom.

Fast forward two years. I was now coping with the enormous losses of my brother and sister and trying to find a new normal. Trying to care for my parents, who seemed lost after they lost two children and gave up on life. On Easter 2022, my father suffered multiple strokes; in December 2022, he passed away. Another significant loss.

I can’t even begin to start the process. I am numb. I cried, but it was different. I’ve started to think that I have become desensitized to death. Or maybe I don’t have the energy to grieve anymore. Perhaps being there for my mom and helping her cope caused me to deny my feelings. I have small random periods of crying bouts, but nothing like I did for my brother and sister. Which makes me absolutely crazy in my own head. Did I not love my dad? Absurd! I adored him. He was one of my best friends. So, why am I not curled in a fetal position gasping for breath? Am I cold-hearted? Have I lost all compassion? So many questions that are floating around in my head with zero answers. I must remind myself that I loved my dad with my whole heart, and then I wonder…is it because my whole heart doesn’t exist anymore? I have lost so many immediate loved ones, and every time a piece of my heart leaves with them. Is it possible that there is just not enough left to sustain more grief? Or is my mind protecting itself because it knows that I will absolutely lose my friggin’ mind if I admit my dad is truly gone?

Do other people feel like this? And if they do, what answers have they come up with? For today, I take one second at a time and breath because that is all the mental energy I have to give— SrS

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