As a few of you will know, my mother passed away in April after I'd nursed her through her final six months of life. That role helped me to cope, I think, with the aftermath. That and the signs I got that she was looking out for me. My natural self-reliance was another thing: I'm used to a solitary life and taking care of myself. Finally, there was the book I was writing about our time together, and about our life history. That helped to keep her alive, in a sense, for me.
It's over seven months ago now. In that time, I've finished the first draft of the book and started a new job, which I've settled into reasonably well. I don't like the travelling. But I like only working four days and routine, unchanging hours. The work itself isn't what I thought it would be, and I find it a bit of a trial some days - but it's okay.
I was happier at my old place, which I left to look after mum. Last week, I saw my old job advertised and applied for it. I have an interview on Wednesday. I don't need to prepare. I know the people well enough. I know what they'll ask. I think it will be a formality. It'll mean slightly longer hours, and eventually alternating late and early shifts. I don't like that idea so much. But again, I liked it there. And it's just along the road from where I live, so no more travelling. I can sell the car.
Naturally, though, this stuff is all churning through my head. Is it too much change, too soon? Two new jobs in the same year that I lost my mother? Am I asking too much of myself?
Today, I started the second draft of the book. Much more is coming out. I can feel it coming to life.
And now - tonight, just a half-hour ago - something suddenly hit me and brought me low. It was like that sudden sense of dropping you get in a very fast-descending elevator.
Mum's gone. She's not here any more. That wonderful person is gone, and all I have is the memories, the keepsakes, the photos... and this pile of pages of her life.
I never expected it to creep up on me like this. The time of year probably isn't helping, as she always loved Christmas, and we always had such a lovely time together - just the two of us - over Christmas.
But she's no longer there.
Phew. I need to go to bed.
this is all part of your healing and grieving process....and as you know that is bitter sweet..the fact that you have such fond memories you should be thankful for x
it is an emotive time of year for a lot of us. I dread it as it reminds me of what I do not have. Thankfully I have family who are alive but unfortunately are estranged.
hang in there Tom....your process and journey are healthy
I know exactly what you mean. My husband made a slip of the tongue a few weeks ago when I got my degree - he said “should I phone your Mum” (he meant his Mum) and I burst into tears. It’s now 23 months since her very sudden death and I still haven’t really grieved properly, partly because of how I compartmalise and partly because I’m helping my children through it as well.
with the job, if you get it, talk to them. They know you, know your circumstances and what has happened. It wouldn’t be a new job - it would be going back to your old job.
A couple of other things have added to it this week. On Wednesday, I checked Facebook just before I left for work. On the main timeline was a 'memory' from a year earlier, which the bot kindly thought I might like to share again. It was a photo of mum's Christmas tree, just after I'd decorated it. It was an artificial one she'd had for many years, and it always looked lovely. When I put it away in January, though, a couple of the wire branches finally came off. In May, during the clearance, I steeled myself to throw it in the dumpster.
Then, yesterday. It was so cold last night that I thought I'd get a hot water bottle to put under Daisy's blanket. I went to Aldi's to get one, but they'd sold out. Everywhere else was closed. Then I remembered that mum had one. It was packed away in a suitcase under my bed, along with lots of her other personal things. Nervously, I got the case out and opened it. The smell was the first thing to hit me - a mixture of lavender and perfume. It was like having a ghost pass through me. I should have shut it down right then. But I saw the bottle. And then I saw a couple of balls of wool and some needles - with a scarf mum had been knitting. I'd bought the wool for her just after last Christmas, when she was struggling with jigsaw puzzles, but wanted something that she could make - and to keep her brain active. It was the last thing she'd ever put her hands to making. It was beautifully done... as far as she'd got with it. I'd forgotten about it - packing it away quickly at the time, as with everything else.
I should have just let it be... x
Thanks, Bonnie - and sorry about your own incident. It's tiny things, sometimes. I have loads and loads of photos of mum. I've got them on my Facebook page, on my desk, etc. I can look at them all without a problem. Yet there's one that always catches me out. It's in a folder on my computer. I have to shut my eyes and skip past it if I'm looking in that folder. I should move it somewhere else, but I can't bring myself to. It was a passport-type photo I took of her a couple of years ago, when my brother was applying for a blue parking badge for her when he took her to hospital appointments. She isn't smiling... and she just looks so sad in it, as if she knows her time is running out. I'll always treasure it, though. I'd hate to lose it.
I'm not really sure whether I've grieved properly or not. A bereavement counsellor I saw said that I'd done a lot of my grieving already, during those months when I was looking after mum in her final illness. I was with her all the way through to her final breath. I suppose that is some consolation. And I've gotten on with my life. I've written a long book about those times, I've started a new job, I've settled down again. I think my natural self-reliance has helped: the fact that I can manage alone, and don't have any need for anyone else in my life. I also know that mum's at peace and out of suffering. I've never really shed any tears - apart from on that last night. I feel generally okay - apart, again, from those small slips. Maybe it will all catch up with me one day. I don't know.
I didn't get that job, but I'm not too worried now. In fact, I'm a little relieved. The big thing that was bothering me was the rotational shift pattern. No sooner do you get settled in a routine of, say, 7 hour days in day service than you're rotated into 14-hour days in outreach residential services. Many staff find that difficult to cope with. I think I'd really struggle with it. I had one job where I had alternating earlies and lates, and it burnt me out very quickly. I had a breakdown through it. The interview went very well - I knew all the right answers. But when it came to talking about the shift work, I expressed my misgivings... and I know they didn't like that. They really should have made it much clearer in the job advert, though, to be fair. Also, my old manager - who is one of the best managers I've ever had, and who was very understanding during mum's illness and my time off - seemed a little less sympathetic. It was that morning, as I've said above, that I saw those Christmas tree photos. It took the wind out of my sails, and I still felt a little 'off' when I got to the interview. I mentioned that I'd had a bad moment earlier - and she responded, quite sharply "Yes, well... it's a difficult thing and it takes time, but we all have to deal with it and move on, don't we." That pulled me up a bit.
Anyway... as I said, in many ways I'm okay about it. I don't have the decision-making and over-analysing of the situation hanging over my head any more. I can get back to keeping it simple and get on with what I've got.
Take care x
Isn't grieving a process at times of going through a series of "emotional suitcases"..you have enjoyed a life time with your mother ..and that is a lot of suitcases to open, explore, appraise, smile and be teary about.
some suitcases bring smiles, others frustrations...some seem so large they can swallow us for months and years..some we keep having to go back to...some we don't even remember packing..some we didn't pack but "just threw things into" and shut the lid.
I hope Daisy got warm either way...and don't rush yourself x
Writing the book has been like exploring an entire baggage train! Now I'm on the second draft, much more is coming out. First draft was opening the cases. Now it's going through the contents. I guess the third draft will be tossing some stuff away, but giving what remains a bit of extra care and attention... and then repacking much more neatly than before, so the zips and buckles don't bulge.
I put that water bottle back in the case and bought Daisy another one today. Seems silly... but I feel happier doing it that way.
I've also, much against expectations, put some Christmas decorations up today. I got rid of my old tree to a charity shop. Bought that whilst I was still married, so I must have had it 15 years. I got a new artificial one for a fiver. A few lights and some green tinsel garlands, and it looks pretty as a picture. I hate dressing Christmas trees, but this one came right first time. Daisy's fascinated!
So your braced for Christmas....and Daisy set for the cold...no wonder you both get on so well....battle packs ready
My sympathies to you on your mother's passing. You seem able to communicate your feelings in this forum, which is hopefully cathartic for you. My mother died in front of me when we were talking about a year ago. Silent heart attack it's called. Not the slightest warning: She rolled back her eyes and was dead. Ever since then I've never experienced grief at all, despite people urging me to go for counselling re the shock etc. I actually don't feel sad about it, and my father also died six months later. My take on it is I most likely have alexithymia: The inability to verbalise, or communicate in any way, how I feel. It's not something I find an issue, but those around me do....big time.