Time has gone so quickly. It’s been 7 weeks since my mum died. We’ve nearly finished clearing out her flat and have really enjoyed the nostalgia of going through her scrapbooks and photos. She kept everything!
Since then, a number of children that we work with have passed away. A few of them were long standing patients who we knew really well. Many knew that my mom was sick.
I have been overwhelmed by these families’ ability to think about me at this time. One mother was phoning me to tell me that her child had died that morning but her first words were, “I am sorry, I heard about your mom.” One of the doctors at the hospital had told her.
I have had to fight the guilt and the voice in my head that wants to say to them, it’s ok. It was only my mom – it’s not like it was my child.
And then I have realised, that grief is grief. Every loss is important to someone and losses cannot be compared. Working with lots of different cultures and recently having attended the funeral of a precious Zulu boy, there is something to be said for the sometimes dramatic and indulgent expression of grief. The rituals encourage a collective grieving that doesn’t really happen in my time-conscious wristwatch tapping culture!
In fact it seems few people know how to express their condolences, needing to make it better at the same moment they say they are sorry, “at least she is a peace, at least the suffering is over.” And they are quite right, I am tremendously relieved for this but not quite ready to be grateful that she is gone.
But as much as we need other people’s permission to grieve, we probably need to give ourselves that permission even more.
At first when friends encouraged, “take time to be sad” I thought, I don’t have time. Life, work, kids, they go on. Where am I going to find time? But in these seven weeks I have started to find the time; a few quick tears when I remember I can’t phone her to tell her some good news; a smile when I hear a favourite song on the radio; the heavy chest when she is absent at yet another of my kids school functions.
And that’s how it’s going to be. I still miss my dad and can’t imagine a time when I won’t miss my mom.
And as a friend and colleague of my mum’s wrote, in a newspaper article about my mom, quoting Shakespeare,
” When she shall die
Take her and cut her out in little stars
And she will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”