Grief Doesn’t Have an Expiration Date

My husband thinks about what he just said unapologetically: “How long are you going to use your mother’s death as an excuse?”

Excuse…

He thinks my grief is an invention, a concocted rouse to make his life difficult. HIS LIFE. As if losing my mother was an event I could get over at the push of a button; a made up state of mind that was so egregious in nature that he felt compelled to inform me I was inconveniencing him. How cruel or clueless one must be to think six months of waking up to a brave new world without her hugs and kisses is enough time to heal from a lifetime of knowing she’s buried 3,000 miles away, in a knoll overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, under a heavy granite marker honoring her military service.

My grief is 100% real and there is nothing I can do to eradicate it from existence. Finishing the MBA. Graduating with honors. Visiting Japan in September. None of these events will heal me or inspire me to not feel the pain that comes with not being able to share my hopes and dreams with her. For charging ahead without her guidance and wisdom. I’m listless, a Voyager capsule floating in space, sending signals to a home base that is out of communications range forever.

S.O.S! S.O.S!

Miscarriages. Still births. Disappearances. Murders. Star crossed lovers. Layoffs. Financial downturns. Violence. Bad luck. Many of life’s vicissitudes have an element or sense of powerlessness. An apprehension that consumes you and rattles your inner core making you wonder if you’ll ever have the courage to dare to dream, hope and aspire for a better future. Every uneasy step I take in the right direction feels wrong. The road ahead of me covered in a thick hazy fog that light barely penetrates. I’m navigating without a compass, completely exposes to the elements, not knowing what is worth pursuing and what feelings failure will trigger.

There is no joy. My mother’s laughter and embrace items that exist only in my memory. A safety net full of love and years of cautious observation and unconditional understanding blown away by the hurricane winds of her cancer diagnosis and demise. My husband fails to understand this loss is permanent. Static. A mark imposed on me by destiny. A reality I can’t shake, nor a blow I can soften. I waited so long for her to be free or work, of the responsibility of raising two young daughters only to find out our time together wasn’t as infinite as we deserved.

Every morning I remind myself that there’s nothing I can do to overcome her departure. That she isn’t a phone call away anymore. That she won’t comment in my Facebook posts or ask me to ping her temporarily misplaced iPhone. Halfway across the United States, my sister went through the same if not deeper and darker emotions about three hours earlier but with the rage of 10,000 suns. Mom won’t be here for any of our do-overs. Graduations. Birthdays. Holidays. My sister is not even thirty yet!

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It is hard to keep your composure when being asked to grieve in silence. In shame. Away from other people’s happiness. I’m tired of being handled by a world that sees no value in giving me time and space to heal, to learn to cope with the monumental changes to the fabric of my life. Everyone, including my “better half” expect my heart to go on as if all this was no big deal. Perhaps they seem to forget that it is their job to get me through this, that I’m on my own unless someone steps up to help me carry this new cross I bear.

Ignoring their current state of mind or ushering grief away won’t magically make it disappear. I struggle through the well intentioned but insensitive comments and clichés. The relief of knowing she is not in pain anymore was shortlived. I want here here, with me, alive and well, not in some idyllic place watching over me. I want to smile for the camera knowing she’s living vicariously through me, proud of every accomplishment and skeptical about my hare brained ideas. I want to be able to say she is this or that instead of using past tense.

What I wouldn’t give for grief to have an expiration date…to be free of this misery…

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