The Long Road Back: A Memoir

Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break. William Shakespeare

I’ve written before, on my other blog Gran Speaks, about how life is really good for me right now.

It took a long time to get to this point, after a period of complicated grief.

Here’s The Mayo Clinic definition of complicated grief:

Losing a loved one is one of the most distressing and, unfortunately, common experiences people face. Most people experiencing normal grief and bereavement endure a period of sorrow, numbness, and even guilt and anger, followed by a gradual fading of these feelings as they accept their loss and move forward.

For some people, though, this normal grief reaction becomes much more complicated, painful and debilitating, or what’s called complicated grief. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble accepting the death and resuming your own life.

In late 2007, an old acquaintance who was trying to reconnect with me wrote, “What happened to make you so unstable?”

That was a powerful question, one I was trying to work through, in my own way.

It took me a long time to recover from the death of a woman who was not my biological mother, but who was my mother in every sense of the word. After my mom’s long illness and death, in May 2006, I fell apart, emotionally and physically. I could not work, I had to declare bankruptcy, and in my darkest moments I considered suicide, just to escape the pain.

With God’s grace and lots of hard work, I’ve finally made it to the point I’m at now, still neurotic as all get out (that’s my baseline), but able to work, spend time with my family, enjoy life, and most importantly, take time out every day to laugh out loud.

This summer I’m finally emptying out the storage unit that’s housed the remnants of the apartment I shared with my mother from 2000-2005, after the death of my Dad. The family pictures have been hung in my new apartment, household items passed on to family members or given to Goodwill, my mom’s old Medicare statements of medical services are being shredded.

It’s time for me to let go, to honor my mother’s memory by embracing life, love, and laughter.

Just as she wanted me to do, just as she told me many times, before the cancer started to eat away at her body and her mind. “Go out and live your life, Beth, after I’m gone, and know that I’m finally with Dad again, where I belong.”

So it’s time for me to write about my long period of complicated grief, and the long road back.

I’m finally able to write about my experience with honesty and, most importantly, a sense of humor.

I will not be blogging my story; it’s my plan to self-publish my experience.

At least that’s the plan now!

Who knows?

The most important thing right now is for me to get the words down into a Google document (I can’t seem to write longhand anymore), and see where that takes me.

I will keep you all updated regarding my progress.

The working title for my memoir is “The Long Road Back.” I have my old friend C.S. to thank for this title. After the death of a parent, C.S. went through a period of intense grief. Then, one day, she stopped what she was doing, closed her eyes for a few minutes, and whispered, “I’m back.”

At least that’s how I remember what C.S. told me. Perhaps time (15 years or so) has corrupted this memory, but that’s how I remember it.

Right now, I have written about one thousand words of my memoir.

It feels good, it feels right, to share my story now.

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About boomergrl49

Mom, Grandma, social worker, blogger. I love reading fiction of all kinds, and I'm also addicted to television, especially Fringe!

Posted on July 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I can sure relate to all of this, having went through the loss recently of my mom. I too had to get rid of treasure that I never thought I would have to do. I crammed as much as I could of her life and mine into a 10×10 storage and keep trying to weed out what I can. Knowing that every month I have to pay to keep it there doesn’t help me much. I want to keep what I can but know that soon I will have to let it go. Not looking forward to those days. Living through the exhaustion and grief I cannot say “I am back” yet. I am working on it slowly. I think your idea of writing things is a good one. I have found over the years, that letting it all go in print and having a record of it is a good one. Thanks for sharing!! : -).

  2. Thanks, Carol. I was thinking of you as I wrote this post. My storage unit payment has increased every year since December 2005, when my son and I pushed as much as we could into the 5×10. Thanks for reading, and God bless. Thanks again for being such a great support to me, over the years. Despite what you were going through yourself, you’ve always supported me in a respectful, caring manner.

  3. I thought it was just me. My Mother has been gone 4 years… 5 this coming September. My heart still hurts so know if I were with you I’d hug you in understanding. I think those of us that feel this way had wonderful mothers. We were lucky. It’s good to know there are others that are having a tough time coming to terms with letting go.

  4. Thanks so much, Kathy, and I’m sorry for your loss. I would hug you back in understanding. I think you are right; we had wonderful mothers!

    Thanks again for your kind words. All the best to you on this holiday weekend.