Today marks one month since Mom’s passing. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that… I keep telling myself I should be feeling back to “normal” here any day now, but when I realize it’s just been ONE month, I think I understand why nothing feels remotely close to normal.
A friend put it in perspective today when she commented on how death leaves our sense of time in complete disarray. Was it last week or 20 years ago? As Elaine said, it’s “both eons and moments.” I can’t think of a more fitting way to describe how it feels.
Funny how God has a perfect way of communicating with us, often through other people. Last night, I began corresponding with a Caregivers reader and found we have quite a bit in common. She lost her mother a year and a half ago after having spent years as her caregiver. It hit home when she explained that a friend of hers who works with grief told her that daughters who are caregivers sometimes lose their identity when their mothers pass and in a way have to relearn who they are.
It makes perfect sense. This is something else I’ve been thinking about but haven’t been able to put into words. It’s not just that I don’t know what my new “normal” is… it’s also that I’m not sure who *I* am now that I’m no longer a caregiver. So much of my identity has been wrapped up in Mom for such a very long time – years and years. In hindsight, during 2012 in particular, dealing with the disease has literally consumed my mind.
And then suddenly, it stopped. Everything stopped.
I got an invitation today to visit a friend in Texas and it took a minute to grasp the fact that if I want to travel, I can – anytime and anywhere I want. It was a sobering realization. For so long, my first thought would have been, “Is Mom in a good enough place for me to feel comfortable going out of town? What if something happens?” It feels good to have that freedom again, but truth be told, I’d trade it in a second to have my mom back.
I’ve been thinking about grief counseling, and a friend is putting me in touch with women who led two different groups that she found very helpful when she lost her mother. Kobacker/HomeReach is another option; they will provide free counseling in a group setting or one on one for a full year. I don’t know if it’s too soon, if it’s the perfect time, or if I don’t need it at all. Will I somehow know when the time is right? Where is the instruction manual for all of this???
Is our situation unique because of the long illness and the complexity that comes from grieving over the course of years only to find out that this is a completely different, even more compelling sort of grief. Will anyone understand?
There’s no doubt about the fact that, emotionally, caregiving sucks the life out of you. BUT, on the flip side it also adds a richness to life that nothing else can – at least not in the same way. It’s such a dichotomy. Overwhelming challenges, overwhelming rewards.
Of course, it took all of this to lead me to my true passion. At long last, I know what I want to be when I grow up (well, maybe not specifically, but you get the idea). Just this week, I’ve had several people reach out to me based solely on my Caregivers writing and that has been so uplifting. I love that my circle is expanding and I’m beginning to make more contacts. There’s something very special about crossing paths with people who share my passion for caregiving and elder care and who want to try to help make this journey easier for those who will come after us. There is so much I want to do and so much I know I can do… The time is now.