Dealing with Grief – A year later

It’s been almost a year since my mum has passed.

I wonder if she can see me from where she is at right now because my life looks almost unrecognisable today – compared to a year ago.

A year ago, I was burnt out, I was stuck in lockdown, I was struggling to be a good caregiver for my mum while juggling my work demands, I struggled emotionally to keep up with everything, I didn’t exercise, I ate my feelings, I was in a long distance relationship…and today – I have a new job, I adopted a new cat, I skip almost daily, I cook my own food and I’m single again.

I kinda feel like a snake shedding its old skin.

It feels weird to be at ‘good’ place, a year on. I certainly didn’t think I’d get here.

For quite some time, I felt like I lost my purpose in life. Losing a loved one does that to you. After all, much of Life’s joys are meant to be shared. And Mum is my bestfriend. How could a world without her be technicolour?

I’m currently reading Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma and he shared an interesting insight on why we experience ‘a loss for words’ when faced with a traumatic event like death. A part of our brain (broca region) responsible for the speech literally shuts off in response to it as a defense mechanism. Without it, we simply can’t put our thoughts and feelings into words.

At the initial stages of grief, I often felt like I could not articulate how I truly felt. I felt like my words could not do my feelings justice. When I read a book or a touching article I would cry, because I felt like those were the words I was looking for but could not find within me. It felt like I was going about my day as usual but I couldn’t quite effectively process my feelings.

A year on, I think I’ve gotten better at it. Though I realised with grief, sometimes there is no need for words. You can’t simply talk your way into silent acceptance of the situation that you are in.

Grief is not like a break up that you ‘get over’ anyways.
You simply learn to live with it.

You learn to find ways to incorporate the memory of your loved ones in your life. You realise you don’t need to relive the painful memory of loss to remember them.

A year on, I choose to live everyday of my life with the values that my mum has taught me. She taught me to treat others with respect, to work hard in life but accept that sometimes things don’t go our way, to learn to be resourceful, to learn to manage my stress well because nothing in life is permanent.

I’m reminded of her when I attempt to cook a new dish, how I use to show her how terrible my cooking was.
I’m reminded of her when I feel nervous at my new job, her comforting words on how I would eventually learn – slowly and surely.
I’m reminded of her when I climb up the ladder to clean my room fan, on how handy she is around the house.
I’m reminded of her when I laugh over some lame jokes, over the laughs we used to share together.
I’m reminded of her when I accomplish something, knowing that I’m here today because of her.

In the little choices that I make, I feel like I’m honouring her memory. I feel like making her proud.

I want her to look at me and know that I’m okay. Dad’s okay. Sis’s okay. The rest of the family is okay. Granny is forgetful but she is okay too.

A year on, we will continue to make the best of life as we know it.
Wherever you are, Mum, I hope you’re okay too.


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