My Mom passed away on June 23. I know some people don't like the term "passed away" but it's all I can say. In my head, even, I can't say "died" in conjunction with my mom. Not yet. My Dad passed 6 1/2 years ago and I thought that I knew what this grief experience was going to be like, having gone through it before, but I am surprised. It's a different experience. I had a different relationship with my mom than my dad and they had different illnesses, so they way that they died was different. My dad had lung disease, COPD, caused by smoking. He had become disabled with it, so that he didn't often leave the house, but he was happy as a clam, living at home, having mom take care of him. I suppose that he hid details of his illness from me so that if you had asked me a week before he was hospitalized (the week before his 80th birthday) I would have said that I thought he had 5 or 6 years left. One morning, I was at the doctor's office and my aunt called me and said that dad had fallen and that they had called 911. He never regained consciousness, really, and passed away a week later, in the ICU of our local hospital. I cried rivers. I cried and cried and cried and cried. I could not go anywhere in my car without one of my kids because if I was alone in the car, I would end up arriving at my destination red faced and swollen from crying. I could keep it together if one of the kids was in the car. They were 17, 13 and 11 and one of them went everywhere with me, pretty much, for a couple of months. After dad passed away, I lost interest in and did not participate in life for a while. I kept working; thankfully I worked at home as a medical transcriptionist then, but I didn't cook, didn't clean and just watched TV all the time. I binged watched NCIS.
I first noticed that something was not right with mom in 2003. She had Alzheimer's disease and though it wasn't formally diagnosed until 2010, I knew about it long before then. In 2013, we moved her into assisted living and in late March of this year (2016) she stopped wanting to eat or drink. She'd lie down and sleep pretty much all the time at the assisted living facility, not engaging in any of the activities. She would cry when the CNAs there would try and get her to go to the bathroom, get dressed or take a shower. She was pretty much miserable, but unlike what you typically hear about Alzheimer's patients, she still recognized me. She often called me mama or introduced me as her sister, but sometimes she called me my baby; any of the ways she introduced or greeted me, she still knew I was hers. After she stopped wanting to eat or participate in life, she went down hill quickly, losing almost 40 pounds, feeling weak, falling, going to the emergency room and finally being admitted to a nursing home. Every day in the nursing home, we got worse news about her condition until she died 13 days after being admitted. My brother, mom's sister and I were there to watch her death and though it was peaceful, it was still awful. I cried every single day from the end of March until June 23 and then after she passed away, I felt dried up, like a husk. We delayed the funeral for a couple of days until my son could get here from out of state and then we had the funeral and visitation. Of course I cried at both of these, but not the volumes of tears I cried for my dad. I think that because I knew that it was coming for longer, it was (maybe?) easier? or maybe it just hasn't hit me yet. Not fully.
It's funny how we react differently to similar events and I know that in some types of situations, it's not a good thing to just give in to your feelings (like doing things you need to do even when you're afraid) but in grief, you just feel how you feel and you just have to go with it and not get angry at yourself for not feeling the way you think you should.
This probably doesn't make much sense, but if you are grieving, ride the feelings, cope with them as best you can but don't ever try and make yourself feel guilty for not feeling the way you think you should. It's hard enough. Don't make it harder.