This past Thursday (October 18, 2018) my mother passed away after a three-month battle with leukemia. When I got the call from my father I fell into a strange sort of catharsis, the kind that consists of a) sadness over the loss of my mother and b) the emotional release brought by knowing that she can finally rest, free of the horror of cancer. I thought I could get on with life, with some differences of course, but wow: that first night, that first day after she’d passed…
That night I went and bought a bottle of Glenlivet to sip while my friends came over to hangout and watch Netflix with me. What I did not anticipate, however, was gradually pouring glass after glass from about 10:00 p.m. until about 8:00 a.m., proceeding to get zero sleep whatsoever, and then attempt to go into work for an eight-hour shift the following morning, two minutes into which the ladies in the back office sent me home because I was definitely not in any condition to be working.
I was in shock.
So I went home and proceeded to sleep for about eight hours before meeting my dad for dinner at my mother’s favorite Chinese restaurant. We had some great food, a couple of drinks and talked about what we remembered most about mom, about the legacy she’d left behind. My mother was someone who helped a lot of people throughout her life; she cared about people, went out of her way to make sure they were getting along in their lives. She was also the co-founder of Major Impact Theater, a nonprofit theater group for adults with disabilities, and I am so amazed and proud of the profound effect she had on all of those actors’ lives. She helped them come out of their shells, and they are now some of the most outgoing people I have ever met. And my mother is a big reason why.
I think my coping started at that moment. I had said my goodbyes mentally a few days before, but the realization of reality began to sink in that night at dinner. And I knew that while it was perfectly okay to feel said, I didn’t want to wallow in that misery–mom wouldn’t have wanted that of us.
Grief affects people differently, though grief itself is something universally understood. Things I’ve tried to be more proactive about in these last few days, weeks, and months, really are meditating everyday. I find that if I can focus myself early in the morning that I’m usually good to go for the rest of the day.
I’ve gotten into a sleep schedule that doesn’t involve going to be at 2:00 a.m. anymore.
I make sure to keep a notebook on hand most of the time for jotting down story ideas, or to just write down a thought I’m having.
I’m working on getting back into my gym routine.
I’m reading more.
I’m breathing more.
I’m learning to appreciate life and the people in my life more than I have before.
I have my moments where I allow myself to cry. It’s healthy, and it’s important to not hold that in. It’s important to let myself grieve when it comes.
Coping is not easy, but it is certainly possible. You just have to take it day by day.