Next Wednesday, March 31st, will mark the one year anniversary of my mother’s death. I’ve thought about it a lot these past couple of weeks. I’ve thought about the mourning process and how long it lasts and what exactly it is — really. I think mourning is different from grieving — I have my own thoughts on grieving. But mourning, it’s different… I think mourning might, at some point, settle in to relief.
I had a great-aunt, Aunt Dot. I loved her, we all did. She was crude and funny and bossy and rough around the edges and caring and nosey — she was wonderful. Long before I was born, she was badly injured in a car wreck. It left her paralyzed from the hips down. Her husband worshipped her — worshipped her. He lifted her in and out of her wheelchair and in and out of the bed. He drove her everywhere. He put her leg braces on her and propped her at the sink so she could do dishes or cook. He cleaned. He cooked. He did everything for her — he worshipped her. When she passed away, I remember my uncle and the lost look in his eyes. I remember seeing him get into the car at the funeral home as we all were leaving to go to the cemetary — he collapsed in the back seat. He was inconsolable. He had lived his life for her — and now she was gone.
A few months later, he took a trip. It was the first time he had been away from his home in about 30 years. I would never have asked him if the feeling he had was relief — but I’m sure that’s what he was experiencing.
I think when you go through a health struggle with a loved one — cancer, injury, prolonged illness — and then they pass away, the mourning period looks different. I think at some point you have to admit that the feeling you have is relief. It’s a little scary — relief. It’s hard to get a handle on it.
We battled cancer with my father for 2 years from diagnosis until he died. Six weeks later my mother was diagnosed with cancer — in between my father’s death and my mothers diagnosis, my oldest sister’s husband died from colon cancer. Cancer sucks. That month and a half was so not a good time in my world. We battled cancer for 14 months with my mother from diagnosis until she died. Thirty-eight months straight of a long hard battle for my father and my mother — that I lost. It took its toll.
I wrote some things for my mother’s funeral that I had her minister read (I was, of course, unable to speak). One of the things I mentioned was how I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to mourn my father’s death because the battle never ceased long enough to breathe — 38 months.
So, I mourned — for both of them — when my mother died. But then the mourning gave way to relief. And the relief gave way to guilt. The guilt is leaving — slowly.
So, next week will be the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. I’ll wait to see what the day will bring. I’ll let you know.
And now, enjoy this song by Anthony Skinner. We were fortunate to have Anthony and his wife sing this song at my father’s funeral.