It has been 3 years since my Mother died at 9:41pm on a hot August night. She was 62 and pancreatic cancer had ravaged her body in a short 7 weeks. I was there. I remember the room, the funeral home removing her body and my 45-minute drive home with my Yorkie. It was surreal and I didn’t cry.
Reflecting back on her loss and the associated grief, I didn’t start to grieve until 6 months after she passed. Immediately following her death, my siblings and I had a condominium to sell, clothing and household items to pack, and a funeral to plan. I told myself I was too busy to allow the sadness and grief in.
During this time, I often found myself comforting others about her loss. “I will be ok” or “thank you for your concern,” but in reality I was losing weight, experiencing hair loss and exhaustion. When I saw the Doctor to discuss my symptoms her response was, “Your Mom died. This is normal.”
But what is normal after loss? What does the grief process look like? What I can tell you is it is different for everyone. I read the books, reviewed the stages of grief, and scoured online journals about losing a parent as an adult. What I found is grief is a journey, and I don’t see an end. There isn’t a concrete start and end point. But what I do see is that the weight of the loss has become less with time, it has changed shape. I think of her every day and the anniversary of her death, holidays and birthdays are hard; but my life continues, as she would want it to.
I put the energy from her loss into a little free library in the town where I live. I stained and treated the wood red, her favorite color, and put my grief energy into that library. It took several weeks to complete. With each stroke I released my anger, sadness, and frustration. I used my physical labor to help release the emotional turmoil I had inside.
The library is near a local park that I frequent with a plaque that says “In Memory of Marita Grasher.” I visit that library weekly, take books, and make sure it remains clean. It is how I utilize my grief energy, putting it into something living, something to give back to the community in which I live. Friends, coworkers and town members donate books for the library. This library has connected our community, but it has also continued a connection to my Mother. It is a positive outlet for my energy.
We each have our own story of how we work through grief. I have found peace in the library and comfort sharing with others who have experienced loss of an immediate family member. I don’t have to explain or inform them about my thoughts, ideas or actions; there is a gentle understanding. With my siblings, in a group, or in an online forum, I can be me.
This is my grief story about my beloved Mother, Marita Grasher. What is yours or what do you want it to be?