What Grief Looks Like

I threw out the funeral flowers today.

I got home from work today, feeling a little wobbly. Feeling like if I stopped, if I sat down and let myself feel all the things, it was probably not going to be good. So, I took a few minutes, let go of a few of the tears, plugged in my ear buds and went to work cleaning the pantry.

It’s been two weeks since Mom died. I woke up this morning, looked at the clock which said 3:31 and realized instantly that it was exactly two weeks ago that Dad came downstairs and told my sister and I that Mom was gone. Basically to the minute. How can it be two weeks already? And at the same time, how can it be only two weeks?

I’m settling back into life. Going to work, talking with people, taking care of things at home – the things I’m supposed to be doing. Well, except for maybe making supper – I’ll take any excuse to get out of making supper and I figure this is a good one.

I spent years teaching people that grief looks different for different people. That there is no “right way” to grieve. That each person’s response to grief is as unique as they are. I know these things – I know that they’re true. But I started to get in my head this week. When people asked, “are you ok? I’m surprised you’re at work.” When I talked with my sisters and heard their feelings of being overwhelmed. When I got caught up in a project at work and realized that I’d forgotten for a little while.

In all of that, I got in my head. I started to wonder, why was I at work? Why was I able to seemingly just fall back into life? Did I not love Mom as much? What are people thinking? Do I seem callous? Uncaring?

Now, I realize that’s not true. That it was just my fears getting away from me. I’m reminded of a phrase that we heard a lot years ago when my daughter was in treatment – “Feelings are not facts.” Everyone grieves differently – and that’s ok.

My grieving looks like going back to work. Getting back into my everyday, into the things I have going on. Over the last months, Mom told us again and again that we’d be fine without her. In my last conversation with her, she stroked my face as I cried and told me again that I’d be ok. Ok might be a stretch right now, but I’m doing the things and putting one step in front of the other.

So, when I cam home, feeling a little wobbly, I realized this was one of the days that I would have called Mom. She would have listened, asked good questions, told me to have a good cry and then go to work – “go get something done, hon.” So, I had my tears, turned on the music and started cleaning.

And threw out the wilted funeral flowers.

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