Friday, March 1, 2013

A Grief Letter {Part 2}

On June 17, 2012 I wrote A Grief Letter.  It was written while I was participating in a bereavement group through my church - a group called GriefShare.  If you are experiencing a loss right now or in the past, I would highly recommend seeking out this Christ-centered grief support group.  They meet in various places nationwide and around the world.

A grief letter, if you don't know, is basically a letter that you would write to your friends and family to state where you are at in the process of your grief.  It gives people a better idea of what you are going through and what they can do to help.  It also lets them know what is not helpful at that time.  I wrote that post last June as a part of my grief process.  I wrote it on my blog because that was just easier for me.  Little did I know that it would touch many people.  The post still receives hits from online searches to this day.  If you have read that letter and found it helpful for your circumstances, I am honored to be a part of your healing process.  I will not take any personal credit, as I believe that what I shared, I was led to share.  It wasn't "about" me.  Yes, it was an exercise for me to do, but it wasn't to stand out and say, "hey, look at me in my grief!"

It's now a little over eight months since I wrote that letter.  In many ways, I feel like I haven't moved out of those places I described then.  I wrote this last June:
So here we are almost two years since her passing.  I find myself in a strange place.  I find myself grieving the loss of my mother as though it were yesterday.  It is so fresh right now and I'm feeling a lot of the raw emotions I was feeling back almost two years ago.  I've been struggling.  It has been a while, and I finally recognized that I was in mourning for a loss that happened a couple years ago!
Change the time frame to two and a half years and I feel, in a sense, like I could have written that today just as easily as I wrote it last June.  Have I not progressed at all??  I wonder.  No, I think I have progressed on some levels.  But, then again, I'm still feeling these raw emotions.  I think it's really a resurgence of raw emotions coming out of the season in life I am finding myself in today.

Peyton and my mom - December 2008
The common theme in the hold up in my grieving is Peyton.  I'm not blaming Peyton for an inability to grieve. I have grieved my mother.  I do grieve this loss still.  It's the fact that when my mother was dying, Peyton was extremely ill, having brought us to the point of having discussions with doctors back in 2010 about what the measures we would or would not be willing to take with Peyton in the event of a sudden decline in her health.  At that time, it was quite possible we'd get to that point.  Fortunately, we did not.  Between then and now, Peyton has been a 24/7 challenge.  A very sweet, cute and lovable one though!  Things with Peyton stabilized.  Improved a little over a very long period of time, but I wouldn't say they outright "improved".  Today, however, she is in a much more medically fragile state than ever.  The past couple hospital stays for her have reinforced that.  You just need to truly know us or follow on her blog to gain an understanding of that.

So, going back to my mother and my grieving of the loss of such an important person in my life...
I realize now that while I felt at the time like I'd really dealt with my mother's passing exceptionally well, in fact I had not.  I had to set aside my grief to deal with the constant daily struggles of having a medically fragile child.  She's much better today but she is still very much a concern in my life.  But while I've been going through the motions of my life, setting aside "me" for the benefit of my child, my father has moved forward - as he should.
I wrote that last June as well.  Aside from the dramatic shift in Peyton's health, the rest of this statement holds true.  My life today is so consumed with Peyton's health...her very life that it makes it impossible to move out of the grief that I still feel.

I would say that I have accepted my mother's passing.  It's not that I deny that or am angry at God over her death.  It's more that I'm angry that I couldn't deal with everything normally because of the serious issues within our own little family.  Ok, everyone has issues, I get that.  Everyone in my extended family is, I am sure, still dealing with my mother's passing in one capacity or another.  I would never suggest that everyone has moved on and forgotten her.  I would never say anyone is "over it".  You don't get "over it".

Here's the thing.  From where I am sitting, I am seeing people who have moved on considerably farther than I in their grief process.  I'm not saying they don't miss her, but they are farther along.  Why?  Because they do not have the seriously heavy issues that "The Fontenot Four" struggle with each day.  I'm not saying people don't  have issues.  But in my immediate family {for now...not extended family} there is not a single one facing the threat of the loss of a child that keeps them so consumed with that that it prevents them from taking on the weight of a major event that happened two an a half years ago.  My mother's passing, again, is set aside as I deal with our scary and stressful journey with a medically fragile child.

So, where am I at - aside from feeling, well, stuck??  I can also say that while I am grieving my mother, I think it's fair to say that I have been doing a lot of "pre-grieving" for Peyton.  If you have ever been a caregiver for a dying person, you have probably done this.  When the loved one passes, you've dealt with a lot of issues in advance and may appear to move quicker through grief than others around you think is appropriate.  I wasn't the caregiver at home for my mother, but as her daughter, I can say I did a lot of "pre-grieving" for her, as much as I could given our family situation.  But Peyton was so sick right around that time.

In my "pre-grieving" for Peyton, I am finding that I am missing my mother even more.  I was extremely close to her.  I need my mother.  I want my mother.  I have faith, but I wonder why God would take her from me at a time when He knew I would be needing her the most?  Is it to say that it is really Him I should be needing the most?  Perhaps.  But in the completely tangible, physical I need someone to physically lean on for support kind of way, I need my mom.  Even if she were here, she'd be in Canada while I'm down in South Carolina.  Were it not for her illness, there are countless times over the past two and a half years where I've thought, mom would have been here.  Mom would have left to be down here with me to help out during this time.  Mom would have this.  Mom would have that.

And I find myself in a strange place with my relationship with my dad.  {Let me re-state that this is a grief letter and it has a purpose of saying where I'm at right now so as to be better understood.}  In discussions with Ron, I have uncovered the fact that I have been placing certain expectations on my father - and getting upset when they don't materialize.  These expectations are based on the things that I knew were true of my mom and the things she would have done.  Whether expectations weren't met because they were a mom thing are aren't a dad thing or even just a guy thing, I have no idea.  But there are moments where I feel gaping holes in my life because of her absence.

I find myself seriously struggling with my father's relationship with someone.  I mentioned that last June.  The struggle hasn't improved.  I said it in June.  I'll say it now.  I do not wish for my dad to be unhappy or living in misery each day because of his loss - because it's his loss too.  This loss isn't all about me.  He knew her for years before I came along - and in a much different capacity than I did.  To deny him happiness after his loss would be ridiculous.  But I cannot get past it.  It isn't this woman herself.  I don't speak ill of her.  It's the situation.  I feel like I went from my mom being here to this woman being here, with little time in between and no time to build a relationship that was just based on dad being "just dad".

I struggle because his life involves her now.  I know that.  Head knowledge and heart knowledge are not always in sync.  Such is definitely the case with me.  I want a relationship with him, but what I want and how I want or need for that to happen is not how it will happen.  It's a constant battle in my mind, resulting in very poor sleep, bad dreams, and general overall stress.  Stress which I truly do not need because I have enough stuff stressing me out right now as it is!

Things aren't what they were.  They aren't what used to be normal.  They are different.  My mind is not able to wrap itself around everything nicely and handle things as I should.  I stay silent or say very little because I can't talk about it.  I've distanced myself from the situation, hoping it would make things easier.  If I don't have to hear about it or see it, it'll be ok.  Or at least I won't have to deal with it at that moment.  But the further things progress for the rest of the world, the more I stay behind in this world that is so consumed with such a huge and overwhelming life situation with our child.  I feel like our situation is going to come to a head and I don't know how I'll be when I'm back in the world where everyone has moved on from this tremendous loss from two and a half years ago.

So this is where I am at in my grief with the loss of my mother today, several months after sharing that first grief letter.  I pray constantly that there will be an improvement in this area of my life because I know there will be a time coming, probably before I'm ready, when I'll have to deal with grief again.

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