What I Learned After Killing My Flowers

I have a pretty set morning routine, and it always starts the same way. I get up and walk through my house, opening the curtains and blinds, letting in as much natural light as I possibly can. I love seeing the sun shine through my windows in the morning.

My favorite view, though, is once I open the blinds on the french doors leading out to our porch and backyard. But the other morning, I opened those blinds and discovered that I had managed to kill my potted flowers on the table outside. Not on purpose of course. I just forgot to water them. For like, a week. (Oops.)

 

Read the rest at Her View From Home

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Are We There Yet? Looking for the end of my grief journey.

“I saw that one-year anniversary on the calendar as a milestone. I would get to that day, a whole trip around the sun without my mom, and it would be an accomplishment. I felt like the kid in the backseat asking “Are we there yet?” I was just so ready to feel differently than I did.

And then the day came. And you know what? Nothing felt any different. I’m not sure what I thought would happen– they don’t exactly give you a medal when you make it through. No pats on the back. And no tangible relief. Kind of a rip-off, right? Because that was HARD work, and a long road.” …

Read more at Her View From Home

 

What Next?

hannahag.wordpress.com

I — again — hadn’t realized how long it has been since I have written here. I have been focusing on writing for a new publication, a digital magazine called Her View From Home. I made it a goal to get published somewhere new this year, and this one kind of fell into my lap.

The best part about the magazine, without a doubt, is the incredibly supportive community of writers I now get to interact with. We read each other’s articles, ask each other for advice, build each other up when we are insecure about what we have written or are thinking of writing.

It is also incredibly intimidating. I am in the company of widely-read bloggers, journalists, and published authors. Many, if not most of them, came into the magazine with substantial online followings.

So — yeah — not me. Maybe some day? But not now.

I never really thought of this blog as something I wanted to become huge. It was literally never on my mind. I knew I needed to write to make sense of this grief and the ways it is always changing. My hope was that even one person would read something I had written and be helped by it. That is still really my only goal.

Alright — so I need to figure out where this blog is headed. First things first, I have decided against publishing the journal entries I made while my mom was in the hospital. I can’t do it. I want a digital copy of what I wrote, but I think they need to stay with me only. I published the first two (which I have since removed) but as I mulled over posting more, I became more protective of them.

These were essentially my last conversations with my mom. I wrote TO her. I couldn’t talk to her, so I was desperate to find an alternative. They really only get heavier as they go along. I guess I thought giving a voice to them would help me move forward. I was definitely wrong on that one.

So for now, I will share my articles here (they’re great and let you have your articles back after 60 days to publish elsewhere.) And I’m sure I’ll write random things here along the way. I am working on something now that I hope I have the courage to publish, if I can get it to come together.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

 

Saying something new

I have neglected this blog for quite a while. The reason I started writing in the first place was to write openly and honestly about the grieving process, in the hopes that it would not only help me, but someone else who possibly stumbled across it and found a connection to their own story.

My absence here has been due to the fact that I felt — at least at this point — that I have said everything I needed to say. I have become somewhat closed off, not wanting to open up about my grief. It feels like a broken record to me, with the same themes repeating over and over again. I have become all too familiar with the themes, and the thoughts, and the struggles. There was nothing new to say. So I stayed quiet.

But there is an entire, foundational portion of my grief that I have ultimately never given a voice to — the days my mom spent in the hospital. The stories are there, and the memories. They bounce around in my head all of the time. They lurk over my shoulder, and I have not known what to do with them. It feels morose to share the specifics as a factual account, and most of the people who want to hear the ugly details have either heard them, or were there when they happened. The rest either knowingly or unknowingly recoil when I do reminisce. And I’m sure others avoid the topic so as to not upset me. And I understand that.

But these memories and these moments made me. I am a different person than I was before my mom got sick. I ultimately have more anguish over the moments that made up the last few months of my mom’s life, than I do over the nearly three years since she died.

When my mom was in the hospital, I kept a journal. My dream, which I reference more than a few times, was to share the journal with her when she recovered. But that day never came, and the raw emotions and reactions are stuck on pieces of paper, and stuck in my mind.

But that journal is some of the best, most honest writing I have ever done. So I will share those moments here, on this blog. My hope is that it will give a voice to a part of myself that I have never really given the respect of acknowledging. I hope that it will be a new phase of progress for me. And I also hope that someone who is hurting and grieving and feeling alone will stumble across it, and feel connected.

There are parts of some of the entries that I will omit, and a lot that is deeply personal and emotional. It flips between hopeful one day, and devastated the next. It speaks, at times, in a few medical terms that I learned along the way (which I will try to explain when necessary.) It spans the time my mom fought to recover from a deadly flu, starting a few days after she went into the hospital, and ending at about 4 a.m. the morning after she died.

I’m not sure how long it will take to write it all up, but I intend to keep at it until it’s finished, and hopefully find it to be worthwhile.

Trying something new

For a few reasons, I’ve taken a break from this blog for a while. I wrote a piece on parenting while grieving for the mom’s blog that I write with, so I think that also served as a kind of personal release for me. The blog was shared in a few other cities, and a few times on Twitter, so I was pretty happy about that. When I started writing, I was inspired by the blogs of other grieving people whose insights have helped me greatly within these last two years. I have wanted so much for my words to somehow help someone else with their own pain, and I hope that with the shares, maybe I have now had a greater chance to accomplish that. I’d be happy with even just one person.

I also wrote more in my journal, and those words are reserved only for my mom. Writing here helps me greatly, but I think the things I have needed to say lately, I’ve needed to tell her. My journal is where I have been doing that since she first got sick. I only have one page left in it, and I think I’m almost hesitant to finish. I know it doesn’t mean anything is ending, but when I started that journal, my mom was still alive. Anything after will be solely my reflections without her.

I have reread my journal many times, and for some twisted reason it is very therapeutic. Probably because it becomes completely impossible to hold back tears. I read the ups and downs we all went through, sometimes only hours or minutes apart, and it takes me right back to those endless days and weeks sitting in her ICU room(s.) It’s not always so bad to remember, because I did have hopeful times where things would be looking up. I get reminded too how much “preparation” we had at times. Not that anything really fully prepares you for someone you love to die. But the day she passed away, I wrote that it was clear to me that I was going to lose her. We had her for about eight more hours after I’d written it. The shock of an unexpected death has to be worse.

Lately I have missed my mom very much. Much more than usual. It’s so strange the way grief progresses. Even though I have been very heavyhearted for weeks, the other day I was absolutely overwhelmed by a memory , and how it only brought gratitude with it. That was all. It was an entirely new feeling for me. It was a bittersweet memory, but I was –totally unexpectedly– free of any sad tears at all. I was nothing but thankful to God that I had the times with my family when my mom was still here. I didn’t wish for the time back, I was just flat out thankful for it. Maybe that feeling won’t happen again for a while, but it made me feel really, sincerely, okay.

There have been times in the last month or so that I have thought to write, but stopped myself, because I was certain that the only thing that would come out of me would be melancholy. If I have any regret with this blog, it’s that I worry I come across at times as ungrateful. I am so grateful for so many things. I’m hoping that soon I will be able to share lessons from my grief that are more full of wisdom than they are sadness. I’m finally feeling like that’s possible.

“I didn’t know what to say…”

Can we stop normalizing that concept? Please? I don’t mean it towards the well-meaning, hearts in the right place acquaintances who worry they’ll say the wrong things, but the ones who never say a word, about anything, and ultimately disappear.

I have found in my now two years of grief that the phrase “I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing” gets thrown around a lot. Really. Really. Often. And to be honest, it wasn’t said to me that much.  I have a small “tribe” of friends who have held me up, but I’ll be damned if they are not some of the best support anyone could ask for. The thing is though, they’ve all known hurt, and loss, and pain. Some know realities far heavier than my own. Some are in the midst of that reality even as I write this. So those people, my rocks that I love dearly, have always known what to say. I hope I am as much what they need as they are what I have needed.

I have had others show up that have helped me greatly, and had some that I thought would always be there drift their way out of my life. I have had some say the wrong thing more than once. Okay, really just one person, but she means well. And she tries. We just don’t speak the same language and probably never will. But she tries. And that is ultimately what matters.

I have read in various blogs and articles how many times not knowing what to say gets offered as an acceptable reason to say nothing. Not everyone in your life is supposed to lead you through grief. But some are, and they don’t. I imagine out of fear of the repercussions for themselves if they choose the wrong words. And there are others who are genuinely afraid to make a situation worse by adding the wrong words at the wrong time, and their fear is honorable. But honestly, you can’t pick the wrong ones if you are making an effort. Most of us won’t vilify you if you say the wrong thing.

What’s funny is how often those of us that are the ones hurting offer the excuse on a silver platter to the ones who have offered us silence. Probably because it hurts a little less that way. Grief is a heavy burden to bear, including for those that walk beside us through our own pain. Some days it’s flat out ugly. But death is something we are all going to one day be faced with. That doesn’t make it easier to deal with, but we get nowhere by ignoring its’ effects on those of us left behind. Listen to the ones who have faced it. You may learn a lesson you will some day lean on heavily. I know I have.

I have been at this whole hurting thing for a while now. I have learned more than I ever thought I would. And I have found that the grief of others breaks my heart — in some ways — more than my own loss of my mom has broken me. Because I know a few things. I know the long road they’re now on before they get anywhere good. I know the roller coaster, the marathon, the waves, and every other metaphor that gets thrown around. I know that they have people that will drift away. I write this less for myself and more for those with pain that is new, or is ahead. I kind of know what I’m doing by this point. The silence of some no longer frustrates me. I have found the things that work for me, but for those who have it ahead of them, their grief needs people in the beginning. It needs a listening ear while they trudge through the many complexities of loss. It needs the presence of others. Even the ones who have no idea what to say.