Posts tagged ‘death of parent’
I didn’t expect to take eight years cleaning out my parents’ home. But here I am.
I also didn’t expect to feel walls of resistance erect inside of me, blocking my ability – or rather, my willingness – to throw away, give away or pack up their stuff. Propriety dictated I go over to their home and get the job done. I just wanted to sit with their things and cry.
Along the way, I noticed what nudged me to act when I’d get stuck holding on to their things. I’m not advocating we push ourselves past the point that our emotional journey takes us. In fact, I’d say take all the time you need and can reasonably acquire. I had the luxury of keeping my parents’ home, the house where I grew up, for almost as long as I wanted. I wasn’t paying a mortgage on it, it was close by, and my husband indulged me.
However, if you discover you need a nudge, try these strategies to get back on track.
What is the good of grief? Is there anything we can snatch from the jaws of death? Or is it a final defeat – senseless, purposeless and meaningless?
My mother died eight years ago today. I remember feeling the sense of total defeat for her. I was still alive. I might rise from the ashes of my grief and find joy again. But she was dead.
My feelings contradicted my spiritual beliefs. I believed my mom was in heaven and in the presence of God. But I live in a tangible world. I could not see where she was or how she was.
I should have known better. I’ve been grieving long enough to know. But because I didn’t think ahead, I planned the last grand sale of my parents’ belongings right before Father’s Day.
And right before “death month” – July. Both my parents died in the month of July, three years apart. Every year I march toward the month and replay their lives and my loss. I go over to their home on the anniversaries, go through their things and decide what to keep and what not to keep.
It’s a common ritual for the living, that of deciding to do with what the dead left behind. For some, the task is too painful. They assign the job to a friend, or even hire out the work. Others madly toss stuff in boxes that get put into storage. They put their grief behind lock and key.
I didn’t like my name. School teachers and classmates misspelled and mispronounced it. Others expected me to be a boy, to be Tony. Not Toni. But I’ve long since gotten over that, and even love my name now. I’ve never met nor discovered through Google another Toni Lepeska. It’s unique.
Maybe you’ve struggled with your name. Maybe it means you’ve struggled with your identity. If so, I’m right with you.
Every first full week in March is Celebrate Your Name Week. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on who gave us our names and on the joy with which we entered the world. Maybe we can recapture that joy. Maybe we can celebrate ourselves in the way we were celebrated at birth.
I’m trying to figure out how to put my new life together. It’s been eight Christmases since I lost my mother and 11 since I lost my dad, and I still am trying to figure out this “new normal.” Especially this time of year.
Maybe it’s like following a recipe. I don’t mean that grief is about precise steps that always lead to a certain ending like a great tasting dish. I mean that finding a new normal is about mixing ingredients. Mixing what was and what is.
Fidel Castro died, and I wanted to tell my mother. You know, she’s dead, too, and whether the Castro news is important to her now, I don’t know. But it would have been important if she’d been alive because she saw his tanks roll into Cuba and destroy her island fantasy.
Single, childless and 30-years-old, my mother planned to move to Cuba. She was serious about it. She worked for a glass factory that was building a plant there. Mom was learning Spanish to prepare. She loved the tropics. Palm tree fronds wafting in the wind. The warm sun on her face.
In Atlanta, she’d met an airman before her visit to Cuba in 1958, the year before Castro came to power. Smitten, he’d written her that spring, and I found the letter years ago. It reads: “I hope that ‘police action’ in Havana didn’t interfere too awful much with your planned ‘siesta.’” Read more
Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday for people grieving over the loss of loved ones. After all, thanksgiving is about what we have. Grief is about what we lost.
I think this complexity is especially true if you’ve lost parents. They cooked the meal. They provided the centerpiece – love and warmth. And they provided the place, often our childhood homes.
Welcome to my blog. I got an uneasy feeling as I prepared to write this first post. I’m not a terribly private person, but as the moment to bare my soul approached, I discovered I wanted to hold back, not put myself out there. Expressing grief is an exercise in vulnerability.
Perhaps you’ve felt vulnerable with grief. Instead of telling someone you aren’t okay, instead of shedding tears in a crowded room, instead of telling someone a piece of your story, you shy away and you hold it all inside. Read more