Just Thoughts–the fine art of grieving


My last post was in November. I knew it’d been a long time, but I didn’t know it had been that long.

Grief is a strange thing. You think the beginning is the worst. Or you think a little later is worse. When you’re staring down the long goodbye, like Alzheimer’s, you expect it. You anticipate it. If you’re like me, you spend plenty of time preparing for it. But grief. . .well it doesn’t operate on a pre-approved schedule. It does its own thing.

I don’t know at what point I realized that all my grief plans were garbage. I’m not sure when I realized that you can’t logic your way through it. As an emotional person, quite possibly an HSP (highly sensitive person) I have spent pretty much my whole life trying to handle emotion, trying to get it to follow some kind of order because that’s what the world expects. A lot of time that works, but with my mother’s passing I’m learning that a lot of time is not all the time.

You can’t put logic on grief. You can feel that terrible swelling wave that starts in the throat and spreads through your body, and you can try to figure out what is causing it. That works with depressive moments, Seasonal Affective disorder, times of rage, times of joy. But grief–that’s another animal. Sometimes there’s a trigger, but mostly it’s just there. It grabs you by the throat and shakes you. The more you fight it–and trying to color it with logic, looking triggers is trying to fight it–the longer it stays. You either let it run its course, or you go around with a dark cloud looming over your head, and a constant feeling of an impending breakdown.

And so. At some point in the last nine or so months, I finally came to terms with that. I stopped fighting it, and let the pain pour out of me. I found a therapist and let the pain pour out at her too. I gave up trying to wrap myself up in discipline, which was just as destructive. After spending years forcing myself to dive into painful situations, I couldn’t do it anymore. For example, it’s almost 1 am. I should be in bed. I’m not listening to the should.

I have been busy, though. Not as much as I would like, but certainly as much as I could handle. I’m not exactly sure when I discovered GIMP, but ever since, I’ve been learning how to use it. There are tons of youtube videos that show you how to do things. I am so appreciative of these people who take the time to teach these things. I have books too on how to use it and spent a whole lot of time fooling around with it.

During that time I came up with new covers for my books. I loved them at the time. Then I started loving them less. I put them up on Amazon regardless. I tried them on CreateSpace to create paperback books, but by the time the proofs came in, I was working on something else.

I’ve been reading–Ready Player One was fantastic!–and yes, writing. I’m well into the second draft of the final book in this trilogy.  I wanted to write up some short story novella-style books on the main characters’ lives and how they came to be dissidents, from their points of view (not 1st person, but certainly in thier heads). I never got to that. Maybe I will in the future. I would give each story away for free, and possibly put one whole book together at some point. Is that something you would be interested? Comment, email, contact me through facebook or twitter and let me know.

In the meantime, though, I’m focused on this last final book. I said it would be out by June. Then I said this summer. Then I told myself mid-September. It’s looking like the end of September right now.

I’ve also retitled the books and I have new covers for them. It’s late right now so I’m not going to put them up today. Hopefully by the end of the week. If not, certainly next week.

So that’s where I am. My mother’s been gone more than a year and I am finding the pieces of myself that mourning and the daily grief of Alzheimer’s stole from me. I’m not there yet, but it does feel good to be getting close to the end of this last book.


Thursday Thoughts: Alzheimer’s, Death and a Whine

10487283_10203395028384143_5237883498684633183_nMy mum had Alzheimer’s for many years. She was diagnosed on December 10th, 2011, but it had shown its ugly face earlier and was obvious by June of 2010. Which is when my Dad died. My stepfather died in 2014. It’s been a rough few years.

And I don’t know how I got onto that. Huh. Guess that’s part of the whine?

At any rate, I had to finally give up on her walking in July of last year. It wasn’t for lack of strength. She had that. It was because the disease, after eating away so much of her brain, had finally reached the part that could instruct her legs to move. It would take 5 minutes of “Mom, just move this leg forward. Yup. Lift it. Just move it forward” and her saying “Okay. Like this?” and trying but failing before I could get her to move that leg. Because of this, I had to try using a wheelchair to get her to an appointment. That didn’t work either. I almost dropped her twice. By the end of July I was no longer taking her to appointments and she was wheelchair bound.

In a long line of losses, the loss of her mobility was the hardest for her emotionally. I, to this day (to this minute as I fight back tears) feel guilty for giving up on her. It was the right thing to do. I know that intellectually. But I want that back. I want to have her walking again and talking. In my heart, I still struggle with whether or not that decision led to her death.

That last phase started the Thursday before Mother’s day. She had bruises on her hands–from what I don’t know–that became swelling in first one arm, then the other. She was hospitalized, where they lanced her arms to let the fluid out. And then told me, on Mother’s day, that she was bleeding internally somewhere. That trying to find it meant trying to fix it, and fixing it meant putting her under. My mother’s brain, at that point, was barely functioning. I was down to “thank you” from her, and hand holding. She couldn’t afford to lose any more brain cells, which would have happened under anesthesia, if she would even have made it through surgery. She had written up legal documents that requested no blood products, antibiotics, surgeries etc be used when she became unable to interact. Since losing any more cognition (which would happen from surgery) would put her in that place, I had to agree with the doc to do nothing. The fact that I’m writing this out, that I’ve gone through it several times with different people, tells you how difficult that decision was. I know it was right. But it’s a struggle to agree to ending your mother’s life.

So we put her on hospice and thought maybe we had a few months. I mean, other than the bleeding into her arms (the swelling kept coming back–she wasn’t clotting) she seemed pretty physically healthy. At least that’s what I saw. But a week into her hospice care she was back in the hospital, and this time when they released her they sent her to a short-term hospice facility. She had, the hospital said, lost more blood and was definitely bleeding internally somewhere from something. A doctor told me that she didn’t think Mom had more than a couple weeks. I was tired. I didn’t believe her. Not really.

I’m still tired.

It was less than a week before she passed. And then I was blanketed in grief and exhausted from 3 weeks of extroversion. Every day, people and not fun people. People telling me my mother is dying people. After that it was planning a service. My siblings and I don’t talk. I won’t even text with one of them. So the planning was, again, exhausting, as was the service. People, people, some painful drama, and a lot of resentment.

By the time it was over I’d extroverted through 4 weeks. Since then, since June 5th, I’ve been trying to recover. To just breathe again. To want to see people at all. I haven’t given a lot of thought to writing and I certainly haven’t written. I’d planned so much. And I should do it. But I feel guilty over the free time I have after my mom passed, and I’m guilty that I didn’t stop it, and I’d be guilty if I tried. So the time I haven’t spent cleaning up my mother’s things, I’ve spent on facebook. I’ve read a little, too, but even that makes me feel guilty. I should be writing. I should aways be writing. I should always be taking care of my mother. Should is a new swear in my life.

Just writing this creates a huge wave of grief. It sits in my throat. I guess most people feel it in their heart, but it’s in my throat. I think from holding back sobs. I miss my Mom. In the end, we didn’t have much left, my mother and me, but we did have hand-holding. We did have listening to music in her facility. We did have me reading to her (Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter because I could get pictures for her of the characters and places.) We did have an occasional smile. I miss that.

So–deep breath–it’s another week without writing. It’s another week of trying to care about writing and failing. But I can’t stay “here” stuck in my grief and introverted exhaustion forever. It’s not a good place. So right now, before I call this post done, I am calling up a file. . .and I paged down to where I left off. I have some minor changes to make in Children of Liberty. And a few minor ones to make in The Liars as well, for purposes of consistency. Such are the issues with world-building. Somewhere there’s a notebook with those changes written out. But I’m not going looking for it today. Today, I opened a file. I have critiquing to do but in between I will look at that file and maybe find places to tweak. It’s the best I can do today.