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Friday, January 17, 2014
Getting over or getting around?
It’s been a busy week here in Seattle—a good busy–and although I have been writing, it has been for work projects, applications, etc. I am itching to share a good Marshall update; there are many good stories to tell. But, I want to stay committed to writing about my journey through the book Motherless Daughters.
For me, the hardest part about writing about my loss is the fear of this reaction:
It’s been over 20 years! Why aren’t you over this already?
To be truthful, no one has ever said to this me. (At least, not to my face.)
But I have heard it, for over 20 years, in comments of concern, in the well-intentioned:
“Do you have someone to talk to?”
“Are there any mother figures in your life you can lean on?”
“How can everything in your life relate back to your mom’s death?”
The answer to all three of those questions? YES.
I am very fortunate to have many close friends and family to talk with about my feelings. I have had some amazing therapy. I am lucky, so lucky, that I had my best friend’s mom growing up, that my stepmom is an absolute Godsend, and that my mother-in-law is one of the best listeners I have ever met.
And as much as I hate it, there is a part of every decision I make, every quirk, every good or bad habit of mine, that relates back to my mother’s death.
All of this points back to a commonly-held belief in our society: Grief has an end.
The central theme in Edelman’s first chapter, “Seasons of Grieving,” spreads this very message, that mourning is an ongoing process. As much as we would like to think of it as concrete, grief does not have a beginning, middle, and an end.
I buy into the idea that grief comes in cycles, around important times in our lives and special holidays, but at some point, I thought those cycles would stop coming.
They change. They are much easier to manage. But they still come.
Every time I get choked up around Mother’s Day, when I shock myself after saying something just like my mother would have said it, when I get sad looking at pictures–I find myself thinking, “I guess I’m not over this yet. What’s wrong with me?”
Edelman offers this revision in our idea of grief: There is no getting over it, just getting around it.
And that small change in word choice, from over to around, makes a huge difference in my thinking, in my conception of what grief is, and what it is not.
There is no getting over it, just getting around it.