I have been away from this blog for a few months. I lost a chosen family member in November, and in February my mother died of a massive stroke. So, in the midst of writing about grief, I am enduring multiple bereavement grief once again. My mother's death was unexpected, although when someone of 81 elects to have surgery, you know there is always the chance they won't make it. The surgery was quite successful, but Mom had a stroke within hours that destroyed significant portions of her brain. She remained on a feeding tube for a week, and then my family made the decision to remove the tube and stop the IV. My youngest sister was lying on the bed with Mom, holding her, when she passed away.
Knowing as much about grief and grieving as I do has helped me and my loved ones. Many of my relatives have not had to go through such a significant loss before. It has helped my father, especially, to be told that everything he is thinking and feeling is normal.
For myself, I have lived through the numbness of the early days. I gave the eulogy at Mom's funeral. I spent a week with relatives and friends whose presence was a deep blessing. We played games, ate food that had been dropped off by loving neighbours, and took comfort in knowing that we loved and were loved by each other. It seemed like "time out of time," as everything was odd: we weren't at work; we were with people we hadn't seen in many years; we were aware of why we were together, but the real grief had not started. Tears were shed, but it always felt like Mom would walk into the room any minute and invite someone to play Scrabble or Cribbage.
As our brains go into shock we are allowed the blessing of being able to do and be many things that surprise us. Early grief is not often the deep, raw, ravaging experience we may expect.