My mother died recently. She suffered a lot towards the end. I supposed we should have seen the end coming. But denial is as strong as it is covert.
My mother went from doing well, to okay, to in the hospital a couple of times in a couple of weeks, to on her deathbed in hospice, all very quickly.
We were told we had weeks. She was dead within three days of being told that.
There were a lot of things that caught me off guard during that time. Being financially unable to fufill her burial wishes certainly comes to mind. Not being able to cry after her terminal diagnosis because of all the nurses coming in and out of the room in the immediate aftermath. Not being prepared to stay overnight in the hospital, before she got moved to hospice.
I learned what it meant to feel fried. I felt fried. My emotional power chords all were short circuited and fried.
As they progressively gave my mother more and more morphine during what turned into the final days of her life, I was most unprepared by how little I could think of to say to her.
I cried as I apologized to her for not knowing what to say. A fever induced trip to the emergency room a few years ago has left me a cognitive shadow of the man I was and was becoming. I’m slower, duller, quieter, sadder, and less charasmatic, empathic, and bold than I was.
When my mother wanted nothing more from me but to talk, I could not access the part of my mind that facilitates basic communication skills. That sums up a good portion of the past four years of my life.
I cried and told her how scared I was that I would never be same again, as she lay there on her deathbed, she offered me nothing but love, understanding, compassion, and empathy. In that moment she cared more about the worry of her son, than the fact that she was dying.
That is a mother’s love.
She died two days later, two weeks less than what we were told. As the grieving process started, I was shocked to my core how…prepared I was.
I felt more normal than different. Why? Because I’ve been battling depression since I was 14 years old.
All the steps of grief I was experiencing in textbook fashion, overlapped into the overly familiar territory with living and battling depression for so many years. Disconnect, disinterest, melancholy, disbelief, disappointment on a recurring loop. To have a stretch of time without, an exception as opposed to the rule.
I was so taken aback that I was able to stop denial across the board in my life.
Depression, failure to launch, thinning hair, maturity, grit, responsibility, and discipline issues that I had read and thought about, but failed to take consistent action on.
The death of a loved one forces introspection. It makes mandatory the conversations with oneself that were prior pushed down the road. Death is the end of the road.
I was unprepared for my mother’s death. I was also unprepared to live my own life. Unwilling or unable to do the work, my life’s work, on a day in day out, week in week out, month in month out, year in year out basis. Unwilling or unable to face the ups and downs, highs and lows, sacrifices and successes of adult life after divorce and depression robbed me of half of my youth.
Is there where an affirmation and promise of future success goes?
One thing that depression and grief has taught me is that actions speak so loud, words can’t be heard.
I have dug quite the hole. There must be many private victories before the public victories are worth sharing.
As I move farther along through the grieving process, the similarities and differences between grief and depression manifest and become more obvious. One difference for me became obvious the moment I saw my mother’s dead body when I ran to her room in the hospice facility. It was a difference I whispered to her over and over again while weeping after my sister gave me a few minutes alone with her.
Depression created a thought loop and therefore a feeling of hopelessness. A constant inner monolgue that it was not worth it to try.
The grief I immediately felt upon seeing my dead mother inspired five words to repeat in my head, that I vocalized and whispered over and over with the last moments I had with my mother in the physical world…
I Will Never Give Up