Overcoming grief part deux : a lesson in wearing masks

Everyone processes grief differently. Lately, I've been wearing the mask of "happiness". I've done my best to be genuinely happy...really. But there are times when I'm forced to fake it. I wear a mask.

It's not that I'm really trying to go out of my way to hide something. It's simply that you get to a point in the grieving process that you begin to feel like most people really aren't interested in hearing that you're still in emotional pain. Or, you start to think that if you keep saying to your friends and family, "I miss my mom. It hurts!" That they'll begin to look at you as if you're "weak".

And we all know how we don't want to look weak, right? It's a pride-thing. Especially being a young career-woman. You want to show the world that you've got it together and that you can take care of yourself.

I remember early in my mother's treatment, after I was told that my mom's myeloma was very advanced and aggressive, I felt numb. I excused myself from work and I walked over to the Panera across the street. I ordered a bowl of soup and a hot tea and after receiving my food, I sat in the dining area, fighting back tears.
I left my food and went to the women's washroom where I broke down and started sobbing in one of the bathroom stalls. I'll never forget that day. Bawling in a public bathroom stall. Not the most dignified place to lose it, but there I was.

I prayed to God that He'd heal my mother, but if it was His will to take my mother from me, that He give me the strength to go through it.

Since then, I can honestly say that God has answered that prayer for the most part. I have handled my mother's passing with relative strength. Some might say that it was because I had far too many other things to focus on, being the executor of her estate. But there are still times when I miss her terribly. There are times I just want to call my mommy.

It's been two months since my mom went home to be with the Lord, and sometimes I still don't know how to react to the question, "How are you doing?"

I'm left to wonder, do people really want to know?

When you lose someone you love, you often try to find some sort of balance to return to. A routine to get your mind off of who you lost. There are good days and bad days. Good weeks and bad weeks.

This week, it's been bad for me. I'm sorry if that makes me sound "weak". But it's true.

Then you always want to talk to somebody, to get the grief off of your chest. But call me quirky, but I have begun to feel like perhaps some people may not really want to know how I'm doing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not singling out any particular individual.

And I sure-as-all-get-out don't want to be that person who's ALWAYS posting some sob-story on Facebook.

It's just a sense that you get that perhaps people are expecting you to get on with your life. By all rights, I should and I have in some ways. I tell myself when I start to get depressed about my mother, that I'm not the first to lose their mom to cancer, nor will I be the last. I remind myself that my mom was in a lot of pain while she was here with me in her last months, and now, she's no longer in pain. I tell myself that we who are still on earth only cry for ourselves, because we miss the ones we've lost. I remind myself that if my mom had the choice, to be here with me on earth, or to enjoy the beauty of heaven and to be in the presence of Jesus, she'd choose to be with Jesus knowing that she raised my brother and I to be faithful in Christ and that we'd see her again one day on the other side of things.

But I still miss my mommy.

I can hear some people now, "So why post a blog about your grief, Misty? You just went on about how no one wants to hear about it!"

Well, that's true. But grief can be isolating. Particularly if someone out there feels the way I do. That they're still sad, but they feel as though if they haven't moved past it, or if they aren't putting it aside, that they're somehow not grieving "correctly". That there's something "wrong" with them. I thought to myself that maybe someone else out there is going through what I'm going through. Maybe they lost a father or a sister or a brother and they feel as though they're alone in their grief.

I wanted to reassure anyone who misses someone they love: you're not alone.

Or maybe I'm the one who needs reassurance?

In an effort to focus my heartache into something more productive, I've been researching multiple myeloma and I wanted to generate more awareness about the disease.

Multiple Myeloma is the second most common blood cancer, right behind Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Yet no one has ever heard of it. I've reached out to doctors and some friendly folks at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) who have agreed to help me. So I'm looking forward to that. I don't want my mother's passing to be for nothing.

Tomorrow, the MMRF is hosting a 5K run/walk ( "Race for Research") to raise money to fund research for new medicines that can help prolong the lives of those effected my myeloma.

My brother and I will be there. Not just to run, but to join a community of others who have been touched by this disease in one way or another.

I suppose that's what really matters when you're dealing with grief. You have to find others who have been through something similar. Not to wallow in self-pity, but to find fellowship with others who have gone through what you've gone through or who may be going through what you're going through right now.

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    Thanks for this Misty. Both my parents died when I was young and it took me years to get over the loss.

    I wrote an article about my own healing process here: http://theotherenlightenment.com/how-grief-gets-trapped-in-the-body/ The articles includes a guided meditation to release sadness and grief, which you might find useful. Let me know what you think.

  • In reply to Mark Fourman:

    Thank you so much for reaching out, Mark. As soon as I'm able, I'll take advantage of the links you sent me. Like I said, I've been able to go through this with relative strength, but I have my bad days too. I look forward to reading your articles and I'll get back to you soon.

  • My parents died young as well. I never grieved properly, wore a mask too soon, and later the grief caught up with me.

    The days will be cloudy (it seems) for a time, then more and more sun will break through, and with that sun, acceptance and a type of peace. Your journey to this light will be your own, but do not be afraid to take others (such as this reader) along if they want to come. But a journey to healing you must take, and it will show you the way if you listen.

    May you find the Peace that is beyond all understanding. I think you will.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Thank you so much. At first, I was hesitant to write about what I was going though. Like I said, you get the feeling that some people will ask you how you're doing...but they're really not interested in hearing that you're still hurting from the loss of a loved one. They want to hear that you're doing better. I don't think that it's a negative or selfish thing, I just believe that unless a person has lost a parent, sibling or spouse, they really don't understand that loss and they can't wrap their head around it. I guess that's what eventually lead me to go ahead and write about grieving for my mom. I can reach out and connect with people who have already gone through it and people who are currently going through it can reach out to me. Perhaps we all can get some sort of therapy out of it. Thank you again for reaching out. I do appreciate it.

  • Hi Misty,
    Like you, my Mother lost her battle with multiple myeloma. A cancer very few are aware of. It has been 13 years and I miss her everyday. There is always something which reminds me of her. Sometimes it is a rose in my garden or a phrase of her's that comes out of my mouth or my now adult children who always have stories about visits to Granny's. They are good memories - ones that make you smile. Your Mother will always be with you. It will take time - take that time.

  • In reply to carolt:

    I'm so sorry to hear that you and your mother were touched by this awful disease. It's crazy that myeloma is the second most common blood cancer, yet I'd never even heard of it before my mother was diagnosed. It seems like that is the case with most of the people I've talked to in regards to myeloma. They'd never heard of it until "insert-family-member-here" was diagnosed. That really needs to change. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation will be creating a group of young professionals that will coordinate efforts to raise awareness for myeloma. My heart goes out to you and anyone who has been affected by this blood cancer. I miss my mom terribly. Not only did I lose my mom on the day she passed, but I lost my best friend. It's been hard for sure. Again, I have some good days, but this past week was a little rough. Thank you for reaching out.

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