I must say that my friends have been most helpful to me in dealing with grief. Apparently, I had said something useful to a friend when her father died, which was at some point after my father died: “Just so you know, I often think of (and quote) your message to me after my dad died, that grief is a non-linear thing. Still happens, in the most unexpected places.”
Well, THAT’S right. Besides the situations already mentioned in this blog, in the past couple months, I’ve cried at:
* sad songs that have nothing to do with my mother, or death
* the mournful sound of train whistles
* an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, where a young father dies before he can take his son to the big game; I believe he had a stroke, which might be a factor for me
Of course, the other thing that’s in play is that this is my LAST parent who is gone. As another friend in the same position noted: “Now there’s no one ‘above’ you. That’s pretty weird, huh? We miss our parents as individuals, but also for the roles they played.” And since both of my parents were only children, I NEVER had aunts, uncles, first cousins. I mean, my PARENTS had aunts and uncles and cousins, but my sisters and I never did. And I’m the oldest of my generation.
A doctor of one of my sisters recommended the book Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping With Grief and Change After the Death of Our Parents by Alexander Levy, printed by Perseus Publishing, ISBN 0-7362-0361-0. It shows up on this list of resources to help one deal with grief. The book is at a library affiliated with the Albany Public Library, and I’ve just received it on interlibrary loan.
Another friend wrote: “You’d like to know following my own mother’s death, we have had a great healing. And it has brought our family closer with annual holiday gatherings.” Well, maybe. Certainly, the pathologies of my family were less evident this time than after my father died.
I had forgotten how many of my Albany friends had met my mother at some point when she came up to visit. They all used terms such as “delightful”, “a lovely woman”. One of my old Binghamton friends wrote: “I always liked your mom. She was very down to earth and unpretentious. I loved her smile and how it always warmed up the room.”