Monday, March 19, 2007

What Relief?

I've never felt so supported through a situation in my life. My friends, family, and writing buddies from my loops and memberships have sent so many emails and cards to encourage me through this time of grief. Since mom died and her brain was donated to the Brain Bank, I've felt continually lifted up. Thank you.

Something odd happened though. Lots of friends at church and in my business life have made the comment that I must feel relieved. Then they go on to say it's okay to feel relief. I think some folks must feel that way and then feel guilty for the sense of relief.

The strange thing for me is that I don't feel relief at all. Gut check. Nope. Not there. In fact, I've gone through some of the stages of grief like sadness and anger, but not anything close to relief. Huh. What's wrong with me? Aren't I supposed to feel relieved? Relieved of what? I don't get it at all.

Then one of the cards from a beloved family member came. My Aunt Lu sent it. She had taken care of her mother for probably twice the 6 plus years I've taken care of mine. She wrote this to me-

"May the Lord give you peace and comfort as you adjust to the passing of your mother. You did a great service for her during the last years of her life."

Long sigh. I connected. I felt understood. I didn't have to wonder where was that elusive "relief" feeling everyone was talking about. I could simply adjust.

Daily, I adjust. Mom wasn't an easy person to help. She fought me regularly. She didn't want to take her meds, or believe she had diabetes, or get the eye surgery to stop the bleeding and macular degeneration, or you name it. I spent so much energy finding ways to get around her determination to harm herself through neglect that I just got used to it. Working with mom's twisted thought patterns became a normal thing.

The nurses would call and say, "Eva's having a problem today. We can't get her to calm down. She thinks her cat is still alive and that someone has kidnapped it."

I'd get on the phone and talk her down from her delusion. Or she'd think my brother was standing outside calling her to come. I'd talk her back into eating her meal or going to bed. Lots of calls, lots of visits when she wouldn't calm down.

There was the rattlesnake incident. Her meds were switched by one of the many doctors. They clashed. She freaked. We ended up in the E.R. all day while she screamed in pain from rattlesnake bites that weren't happening. Man, that was a hard day!

You'd think I'd feel relief, wouldn't you? No more late night calls that she fell and broke a tailbone. No more calls to calm her fears. No more pleas to go out to pizza. ("But mom, we just went to pizza. Wouldn't you like something else?")

I'm adjusting. I'm not sure what to do with my days and nights. Not that I don't have a ton of things to do. My list is a mile long. I can't figure out what to do because I'm used to being interrupted when I least expect it. I have a sense that someone should call and tell me I need to meet them at the E.R. again because Eva refused to use her walker and hit her head for the umpteenth time.

Adjusting to not being embarrassed by awful comments in a restaurant, to walking at whatever pace I want to walk, to talking about her past tense. That's a really weird problem.

I'm also planning all the questions I'm going to ask her one day in heaven. That might be the biggest adjustment of all. The day I meet my real mom. The one who I've so desperately wanted to know all my life. That'll be such a good day:-)

If you are grieving, which describes your feelings best? Relief or adjusting? Here's a prayer I'm praying for myself today. Please feel free to pray it for yourself too. (We Lutherans have a habit of sharing written prayers:-) ) It could be used for anything because God knows our situation specifically. He's hearing our hearts as if we are looking straight into his eyes. He knows what you mean, what I mean, and wants to listen.

Dear Lord Jesus,
Please help me to adjust. Help my heart to turn more to you than to band-aid fixes. Walk with me today. I seem to be lost. Draw me into your arms so that I recognize you. Help me to focus properly and not be overly sensitive to the wrong things. Today's a weird day. Can you just handle it for me? Sometimes it feels like people are pushing me too fast. Like I'm expected to move on before I'm ready. Could you just slow it all down and let me rest? I'm so grateful for life, but I need a breather from the business of life.
Thank you,
In Jesus name,
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