No longer Adelaide's lament...'s mine.

If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that I am grieving the loss of my mother. No, she has not physically left this plane but she is not my mother as I knew her. The proverbial tide has turned and I am now the adult caregiver and she is the child.

Somewhere I bought into the fact that one is not allowed to grieve (lamenting is within bounds) until an actual death occurs. Not. It is not that I haven't shed a fair share of tears over all this but I do not think I have allowed myself the journey of grief.

Today, while guest speaking at the Light of Life CRS, the wonderful musical director, Daniel Hendrick sang his song, "You Are Not Alone" and I began to sob. The words of the song was paean to my Mother and even in my professional mode, I allowed myself to be at my mother's bedside and let Daniel sing this song to her, from me. Phrases stuck out in their bittersweet significance..."take a breath..." Ah, there's the rub. If she had quit smoking as she was advised to do five years ago, she might be home or at least, breathing without the use of an oxygen tank 24/7. "Accept the gift I bring you of the present...Know that you are not alone." Ouch. Even in her sometimes delusional states of mind, I bring her the gift of present time. And lo, though I am not physically able to be with her all the time, she is not alone because God is always present with her. Pass the tissues, please.

By golly, I am smack in the middle of a grieving process and I didn't see it. I knew I was not in denial in the sense of thinking that my mother's health and situation was something other than it is; but I was denying myself the opportunity to lament it. A few weeks ago, I was gifted a wonderful book, Grieving the Death of a Mother by Harold Ivan Smith, and I put it aside thinking I am not supposed to read it until she actually dies. Isn't that silly? The author even constructed the title to be inclusive of the process and I denied it.

Admittedly of late, I was having more spurts of sadness. I wanted to articulate these instances but did not have the right word to describe what I felt was going on. I love to make up new words or phrases. Correction:I don't make words up, they come to me as needed. The words form themselves out of the circumstance at hand. Even though there is certainly a sufficiency of words to use, they are not always ones that fit just the porridge in the children's story.

Petit mal ("the little death") is used to describe an epileptic episode. That almost fit what I was experiencing. But this was grief, not death. Since I was thinking French derivations, how about "grievette" --a little episode of grief? For me, it better describes the little puffs of grief that pouf out the way tempera paint does when you put the lid back on the can. Pouf.

Or maybe the word 'grievance' better conveys my situation. Since that word also defines the encumbrance and annoyance that can accompany the feeling of sadness that descends upon you.

What I know about grief from the ministerial work and training I have done, is that a new circumstance of grief can open (or re-open) grievances from one's past. Each chance to grieve, mourn and lament a person, place or thing, opens the door for further grieving and healing of something else unhealed or unresolved.

It is almost a year since I left Pacific Church. It would be unrealistic to think that there would not be sadness at leaving employment after six and a half years. And it would be foolish to not recognize that it was more than leaving a job; this was the loss of a church and a transition of a vision. (nb: transitions are not always negative; but usually challenging nonetheless). Jeez, in the transition and release of PCRS, I 'lost' a community and a workplace all in one fell swoop. Maybe, just maybe, I can allow myself some slack when any reminders or tender spots pop up.

If I dare say that I mourn the loss of the vision and the work I did for PCRS, no doubt someone will bemoan that I should be over it by now and ... "it's time to let it go". I completely concur. And I am also aware of the clinical state of "the year of firsts". The first year after a transition when one experiences life in a cycle that no longer contains what it used to. Usually this applies to another human. "This is the first holiday without him/her/them." My first year is almost complete and I can now look back and be content in how I handled it all.

And now, I can use that wisdom and experience to walk through this transition of releasing my mother. I can be less impatient with myself; and less judgmental of her. Perhaps I can even offer support to others to assist them in their transitions and teach them how to grieve in authenticity and style.

What I do know is that I want to ensure for myself and others the opportunity, the means and the safety by which one can rant, rave, keen, wail and otherwise lament without incurring fear, doubt, guilt or shame and still remain true to the process.


Ah. Now doesn't that feel better?


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