Honest, notes on grief

The shame of falling apart

I don’t remember when I told him this but at some point I told my pastor, that my room was a direct reflection of my mental health. And it’s something he remembers and every now and then will ask me how my room is- asking me how I’m doing in a different way.

My room has been in disarray since August.

August was when I came back from first surprising my parents in Kingsburg (I left with a sense of foreboding that it would be the last time I saw my mom alive) and then had been in Hawaii for a friend’s wedding for about a week.

I was emotionally drained and on the edge of absolute physical shutdown. It was during that week in Hawaii that I realized I had to quit my job, I needed to make the leap, move on and try to breathe again.

I needed to try to find myself in what felt like the chaos I created.

I’ve talked about this before, but I started to breathe again.

I emptied my closet out to go through it, I was beginning to piece by piece put myself back together.

Then my mom died and the chaos stayed.

The effort it feels like it’s going to take to put it all back together still sometimes feels absolutely overwhelming.

I feel as if I had a perfect storm of grief, burnout, teaching in a pandemic, anxiety and so many other things. And I have to remember something in all of it:

It’s going to take more than a few months to heal.

Today in church, I was reminded by someone that I was important and that I needed to take care of myself.

Woof.

And right now, all that’s trying to run through my head are the ways I’m horrible at taking care of myself. All the ways I’ve been a bad, absent friend. The giant pile of clothes in the corner of my room, the fact my calendar still says January. The ways I’m incapable of doing enough. How I’m unable to do what people need me to do because I am fearful of crashing again.

But, if I sit I can also see tangible ways that I am taking care of myself and I have to remember that.

The pile of clean clothes means that I am doing laundry.

The plate on my bedside table means I have eaten today.

My cleaned off desk that now houses my vanity and makeup means that I am taking time to sit and do my makeup and I had to buy more moisturizer today because even if I don’t wear makeup, everyday I sit in my chair and put moisturizer on.

I had to scrounge for shampoo because I ran out, so I’m showering.
I had to refill my water bottle because even though I usually suck at it, I am drinking water today.

And the tears currently running down my face remind me that I’m still allowing myself to feel.

I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t take care of myself. I’m well aware that I’ve not been doing well.
I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t feel like I’m showing up for the people around me.

But with all that I have to remember the ways, even in the midst of the bad days where I don’t feel like I’ll ever feel whole again, that I’m still moving forward, I’m still creating habits that take care of myself even in little ways like putting moisturizer on my face or listening to podcasts while I get ready..

I have to remember that it wasn’t just my mom dying. It was also the end of a time of life living in high stress. It was living and teaching kids in a pandemic. It was friendships ending.

It was a lot.

So, if right now, if keeping my bed and my desk clear and my floor mostly clear is all I can do, so be it. If for this season my white board calendar stays on January and I just use my google calendar, so be it. If I mostly eat bagged salads and bagels and frozen things from Trader Joe’s, so be it.

Taking the shame out of the things I don’t feel capable of and putting the focus on doing what I can to be human, to live and to move forward in my day.

This is hard to even say but I think I am actually proud of myself. I’m proud that I show up. I am proud that I’ve realized I actually have to eat in the day.

I’m proud that I’ve found new ways to self care.

I’m proud that I let myself cry,

Because I am important and I need to take care of myself.

Honest, notes on grief

From behind a wall

To actually sit and force myself to write- to just let words flow feels incredibly anxiety-provoking right now. But it also feels like one of those things that if I don’t sit in front of a computer and just let my thoughts out for others to read, I might be stuck on the other side forever.

I don’t want to get stuck, but I feel almost as if I am stuck in a perpetual wheel that causes me to be unable to just write. To pull out thoughts and share them.

Most days, I think, I am doing pretty ok. I am living in this new view of life with a lot of things on my brain- some I don’t really talk about (that’s the 20%) and some I don’t want to talk about because it makes me cry. I am a little bit fearful that this is just how life is now. That I am going to be sad forever and that there isn’t really anything to do to fix it. I know that isn’t the case. I know there isn’t anything to fix.

I know painful things happen and we just must keep walking in the direction that we are meant to walk.

I’m supposed to be writing a piece for the website I write for about the hope I find in choosing to trust my own balance. In choosing to know that I’ve been through some shit and that I am stronger and more capable to withstand things than I think I am.

I’m supposed to be writing about the hope I have in the strength I’ve been given.

You know that word I hate, “resilience”.

 But all I want to do right now is delete the 275 words that came before this sentence.

This though is my reality.

Some days, I am truly ok, some days I’m just not and some days are like a little fruit salad of all of it.

But I don’t want to get stuck with an inability to write down my words.

I know I’ve shared this here before, but when I was little, I was so terrified to confront people when I had hurt feelings or was scared. And I would write my mom notes and tuck them in the chair she was sitting in and run away.

I’ve always used writing to communicate my emotions, articulate what is in my brain and conceptualize the thoughts that are tricky for me to decipher.

I write to untangle.

And currently, I am still actively untangling grief, untangling the relationship I had with my mom, and untangling some things that I don’t necessarily feel ready to communicate.

And I’m grappling with the fact that I don’t feel strong enough or capable enough or old enough to be dealing with any of this.

Normally, at the end of a string of words with a lot of questions, not a ton of answers, and what feels like a lack of hope I’d usually tag a PS to my mom who read every word I wrote, to let her know that I am in fact; ok.

Because at the end of the day, I am. I’m ok. I’m moving forward, I’m living. I’m just a little less than sometimes.

So, Mom, I’m ok. I’m moving forward, I’m living, I’m just a little less than right now.

And that is ok.

With love,

Meg

Honest, hope is a verb, notes on grief

My moment one.

Today while sitting in church, I went down a supreme tears rabbit hole. It is something that happens frequently when I allow myself to be still. And I’m not ashamed of my tears or my sadness or grief, it’s just that my modus operandi is to just keep moving forward and to save my moments of tears for when I’m alone and in my own space.

But grief really doesn’t care.

A favorite photo of my mom and I

Last week we talked about our word of the year for 2021. Mine was shift. And shift I did. I quit my job, shifted away from relationships, shifted I deemed important.

The big one, obviously, was quitting the job I had, had for over six years. I didn’t know why then I was pressed to quit- nothing major had happened, I didn’t leave on bad terms, I just had this feeling that I needed to make this change for myself. I needed to walk away from something incredibly stressful.

Five weeks later my mom died.

So, the reason for the shift I didn’t really know until that moment. I knew it was for me, for my mental health and stress levels, but I didn’t realize that the reason I need to walk in a period of stress relief was because the stress was going to hit incredibly hard in ways I hadn’t felt before.

That leads me to my word for this year. At the beginning of 2021, I read Hannah Brencher’s book “Fighting Forward” and there was a passage that hit me then and today it came back to me. In the book she is discussing her new years words and what that looks like and she quoted a scripture from Jeremiah and this phrase popped out to her, “The city will be rebuilt on her ruins”.

And I started to think about how heartbroken I am, my family, the people around my mother were when she passed. I started to think about how much it might feel as if the lives of those she left behind are in ruins because of her leaving this earth.

But then, I started to think about how ruins aren’t always a bad thing.

Ruins can be the start of something good, something new, something more beautiful than before. Ruins are apart of the restorative process. You just have to sift through all of it and find what is yours to keep.

All I want in this world is one more phone call, one more time for my mom to nag me about my eyebrows, to ask me if I’m warm enough. One more, “I love you my sweet girl”.

Instead I’m left sifting through the heartbreak and ruins to see what can become of them.

To see what parts of my mom I’m carrying to use to rebuild.

I always get a little nervous when it comes to finding my word of the year. That may sound silly but for someone such as myself who finds deep hope in words, it’s always something that truly ends up meaning something in my life.

As I sat with what it might mean to rebuild ruins I wrote out words, that popped into my brain and sifted through synonyms. Begin, embrark, start, innovate.

Until I wrote the word “create” and something settled inside.

It might seem silly for me, as a writer, to settle on the word create. But as someone who has been standing on ruins for a long time, someone who has spent a great deal creating from a place of pulling myself up over the ruins, I believe it’s time for me to create something out of them.

I have so much hope in the word create.

I ended 2021 feeling like I was a bit out of hope. I stood on my porch after midnight holding a glass of champagne (barefoot in 20 degree weather) and it felt a bit like I was look out into an ocean- you know the vast feeling of looking out over the water at night not knowing what is sky and what is ocean. And it felt incredibly overwhelming.

But today, I wrote the word create and I felt something that felt light. Not new. But me.

I don’t know what ruins you’re building on from this past year. I don’t know what heartache or grief or anger you’re walking through.

I don’t know if you need to walk away and rebuild away from the ruins, or if like me you need to find the beauty in the ruins.

Whichever it is, I want to remind you that you’re already on the other side of something. You’ve made it to a shore (even if it’s a small island amid an ocean).

We can rebuild whatever we may need too.

This is my moment one.

Let’s see what happens.

with love,

Meg

notes on grief

Beginning notes on grief

I have been wanting to write the last three weeks but if I’m being honest the thought of writing has seemed heavy and has seemed like it would make the world around me more real than I was capable of dealing with.

For those of you only follow me in this corner of the internet I have yet to share this here: three weeks ago my mom died.

She died in her home, the one I grew up in, surrounded by her husband, us three kids and ¾ of her grandkids- one being away at college and a handful of her nieces and nephews. More family came in that night and over the course of the next week or two that lead up to the memorial we had for her last week.

I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about my mom or see the words on a screen but I knew that if I didn’t begin to write something it would get progressively harder to do so.

This morning I opened my journal in church and aggressively wrote out my thoughts on writing before the tears threatened too quickly.  I tend to write around what’s going on in my life. I tend to write to work things out, to untangle them, to remind anyone who might be in the same space as me that they aren’t alone.

I can easily say that of all the grief I’ve ever dealt with or felt I’ve never met this monster in my life. I’m doing my best to be kind to myself, to take help, to ask for hugs, to cry- but it’s really, really hard. Even right now as I write this I’m blinking back tears.

My mom commented on everything I wrote. She would make sure to call and tell me she had read things and I usually got a text after I posted a blog that she “loved my ‘she writes on Sundays’”.

I’m sure I will write more. I will write with tears down my face, I will write through anger and now, I am writing out of exhaustion and the desire to put words on a page.

Grief is a lot. More than any human can actually fully grasp.

I miss my mom a lot. It’s still not real that I won’t be able to hug her or call her or have her nag me to go to the doctor.

But here I am, to the best of my ability, moving,