Planning your grief, a way of coping and remembering those we’ve lost

By 14th of December 2015, Christmas and the holiday seasons were rapidly approaching. Any other year, I’d be stressing out over which gifts to buy my family, think about the witty rhymes I’d be writing for my gifts or look forward to a family vacation over the holidays. The latter became more and more common over the years, as my family became less interested in gifts and more interested in experiences.

This year, I was standing next to my mother’s hospital bed, listening to her last breaths together with my brother and my dad. While being an extremely sad moment, it was also one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced.

It kicked off a period in my life that I will look back on as a time with moments of intense grief, happiness and bonding together with my brother and my dad.

During the fall, my mother spent most of her time either in hospitals or at home under the care of either me or my dad. We would soon learn that she had been afflicted by Glioblastoma. Cancer. In the beginning she had issues with her balance, became easily fatigued and slept a lot. Other than that, she was the same as she’d always been. We’d smile, laugh and she’d ask me if we could sneak in some ice cream after lunch. We always did.

When it was me and her, we’d sit on the couch, drink coffee and laugh at the same stupid television shows as we’ve always done.

It was one of the things I loved most about our relationship and one that I still treasure deeply in my closest friends. The ability to talk and laugh about nothing in particular, while still being very aware of what the other person is feeling and being able to have a serious discussion when time calls for it.

One way of dealing with the loss of my mom has been to listen to how others have experienced losing their loved ones. I’ve heard stories of people crying on their beds, suffering emotional trauma, experiencing depression and feeling unable to function in their daily lives. In a way, I’ve prided myself on keeping my life on relatively good track during these last few months. I’ve started a new job at a company that I’m growing to love, maintained relationships with my friends, climbed more than I’ve ever done before (hello, coping mechanism) and even strengthened my relationships with my dad and brother.

During the last few days, I’ve been sitting at my desk as usual, while occasionally feeling short intensive shocks to my chest.

At first, it was a new feeling that I started to enjoy and I’d always smile on the inside when it happened. Two days ago, I started becoming worried, as the shocks occurred more frequently. After a climbing session, I discussed it with my friend, who talked of a similar feeling after watching his colleague suffer a similar tragedy to mine. He told me that it’s possible that I’m repressing my grief, and advised me to plan my grief.

Take a moment to sit down, turn on the triggers that puts you in a vulnerable state and just let everything out. I’m hoping this will stop the shocks, while also appeasing my inner demons telling me that I can’t even grieve my mom properly. Tonight was my first attempt, and I went for the golden combination of her favourite song (Bruce Springsteen-The River) while looking at old family photos.

It didn’t take more than a few minute before grief washed over me.

I rounded off my session with writing this post, and it seems to have put me in a calm and relaxed state. This method of grieving is something I want to expand further on, and with time turn into a memorial moment for family members I’ve lost over the years. I’ll round this off by thanking my friend, and hoping that this way of grieveing will be of help to you as well.

Be well!

Jonas

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