A few days ago, I received an email from a reader named J. who asked for advice on dealing with the death of a loved one and thanked me for the honest posts I wrote following my own mother’s death in December 2008. I still miss Mama Jolie very much, but luckily the sharp edges have faded: the loss is as much part of my life as my (dyed) blonde hair or my love of Pearl Jam, so its familiarity has diminished the sting.
When my mom died, I felt pretty good that first year – much, much better than you would imagine. There were some very dark times, but I also felt a renewed sense of purpose, a clarity about what I wanted to do with my life, and an appreciation for my family and friends. However, I eventually began to feel like people had forgotten about me, forgotten about my grief, forgotten to ask how I was, and as I passed the one year anniversary of her death, that feeling only intensified. It took me a couple of years to move through the darkness and get over the resentment, but luckily I’m fully on the other side now.
It can be tempting to take it personally when people don’t reach out to see how you are–particularly in those inevitable times when you feel angry, sad and alone–but it’s entirely possible they feel awkward and don’t know what to say. I had to remind myself: just because your friends aren’t reaching out doesn’t mean they’re not thinking of you. And, of course, everybody has their own issues to deal with and things to worry about, so while you’re missing your person, they might be wrestling with demons of their own. Patience and the benefit of the doubt work wonders.
Finally, I’m a huge advocate of therapy! (I see Dr. Helen Landon in Santa Monica and she’s great.) Talk it out, hug it out, cry it out, do what you need to do. Personally, I drank it out, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that path! Assuming you’re open to it, however, life DOES go on, and it WILL get better.
Hugs and love,