Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Another day, another sweater

This was our first weekend at the cabin after Mom died. We, the five of us, had decided to do Hannah’s birthday there instead of at my dad’s place. It was good for everyone else, I think. I had work-related difficulties to overcome, and that didn’t help anything.

I’ve been hostile. Not always angry, exactly. Just constantly hostile. In the right moments, I know I’ve been a jackass, but when it’s happening, I just get defensive and irritable. I’m oscillating between sad and hostile. It’s no good. I cried in the car nearly the whole way to work this morning. I was up until 2A.M., pouring out an angry stream of consciousness drivel that was more than 1000 words more than I had intended to write.

Because I have nothing more profound to say than the email I wrote this morning, I’m going to post that. This is in response to a fairly anonymous email I received on February 13th, just after noon. The recipient contacted me to say that she did the same thing with her boyfriend's mother a year earlier, and that she cried with each entry.

Hi Katie,

Thank you for your kind words. As I'm sure you realized, your email reached me the day my mother died. I read your message with sadness but some strange sense of sisterhood and appreciation.

With all that has happened in the last months, I've learned to appreciate the small blessings. Dwelling on what is horrible isn't going to diminish my grief any faster, and while these blessings won't either, being aware of them makes the days go by a little more smoothly. One of those blessings is that other people are in this with me. Two of my good friends have done this same thing--one with her stepmother, one with her partner's mother--and they know what I was going through and what I am going through. You have done this too.

I didn't have any resources for what to do in my situation. My friends were great and could relate, but they didn't have any record of their own experiences. The details fade over time and are not available to you years down the road. They recognized the details in what I wrote and said, but they couldn't describe them for me.

I only recently found out about Anne Lamott's novel, Hard Laughter, in which she describes a family's struggle with cancer. It may well cut in line of other the books on my reading list, because it's Anne Lamott, and she's funny. She wrote it in part so that it's a funny book about cancer. I need that right now, and I thought you might like to know that it's out there.

Again, thank you. I hope POG didn't remind you too much of your loss, but that if it did, it somehow salves the pain. That sisterhood thing is powerful, and we can be comforted by the small blessing of our connections.



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