Grief is something we have all experienced in some way or another. And if you haven’t, give it time and you will. Maybe it’s the loss of a parent, a spouse, child, friend. Maybe it’s the loss of a job, the use of part of your body and that’s what you are or have been grieving over. It doesn’t matter what the situation, grief is grief. And it hurts like crazy.
I’ve experienced grief in many different forms. I think the most difficult have been the loss of both of my parents and my maternal grandmother. I was at the bedside of all three of these important people in my life. Each one was difficult.
When my grandmother died, I was 19 and alone with her in the hospital room. My mom and I had been taking shifts of staying by her side (throughout the time she had been staying at the hospital), because there were so few nurses and my grandmother didn’t really know where she was. She also would try to get out of the bed and go look for my mom if no one was around. One time my mom was out in the hall talking to one of the nurses and my grandmother had pulled the IV out of her arm, crawled down to the end of the bed (the side rails had been up), climbed over the end and made her way out to the hall. So, we decided that someone should be with her at all times. It just so happened that I was the one with her that evening.
While she took her final breaths, I held my grandmother’s hand, stroked her hair, and looked her in the eye with love. I felt her hand being removed from mine as the nurse took it to feel for her pulse. I laid my head in my arms at her bedside and wept and wept. She was gone.
My dad’s death was pretty hard to. He was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in March 2008. By the end of July, he was given just a matter of time to live. I made the choice to leave Korea a few weeks earlier than I was supposed to (despite having major difficulties with this whole process). Thankfully, I was able to spend a week with my dad before he died. This time I wasn’t alone as he passed. My mom and my dad’s siblings and his two nieces, and my sister-in-law were there with me.
I’d say that my mom’s death had the greatest impact on me. It’s still pretty recent, too. I had quit my job to go take care of her. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she was in the early stages of dementia. I was rather close to my mom, especially after my dad died.
I had also made the decision (and then contacted my brother to see if he thought I should do this) to take her to the hospital (for the last time), because she was getting quite weak. She was admitted to palliative care because of her situation, and she didn’t leave the hospital again until she passed away. My older brother and I were with her. He was reading, I was sitting in a chair at her side, and witnessed her take her final breath.
I stayed very long hours, every day, with my mom. I was getting run down and having a hard time taking care of my own self. I was riddled with guilt because I felt like I hadn’t taken good enough care of her – that I could have, and should have, done better. This is something that still bothers me from time to time. She was getting better care in the hospital, but I still felt that there was more I could have done.
My mom passed away two weeks before Christmas in 2016. I went through so much grief at that time, more than I think I have felt for anyone else in the past (and that makes me feel guilty as well). I can’t even begin to describe how her death made me feel. Thankfully, I had great support from my husband (and others). Even now, I find that little things I remember about my mom, or something she would like or would like to have done, can trigger great sadness and depression in me.
I’m learning to deal with my grief in a positive way. I’m learning to turn it over to the Lord, pray, find my comfort in Him. I know one day I’ll see these precious people again, but that isn’t always enough to comfort me. I think it’s important that I deal with my grief; to not bottle it up. There’s nothing wrong with feeling the sadness, with being angry, or crying. What I need to remember is not to dwell there for long periods of time because then it’s much harder to get back to a “happy place.” I’m learning to find healthy ways of dealing with my grief. It’s certainly not easy, but I need to do this for my mental health.
I know that until the day I die I will face grief again and again. But having the tools in place to help me get through those situations is the best thing I can do. But it’s more than just having them – it’s using them. That is vital. If you don’t use the tools, how can you expect to overcome your hurt?
I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but it’s what’s been on my mind lately.