Monday, July 16, 2012

Strange numbness of mourning

There's something strange about the process of mourning I'm experiencing. Objectively, my mother's death was the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life.  She was my mother, the one who bore me, nursed me and raised me.  Despite (or perhaps because) of our conflicts, she was an overwhelming presence in my life.  Her absence leaves a hole in my life--all the things I wish I could discuss, the advice I wish I could call upon, the achievements of my children I wish I could share.   Her support, her wisdom, her voice, her laugh, her opinions (solicited and unsolicited), all that is gone, forever.

And yet I must say that after the initial devastation, I feel strangely at ease.  I don't feel particularly depressed.  (I'm sure the anti-depressants are helping in this regard.)  I seldom cry when I think of her or recite kaddish for her.  My father and I even cracked jokes when the mortician came to take her body away and as we were dumping the dirt on her coffin.  Even now, when I think to myself "my mother died," I feel more a sense of numbness than of pain.  Come to think of it, I felt more broken up and emotionally wrought after a women I loved dumped me when I was in my early 20s.

Why is this?  Several possibilities suggest themselves.  Perhaps the anti-depressants (Lexipro, 10 milligrams).  Perhaps because I know that everyone experiences the death of a parent and now it's my turn.  Perhaps because her death marked the end of the suffering and pain she experienced dealing with pancreatic cancer, especially in her last month.  Perhaps because she faced her own end with dignity and honesty and was wholly at peace with the idea of leaving this world.  Perhaps because the process of mourning has moved me into a community of other mourners and shul goers, whose presence support me emotionally and spiritually. Probably a bit of all these.

I almost feel a bit guilty that I'm not more grief filled.  When I speak about her death to others, it's more with a shrug of resignation (what can you do?) than of a broken heart.  Not to say I am done with tears.  I'm still waiting for more.  They just don't feel very close to the surface right now.

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