Reflections on Mourning Loved Ones, and Change
By Dan Hess
Change can be sudden. We don’t always get a heads up.
I lost my mother recently, with little to no warning. Nine months before that, I lost my stepmother. In neither instance did I really get to talk to them one last time. Two of the pillars of my life were gone forever.
In the midst of grief and of sadness was confusion: how could they be gone? I’d look up and expect to see them around every corner. Life was not in my control. Change hit me like a sledgehammer.
In my mother’s case in particular, as her health declined, I took care of her more and more, a situation which itself gained a kind of stability. I was connected to her profoundly and I didn’t see it changing anytime soon.
Her life and mine were so interconnected for so many years that it feels like I lost a part of myself.
We had the funeral for her, and the wake, in this strange era of Covid (we were between the Delta and the Omicron peaks), but I never got the chance to quietly celebrate her. So, on New Year’s Eve, I collected some of the things that were special to her, and arranged them on a table. I didn’t insist that anyone else look at it, it was my own ceremony.
Mood disorders, too, can come with little to no warning., but they do come to some of us, the depressive episode, the manic episode. It can be shocking the first time around, and terrifying to feel like we are not in control of our minds or our thoughts. To make things worse, we are usually confronted with an indifferent world that doesn’t know or care about our condition and can be judgmental because we don’t act “normally.”
Coming to terms with a mood disorder, even learning how it works in our brains and affects our world, can take a little or a lot out of me. The change may be sudden, the understanding is not. It can be very personal. Similar to grieving, what you feel is what you feel, and when you feel it, is when you feel it. Tomorrow or next month may be different.
Dan Hess is a member of the MDSG Board.
Editor Book Recommendation: Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth and David Kessler. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Simon and Schuster, 2014.
A beautifully written book that helped me through the grieving process. This was the author’s last book.