Overwhelming Grief

I didn’t think I would write another post about my grief after mom passed away, now almost two years ago. I mostly have my grief under control. Not a day goes by without me thinking of mom in some or other way, but the tears don’t come that frequently anymore.

Last weekend, I had a wee breakdown. Not because of my grief for mom, but because of something stupid. We are on our first semi-annual vacation at this moment and have been since the 29th of May. On Friday night we had a talk about my son wanting to buy a bicycle and it was mentioned that I can drive all over the place with him on Saturday, looking for a bike. I asked if it could also be done during this week, but also understood that he wanted the bike as soon as possible, as it will save him a lot of traveling money. Still when halfway through Saturday I got the message from him that he did want to go to the stores, I started to cry. We still had to go do some shopping and since Master T can currently not drive, I am doing all the driving, and I was really not in the mood for all of it. All I wanted was to stay home, hide behind my laptop and just do my own thing.

I said as much to Master T, immediately felt guilty, and then sat at my desk, wondering where the hell my reaction came from. And then I remembered.

Just three weeks before that, just before the second weekend of May, I also had a breakdown. And two and half months before that, in late February, I also had a breakdown. Both of those times, all I wanted was to be left alone, to just get through the days and then, when one specific day has passed, to get back to ‘normal’ again.

Late February was my birthday.

The second weekend of May was Mother’s Day.

On 4 June 2019 my mom would have celebrated her 72nd birthday.

It’s not like I consciously think of these days and then immediately think of how much I miss my mom. No, those are days when I plan ahead to go to her grave, except for Mother’s Day, because she cared as little for it as I do.

I don’t notice that I start to withdraw from those around me.

I don’t notice that my resilience is thinly spread.

I don’t notice that my mental health is taking a hit.

I only notice when it’s too late, when I snap at someone, or cry about stupid things because people around me are demanding to much from me. I am always willing to help my husband and my son and I feel like a bitch when I am like this; when I snap at them because they are asking for my help.

It was only after Mother’s Day had passed that I questioned my feelings, and realized the same had happened with my birthday. The moment my birthday had passed, I felt a lot better, stronger. The same happened after Mother’s Day. I was back to my normal self again. Had I not realized back after Mother’s Day that this happens to me with important days approaching, I wouldn’t have recognized it last weekend, with my mom’s birthday approaching. I wouldn’t have been able to tell Master T where all this comes from. I wouldn’t have been able to apologize for the harsh words I have uttered, about me always having to do the driving and sometimes just wishing I could choose what I want to do and not do what everyone else expects of me.

He understood. He understood the way he always does. He hugged me. He comforted me. He dried my tears.

Of course, as I sit here, writing this post, I wonder if there is a way to avoid feeling the way I do when these important days approach. Is there a way to prepare for it; to avoid the meltdown? What happens is a totally subconscious process. Maybe there is no way to avoid it, and maybe people are right to say that eventually it will get better, that things will not hurt as much anymore. I don’t know about that, and I guess time will tell whether they are right or not.

What I do know now, after last weekend, is that not only I, but also Master T will be aware that the meltdown can happen, that I need to take extra care of myself and my mental health, until the ‘upsetting day’ has passed.

My grief seems to always be slumbering under the surface, overwhelming me at the most unexpected times, but also making me shut down when it hurts too much. As time goes by, I will learn how to handle it. It might always overwhelm me, but at least it’s easier to handle when you know what the trigger is.

I brought flowers to mom’s grave on Tuesday, cleaned the gravestone and talked to her while I was there. On Wednesday the fog cleared some, but it took up to Thursday before I was back to my normal self again.

Until the next important day approaches…

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9 thoughts on “Overwhelming Grief

  1. The mind does a lot of things to protect us without us even realizing. Even if that protection is in the form of a breakdown. At least you realize the source and can at least try to devise ways to overcome it. Hugs to you. ❤️

  2. I am so sorry the grief is overwhelming. I wonder, could you mark your calendar a couple of days before these special days? By doing so, you acknowledge the feeling and perhaps can prepare mentally. You could plan on visiting her grave, or look at photos and talk to her. You could even spend time writing about her and the lovely times you shared together. Or, you and Master T could go somewhere special and make the times happy and not as sad.

    1. I was hoping someone would suggest this because I had planned to if I didn’t read the suggestion in any of the comments. I agree 100%. Mark the calendar. Prepare for the day. Tell loved ones ahead of time that you will need some alone time. Don’t plan anything before or after those trigger days, when you know a possible meltdown could occur.

  3. It can be really odd how our mind seems to trigger our grief because of particular occasions/circumstance and we actually have to think about it to work out why. Then suddenly it becomes clear. That has happened to me too. It is great to talk to your mum and i am sure she hears u x

  4. When my parents died within a few months of each other a decade ago I took a surprising amount of comfort from the way the Haida First Nation people (whose art I love) think about those who have gone. They believe in the continuing presence of the ancestors watching and sometimes subtlety guiding us. It wasn’t a substitute for grief but it helped me come to terms with it. I’m sorry you find it so hard and it is courageous to share so openly. These days when I pick up a tool that was my father’s or find a photo with us all in it feels positive and while it can still make me feel a little sad it also reminds me that one day I too will go to join the ancestors.

    Please take good care of yourself because in our brief acquaintance I have already understood how much you give and you also need to give yourself the room to grieve in your own way.


  5. Grief is a very personal thing and thank you for sharing how it hits you. I rather wonder if I ever actually grieved for my mother and in a way I envy that you have this process of reflection and remembrance.

    Having said that, like Floss I now find lighting candles to be soothing and reflective.

    Take care of yourself xx

  6. Grief is meant to be felt. And it will find its way to be remembered, even if subconsciously. I wouldnt fight it, but expecting it and being proactive about it might make it easier to handle. Like Floss said, take some time to be alone those days, maybe add some self care and ritual to honor the loss.

  7. I think that feeling the grief (on these days or any days) is a healthy part of the process even when it comes out in uncomfortable ways. It’s hard to shortcut around that!! We are not meant to always be composed and perfect.

    Also: “My grief seems to always be slumbering under the surface” — you write these words and they seem so poetic to me. Like “dark water” did yesterday. Perhaps the ideas are truly unconnected but my mind draws a parallel between these lines that are both about layers and depths.

  8. Oh Marie, I am sending huge hugs of understanding! My time period for struggles like this is October through November. In those months the loss of my Mum, loss of a baby, a no longer celebrated wedding anniversary (that for daft reasons I still feel as a loss, despite it being my choice we parted) and my own birthday. They all seem to conspire against me as October ebbs ever closer and it always so incredibly hard.

    This year it will be 10 years since my Mum passed away, I am expecting the fall out to be epic. A decade without her, it is overwhelming. I think where possible allowing others to comfort you, even if it’s just quietly is a good thing.

    I also found I would do nothing on a lot of these days, I’d be sad so I’d just want to sit at home, alone and cry. Now I try to do the opposite, I try to plan things that would make my Mum smile to see me doing them or I buy ridiculously indulgent food and watch movies on Netflix. This activity is hard but I think overall it helps. I also started putting out flowers for her in the house and lighting candles for those I’ve lost. The ritual nature of thinking about each one of them while I light that little flame, and then being able to sit watching them flicker has a reassuring and calming effect.

    Sending lots of warm and gentle thoughts your way xxx

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