As I write today, I am getting ready to go to a funeral for a loved one’s Mom. He’s never gone through this before, and the process is painful to watch. I have friends with their moms near the end of life or with an illness that prevents them from bouncing back. Others are overwhelmed with the paperwork of the estate of their loved ones while grappling with tears. None of these are simple passages, and so many memories have touched me through these experiences.
Decisions we make during our caregiving days and afterward are essential to make peace with. Making them can often be almost paralyzing. Health care decisions, in-home care vs. care facilities, what if they ultimately are the wrong ones?
I’ll never forget the days after my Mom passed. The day I had to pick up her ashes alone. I was in a surreal state of mind as I placed her box in the passenger seat beside me, attaching the seat belt around her. “Ma, I need to get you home safely.” The state of shock, the memories that flooded as I stared down at her box wrapped in velvet, was a feeling I cannot put into words. I was in such a daze (even though I knew her death was imminent) that days went by like minutes.
I remember going through her closet and taking things to donate the day after she died. Harsh? No. Going through her clothes would be one of the most challenging things I would have to do, so I acted upon it while I was still in a complete blur. It seemed to dull the pain of it a bit. Putting together an estate sale was pure insanity, but it was important for me to tend to my parent’s belongings with care as they had done for them for so many years before.
Life is an interesting adventure; it didn’t come with an instruction manual for emotions. You find yourself in the throws of grief before you start reaching out for help, and even if you had been ’informed’ on what it would be like, you can’t possibly know until you’re there.
Wherever you are on your caregiving journey, stop and allow the simple moments to become the big moments in your life. Be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself, and remember to breathe and reach out for help when needed.