As some of you may remember, the last time you heard from our heroine (in this case, me– note, please, this is solely for the purpose of today’s storytelling) my mother had just been admitted to the hospital for a difficult operation.
I am sad to tell you that she died a week later.
By the Grace of whomever you believe dispenses Grace, my siblings and I were able to spend her last week with her and it was beautiful.
I am writing today not only to explain my radio silence of the last few weeks but also to offer a few things I learned during this experience that may be helpful to you when you find yourself in this situation:
1. You will likely be in shock—get backup:
In the case of both my parents, there was a phone call that said, “Come now.” When that occurs it’s possible you will cling to normalcy, thinking something along the lines of, “But I’m in the middle of X.” This is natural. It’s almost impossible to process what is occurring. This is why you need level headed backup. People who can look up plane times and drive cars and remind you to pack appropriately.
2. While everyone undoubtedly is doing the best they can with the tools they have, it will be easier for you if you share information discriminately:
Outside of the people who work in critical care situations daily (Emergency room doctors, ICU nurses, hospice experts) the rest of us haven’t had much experience with death. Given that, many people are going to say and do things that range from outrageous to incomprehensible (My particular ‘favorite’ was the friend who wailed, “Oh no, oh no, now you’re an orphan!”) Given this, share information discriminately: ask the experts any and every question you can think of, and don’t make yourself crazy trying to keep anyone outside your immediate circle in the loop. If there was ever a time to disconnect from your devices, this is it.
3. Bring mourning back:
When my father died, I went back to work the next day. Guess what? I’m 100% sure my business would have survived had I taken some time to wrap my brain around what had occurred. With this in mind, I’ve spent the the time since my mother’s death doing little more than throwing the ball for my dog, gardening, swimming, going to yoga and staring into space. I also decided to do a bit of trapeze (It’s also important to remember that mourning looks different for everyone.) And while I recognize that not everyone has the luxury of stepping away from their work for an extended period of time, I do think it’s important not to pretend nothing has occurred—to be kind to yourself in whatever way makes sense to you.
I look forward to reconnecting with you after Labor Day.
Frances Cole Jones