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My Life On Hold

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I just realized yesterday that my life has been on hold for 5 months since my dad died, which was followed by my mother-in-law's death 3 weeks ago. I was very close to both of them and I turned to them for advice more than anyone else aside from my husband. When my dad died I ran the gambit of emotions from utter sadness and grief to anger because he didn't take care of himself and now he's gone. Because I had to deal with the death of my dad, I was somewhat better able to cope with my mother-in-law's death. For many years, my mother-in-law was more like a mom to me than my own mother. Her advice was almost always spot on. In the middle of those two deaths, my husband's oldest brother also died. No one in my husband's family was close to him at all except my mother-in-law. She lived with cancer for 7 years before she passed away and she also had to live through watching her oldest son die slowly. It's not fair. I have realized that we can eat right, exercise, etc. but none of that will prevent anyone from getting cancer, heart disease, etc. Basically, life is a crap shoot.

When I was paying some bills yesterday, I realized that I have put my entire life on hold and have refused to deal with financial and other issues since my dad died. I have started taking some steps to correct the freeze on my life. How do I move on after the death of my dad and my mother-in-law who was like a second mother? How do I get myself out of this it doesn't matter what we do or don't do because we're all doomed mentality? I also find myself taking a lot of prescription meds that I shouldn't be taking in an effort to cope with this. I know it's wrong but sometimes it's like I need them to feel happy. And I also know what prolonged use of such opioids will do to me. So I don't do it all the time or every day, but enough. I know I haven't really dealt with all of my grief but I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 1 year old. I just don't have time to really allow myself to go through the grieving process. So I do what I can to keep myself busy and not think about it all. Any advice is welcome.

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Seems like grief has turned your perspective on life to gloom, and you feel stuck. Well, that seems pretty normal. Grief is debilitating; everybody on this site will agree to that. So the issue is how to climb out of it. Our grief counselor here, Marty, talks about 'grief work'. As I understand it, 'grief work' is about finding and doing things that will make us feel better. It doesn't have to be herculean effort type stuff, just find modest things that you know you can do. Examples: In my first months of grief I was stuck in my apartment almost 24/7 and going stir-crazy.. So I started bike riding and swimming in the local municipal pool. And I did start feeling better. I also wanted to preserve my Mom's legacy, so I put together a cook book of all her recipes. This stuff made me feel better; pretty simple. I'm not saying it's easy to bounce out of grief; it's not. I'm just saying that we have to find things into which we can invest a little positive energy. So long as you are making an honest effort at something, you are doing the grief work, whether you know it or not. The gloom starts to lift a bit as we find things that make us feel better.

Anyway, that's how I am slowly getting unstuck. At month 11 after my Mother's passing, I actually feel that I'm learning a lot from grief. It's not just about pain.

Ron B.

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