Monday marked one month since losing my grandmother. Am I sad? Yes, but I am doing better than I expected. Those baby steps I wrote about before are starting to make a noticeable difference. The day she was buried there was a small rainbow that formed as my family and I were getting ready to leave. I saw an almost identical rainbow after I went to visit her on Saturday.
As you might already know from my previous post, the guilt I felt about not making that damn tomato soup haunted me. So on Friday I visited my amazingly talented tattoo artist, Josh, and got a permanent reminder of the good memories I have with my grandmother (and tomato soup). *a special shout out & thank you to Josh for waiting on me because I live in Atlanta so traffic is an unpredictable nightmare*
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to my family and friends, for their unconditional love and support, Taylor, for sticking with me during the lowest of lows I’ve hit, and last but certainly not least, you all for reading my blog and letting me know I’m not alone when it comes to my struggles. When I started this blog it was a way for me to share my experiences with OCD but it has evolved into me opening up about my anxiety and depression, which is not something I had ever really planned on doing. There have been many times in my life that I have felt like I was on an island when it came to mental health and starting this blog has shown me that even on my worst days I am not alone. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you for lovin’ me, thank you for bein’ there! Everyone’s thankin’! The whole world’s thankin’ you! Thankin’ us, for thankin’ you! What’s your Thanksgiving song?
Also, if you haven’t started following me on Instagram…
I knew last week would be rough. I didn’t realize this week would give it a run for its money. Yesterday was the first day since October 18th that I didn’t cry. Don’t get me wrong, I found myself on the brink a few times but I am finally starting to feel like the massive blanket of depression that has been wrapped around my shoulders is starting to loosen. I can look at pictures of my grandmother without crying. I can remember the good times without (quite as much of) the guilt I felt for any of the free time I didn’t spend with her during her last weeks and days. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need a good cry every now and then, but my eyes need a break. I’m starting to think I have entered a state of advanced dehydration due to the amount of crying (and occasional evening Bud Light Lime or four) I’ve done the past two weeks.
So, how did being thrown into the first week post-loss go for me? Less than stellar. The water to our entire complex was shut off Monday for emergency maintenance, so I sat on the couch like a potted plant instead of attempting to cross anything off of my to-do list (which started in July 2017 and has never been fully completed). I woke up Tuesday with a bit more pep in my step but it was quickly washed away once I got to work, where I was greeted with typical work things and promptly discovered the soup of the day was none other than tomato, which I’m pretty sure ya’ll already know didn’t go over well. I ended up using my lunch break to get cup of tomato soup and go to my car and cry. Because when life gives you lemons, what do you do? Go to your car and cry. Also, and this is small potatoes compared to the whole soup car crying thing, I have somehow managed grow an Olympus Mons (geography degree nerd humor, FTW!) sized zit on my face overnight Monday and it has truly flourished in the anxiety and stress ridden environment that is my life right now. Wednesday was definitely the highlight because, not only was it Halloween, it was my Super Awesome, Totally Rad Mom’s birthday!
Thursday was a long day that began with accidentally branding my arm with a clothes steamer and now it is Friday. Finally. Here’s to hoping I don’t end up crying in my car during my lunch break next week. But if I do, that’s okay too.
one of the most painful realizations that comes with grieving is that our lives go on—and that has to be okay.
If anyone is struggling with returning to life as usual after a loss, this article was a huge help to me.
Now that you’re nice and sad, some exciting news: my blog surpassed 1,000 views!
Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read about lil’ ol’ me, the human equivalent of a houseplant but with more complicated emotions. The calamity that is my life doesn’t seem to be slowing down so I’m happy to continue supplying the masses with relatable content/content that will, at the very least, make you feel better about your own situation. Let’s keep this good thing going!
….Now that I’m thinking about it, I probably account for around 25% of those views but whatever. Still counts.
There are many things I am bad at and lying is one of them (others include math, being patient, and expressing emotion). The past 4 days all I have been doing is lying. When someone asks how I’m doing my instinct is to say that I’m doing okay. But I’m not doing okay. I feel like my entire life has been turned upside down ever since I got a call Friday at 3:30am because I knew what I was going to hear before I answered the phone. Six hours after I posted tomato soup the one thing I have been dreading this entire year happened. And I try to remind myself/take my own advice to remember all of the great things I was able to do and experience when my grandmother was here but I’m struggling. Part of it is because I am just expected to go back to life as usual after the funeral tomorrow, which is impossible. Part of it is because any progress I feel like I have made with my checking is gone. Even before she passed I took a longer route back to the highway on the way home because that was the route I always took. I almost had a panic attack because I used a different eye shadow color Thursday morning. I came back inside after locking the front door to make sure I had unplugged the curling iron not once but twice. It feels like all of the tiny steps I have made to try and control my obsessions and compulsions have been replaced by the need to do them even more. I know that I will be okay and that I will get back to a place where I don’t get so overwhelmed thinking about the loss of my grandmother. But right now my heart physically hurts knowing she isn’t here anymore.
Grief is a weird thing. Adding to the complicated web of emotions that usually coincide with it, it is an especially complicated thing to deal with since everyone grieves differently. I wish I could put up an away message circa 2003 instant messenger for life. Basically just a BRB but with some angsty lyrics from a pop-punk band (which is still some of my favorite music to date. I have no shame).
My grandmother’s health has been declining for the past 3 months or so (and is one of the biggest reasons I have started going to therapy in the first place). She went from being independent, to having daily check-ins with her nurse, to now needing 24/7 care. The past 24-48 hours, in particular, have been the worst. We know she doesn’t have much time left here with us, which is very hard, but she is at peace and she is ready. Before she got to this current state, she would tell us stories from growing up or memories from trips she took. My entire family is so very lucky to have had her in our lives and we take comfort in knowing she isn’t scared of whatever her next journey has in store.
So how have I handled this incredibly emotional time? I haven’t. I have had times where I cry and get angry and upset, but those times are greatly outnumbered by the times I did absolutely nothing to prepare myself for the inevitable loss I have to face. Until now, I never truly understood the amount of guilt that comes along with grief.
If there was an award for Putting the Most Pressure on Oneself on a Daily Basis, there is a very good chance I would take home 1st place. And probably 2nd and 3rd, depending on what is going on in my life during the judging. Up to this point there have been a few times where we thought it was my grandmother’s time. Luckily, she pulled through. She toughed it out long enough to meet her newest great-granddaughter, Laura Jean, who was named after her. She enjoyed performances her oldest great-granddaughter, Lily. She met her great-granddaughter Charlotte, who lives a few hours away in Alabama, and was able to soak up all of the snuggles. All of these amazing things were just more memories for her to add to her memory bank. A few weeks ago when Taylor and I went to go visit, she gave us her recipe box because she knows we both enjoy cooking. We spent time talking about the recipes and looking through them. We all bonded over our love of tomato soup and she helped us find the recipe card in her box. As we were leaving we said excited to make a batch of the tomato soup since the weather was cooling off, planned to make some the upcoming Sunday, and told her we would bring her some.
I got a call from Taylor while I was at work yesterday saying we should go see her. I asked him how it was looking and he said she had gotten worse. She was in pain and it was making her sick. I left work to go home and meet Taylor so we could make the trip together and when we got to the facility she was groggy from the pain medicine but knew we were there. It was very hard to see because even throughout the last few months and weeks as she was getting weaker she still seemed like herself. Yesterday I could tell it wouldn’t be much longer. We spent time with her, told her how much we loved her and she told us the same. I held her hand while she dozed in and out of sleep from the medication. And I cried. I guilted myself for not spending more time with her, for not going by and seeing her more. I cried because I felt guilty for all of the times I had gone out to a brewery with my friends or had a lazy Saturday at home instead of making the 30 minute drive to go see her. And then I sobbed when I remembered the soup. I didn’t make the tomato soup and I didn’t bring her any after I told her I would. That one seemingly small thing that I am almost certain she didn’t remember was the final straw. It made me realize that I have spent the better part of the last 3+ months not letting myself grieve the inevitable loss of someone so incredibly important to me because I would feel overwhelming guilt for grieving the loss of someone I still had in my life while simultaneously guilting myself any time I did something fun or relaxing because it was time I could have spent with her. I cried the entire way home. I cried in the drive-thru as we were grabbing something to eat so we didn’t have to cook because it was late. I cried texting my mom about that damn soup. I likely spent a combined 4-5 hours crying yesterday evening and I feel confident in saying that almost half of that time I was crying about tomato soup (a first for me, which is surprising seeing as how much I enjoy it).
It’s not easy trying to put on a brave face and go about your normal routine when you know someone you love so, so much doesn’t have much time left. My chest felt heavy as I forced myself out of bed to get ready for work this morning. I cried after putting my makeup on. I cried in the car on the way to the office. I cried at my desk. I’m crying as I type this out. But my biggest supporters through all of this have reminded me of the most important thing when it comes to dealing with loss. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t make the tomato soup. It doesn’t matter that I spent time with my friends or being lazy on the couch instead of going up to Acworth. I have memories eating my grandmother’s tomato soup. I have the recipe for the soup. I have so many incredible memories from all of my 28 years involving my grandmother and, although it is incredibly hard since I am the Queen of Self Inflicted, Unwarranted Guilt, I can’t let the idea of not making a pot of tomato soup prevent me from grieving the loss of someone who I love so much. It is ok to grieve while still going through the daily routine. It is something I am trying to remind myself of.
So if anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation, remember the tomato soup. The memories I have from spending time with my grandmother and eating her tomato soup are so much more important than spending my time guilting myself for not making some to take to her, especially considering she likely has no recollection of the conversation in the first place.
As I wrap this incredibly emotional post up (there are wayyy too many feels going on for me right now and we all know how much I hate having feels), please keep my grandmother and my family in your thoughts. She is so very loved and while we know that she is ready for the next chapter, there’s no way for any of us to be.