It would be helpful if the world could just stop for a day or a week (or a year!) when your heart is shattered by the news that one of the children you birthed into this world has suddenly left it.
But it doesn’t.
And immediately all the roles I have played for decades are overlaid by a new role: bereaved mother. Except instead of being definitive or even descriptive, this role is more like a foggy blanket that obscures and disorients me as I struggle to fulfill all the roles to which I’ve become accustomed.
Now I’m a bereaved mother AND
- mother to surviving siblings,
In addition to all the challenges those various roles represent, I have a new challenge:
How can I be the person I need to be for the ones I love when I’m barely able to be any kind of person at all? How do I encourage THEM when I have to give myself a pep talk just to get out of the bed? How do I navigate my own emotional landmines and help them navigate theirs so we all arrive safely on the other side of birthdays, holidays and special occasions?
I have to admit that I have. absolutely. no. idea.
I’m trying. I don’t give up (although I want to!). I keep showing up and having conversations (even some that are one-sided as I take the brunt of another’s emotional explosion). I try to be a middleman and get first one person’s perspective and then another’s-negotiating for common ground and some kind of compromise.
But it often backfires.
No matter how hard I work at it, I can’t please everyone. And the problem with being seen as the negotiator is that if things don’t turn out well, you are the scapegoat too.
I’ll be honest. There have been more than a few days this past month I wanted to crawl up in the bed, pull the covers over my head and not answer the door or the phone.
After nearly five years of this, I’m worn down, worn out, feeling sick, feeling incompetent and feeling like no matter how hard I try it really doesn’t matter.
I know it’s not true.
But it feels that way.
And it takes another giant bolus of energy I don’t really have to drag my butt out of the bed, make a list, make phone calls, do the things that need doing and then show up, smiling, to whatever event is next.
Because that’s what wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends do.