Friday, January 27, 2012

Grieving process

Currently battling a cold--stuffy nose, tickle in the throat, etc. Annoying, right?

I wanted to touch on something quickly.

The last year, as you know, has been difficult for me. Okay, let's just say it: the last year SUCKED. Plain and simple.

The main aspect was my mother's death. Towards the end of 2011, I was incredibly depressed and angry. There was an entire weekend when I honestly think that Mirza was afraid for me because I laid in bed all day crying, cursing, and generally being miserable. That was a low point.

I don't know what studies say, but once we reached the one year mark (January 5th), it was almost like I entered into the "acceptance" stage of grieving. It's funny, though, because I was actually afraid of this date. I understand that we will go through the stages of grieving in no particular order, and may go back into the stages as time progresses, but I've definitely felt a shift of some sort.

On the anniversary of my mom's death, I decided to take the rest of her ashes from my closet and bring them to the beach, in front of one of her favorite spots: The Swigwam. This was a bar on the beach that looked more like a hut. People would write all over the wood, leave messages, koozies' hung from the ceiling etc. When we first moved to Florida, it was definitely one of her favorite spots to sit back and relax with her sisters when they visited (and have a few (+) drinks, of course).
My mother (left) and Aunt Deb enjoying the Swigwam

Since we have already scattered her ashes at Margarittaville in Key West (she would have loved this), and throughout her favorite spots back home in Massachusetts, including a lilac bush in my sister's yard, and her father and mother's grave site, the Swigwam was definitely the last spot on the list.

At first, I couldn't find it! The hotel it was associated with had been bought out by another company. I walked and walked down St. Pete Beach and finally stumbled upon the bar, but it was different. It was no longer the Swigwam by name, but it looked pretty much the same. I felt like I harbored a huge secret with my mom's ashes in my purse, but I walked up the stairs to the bartender and asked him, "Did this place used to be the Swigwam?" to which he replied, "Yes." I told him that's all I needed to know and made my way closer to the shore. I sat on a wooden chair and buried the rest of her ashes in the sand. At this spot, 18 years ago, you would have found a younger me building sand castles. I literally said out loud, "Bye Mom," and made the long trek back to my car. It wasn't a huge sentimental moment for me at the time. I was casual in my thought and process. I did what needed to be done!

 While it's sad that a piece of my family's "history" in Florida has been changed with the death of the Swigwam, I feel it's only fitting that it died along with my mother...

Since then, I've felt free. I don't know what happened. Maybe I am in the acceptance phase? There will be days that I will be angry, depressed, in denial, etc, but I think for now...I am accepting it. I feel good. And I hope I'm not speaking too soon.
It reminds me of a poem that my uncle Gary wrote (that my Grandpa "read" during her memorial service)

It's hard to be strong when you're fighting back tears
If you think of past memories as just wasted years.

Life can seem cruel and very unfair,

But you can't change the past; it will always be there.
Days may look darker, nights may feel long,
Things may seem different, but you have to be strong
The knots in your stomach may hurt deep inside,
The tension, and the anger, the hurt of your pride.
You try to be strong and keep it together,
But things just don't seem real and time takes forever.
Thousands of thoughts just whirl through your mind;
Your life, your future, you try to unwind.
Answers seem hard to the questions you ask;
You think to yourself, "how long will it last?"
The present begins as the past slips away.
It lasts only a moment, it's not here to stay. 
So look to the future and learn from your past.
The future starts now, 
But your memories will last.
So try to be strong when you're fighting back tears. 
Because memories are memories, and not wasted years.

I did keep a small amount of her ashes for one day when I do own a home, I can plant something pretty for her.