When experiencing loss, it is normal to experience the stages of grief. How you experience them, is always different from person to person, though most tend to deal with them in the same order. This is my account of going through those stages.

Denial

Nothing is scarier than your brain playing make believe. In the wake of my mothers passing, I found myself still holding onto the belief that she would come walking through the door or send me a text message. Nothing about the situation I just experienced felt fake, yet somehow my brain fully believed she hadn’t passed. It might have been harder given that I was living in the same home as she was. Never the less, I continued to feel this odd sensation.

At times she would normally come home from work, my body was instinctively tell me to get up and go greet her at the driveway. I would sometimes forget to make a meal for myself because I was assuming she would be coming home soon and would make dinner. Little things like this continued to happen, and occasionally still happen. I have long since accepted that she is no longer here, but some habits are harder to get rid of than others.

I think the worst part of it all was realizing how lonely my home is without her. The small encounters we had from time to time subdued the feeling, and without her, I was made more apparent of how important human contact can be. As time moved on, the house began to rearrange itself and we had the funeral, I finally moved on and began dealing with the next stage.

Anger

As I discussed in a previous chapter, I am no stranger to anger. Once my brain no long grasped at the idea she would return, I started to feel aggravated. Questions would always run through my brain; why did she have to die? Who is responsible? What do I do now? When will I feel better? Of course these questions had no exact answers, and that itself also made me angry.

I noticed myself becoming spiteful at anything related to cancer. Donations to cancer foundations, false hope filled news about getting one step closer to a cure, and so on. I felt that the problem of cancer no longer existed now that the person that needed it the most had already succumb to it. Why help others when it serves no benefit to you? That sort of mentality is of course not why we cure disease, let alone how a functioning world should work.

I wont say that anger is no longer part of my life, but it isn’t as strong as it was. I still resent the amount of money research for cancer gets and how multiple decades of funding proved worthless when it was needed most. I still get angry when I forget to take the trash out because my mother wasn’t here to remind me. Little things that don’t impact my life, but still get a rise out of me. I think it is okay to continue being angry even after you accept your loss, but it shouldn’t be a common feeling.

Bargaining

Most people in a situation where you are going to lose a loved one tend to turn to religion to help. For me it was the opposite. My mother was a religious person; she attended church regularly, read the bible on occasion and even had her pastor visit before she passed. In my heart I knew that if there was a God, clearly he didn’t care. Religion doesn’t work like a democracy; the more people send prayers don’t sway God to perform miracles. So if all these people were praying for her, including a preacher of the faith, then what good would my own prayers do? Clearly I cannot bargain with a deity, and quite frankly, I shouldn’t default to doing so either.

My method was to research. I looked around as much as I could of ways to halt cancer growth, from confirmed scientifically to long shot at best. I tried my best to use my talents of Internet research in finding some sort of help. With that I bargained, almost pleading to the Internet for a website or forum discussion that could give me some method to help her. In the end, it was all for nothing. While no doctor can know all there is to know about medicine, it is uncommon for a specialist to be uninformed about treatments and procedures in their field. I eventually came to accept that if there were a way to help her, the doctor she had been going to for two years would have said something.

With bargaining I found myself trying to bide my time. I tried to convince myself that I could spend enough time with her before she passed to make up for the time I will not have later. I argued with myself that giving up any unnecessary actions would mean I could do more to help her last longer. Of course all of it was a lie. The brain can do many things, but alter reality it cannot.

Depression

Again, another topic I discussed previously, but like anger, it didn’t just pop into my life after the loss. I have a habit of living the things I don’t want to experience unprepared for in my mind. I try to imagine every scenario, every reaction and every emotion. In most cases it works at desensitizing you to an event you will soon face, and fairly helpful when you live constantly anxious. I found myself able to cry about each scenario I made up, slowly limiting the amount of sadness I felt each time. I tried to focus on being able to keep my cool, make sure everything was okay, and most importantly, not lose my mind.

There are things I can handle well when surprised, public speaking or being called into work to name a few. There are also things I don’t handle well when surprised, bad news or unplanned trips are good examples. I usually don’t find myself dealing with surprises all that often. At most, I’ve gotten a few calls from my mother before asking to help with a flat tire or locking keys in a car. When it comes to smaller things like that, I can handle them. Being sprung news about your parent having cancer wasn’t one I dealt with well.

Naturally I felt depressed, and as things got worse, so did my depression. My biggest worry was that I would wake up to finding my mother dead, a sight and feeling I no doubt could not handle. Fortunately this was not how everything came to pass, and after she closed her eyes for the last time, I felt and overwhelming weight of sadness. Every negative emotion I could conceive hit me like a train, causing my legs to buckle and my eyes to become waterfalls. As quickly as it hit, I also felt it go away. As time goes on, I still feel depressed, with it dragging out longer than I would like. I want it to all go away, but I also know it is part of moving on.

Acceptance

I will never be okay that my mother has passed, and there is no reason why I should. I have accepted that she is no longer here, and will never return, but that is all. When I felt acceptance was when I had my first birthday without her. I came to realize that it is fine to embrace a life without her, because there is no other life to accept. I didn’t want her to be gone, but I knew that she was. There will never be a time I see her smile again, or hear her voice. I will never give her a hug or cry on her shoulder. I accepted that although it feels wrong, a life without her is the one I am living, and will continue to do so.

In my mind she should have never died. She gave so much and in the end was given a shitty disease because of nothing more than bad luck. I hate that life continues to move forward without her, and I hate that I was left to slowly rot away on this forsaken planet without the one who put me here. Most people never feel okay that they lost a loved one, and although others might say otherwise, it is perfectly acceptable to feel that way. As long as you accept that they are gone, and move forward, your feelings on the matter can be positive or negative. I hope that one day I might feel more positive on the issue, but for now, there is no reason to force a positive mindset when I truly don’t feel one.

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