Walking Grief… Or Coping With the Act of Dying

Image by Meredith Farmer

I’ve been contemplating this idea of “walking grief” lately…….. mostly, I’m just trying to describe how I feel………….. I’m not always sad, I have sad days, but I’m not sad. On the flipside, I’m not happy either; I have happy moments; moments that make me laugh; but I would not call this phase of my life happy or blissful. So I’ve been playing with the term, “walking grief”…………… because I’m not going through the traditional stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — but rather a mix of almost all of the above (I’ve never bargained with God; I’ve only threatened to beat him up) and then some. I thought there had to be a better word…………….. something that summed it all up because some days you’re angry. Other days you feel depressed. Some days, you just accept it…………………… coping with a parent who is dying a very slow, grotesque death takes a tremendous emotional and even physical toll.

There is no easy recovery from it. You see things, hear things, smell things…………………. it’s traumatic. I don’t want to sound like a victim here. I’m not. My mom is. I’m just here, going through this experience with her. But I’m not gonna lie………….. it’s been brutal; brutal enough where I tell myself, “Kat, it could be worse…. you could be in a war zone or living in place where you’re stoned to death because you’re a woman…”

There is always something worse.

I had lunch with my friend Lea the other day and she made a wonderful comment to me that just clicked………………………… she said that in our society we don’t embrace the duality……………….. that sometimes we will go through periods of just sadness and that’s OK. That you need those moments to balance out the happy.

As a society, we don’t really talk about the sad, about death…………. we avoid it. We don’t talk about it. We are not allowed to dwell in it. To feel it. To sit with it. We bury it. And then we move on. The problem is, those rules don’t really apply with dementia (or in general if you ask me)…………. every time I visit my mother, any progress I’ve made toward feeling “normal” are swept away. So I’m not going to try. I am going to walk my grief. This is where I’m at. That’s it. I am not going to always see the bright side of things. I don’t want to. I am here. I am feeling a blur of emotion…………………………. and I think that’s probably normal.

I am in walking grief and I kindly ask you to respect that.

Flickr pic by Meredith Farmer

13 Comments

  1. Like, Like, Like… That’s the button I’m looking for, or one that says I’m here with you. Much strength and gentleness to you and your mom today. And thank you for helping me name and understand a little bit better my own walking-grief.

  2. I often search for a way to describe how I feel and I thank you for providing a voice that could not have said it more perfect. Thank you for sharing your work with the rest of the community. I too am in my 30s with a mom suffering with the disease – diagnosed in her early 60s. It has been the saddest time in my life and each day I have a hard time finding the sunshine through the clouds. My days are often filled with uncontrollable tears that stream down my face – ultimate and overwhelming loss, sadness and grief as I miss my mom more and more each day. Thank you.

  3. I almost feel guilty. You so beautifully spoke the words I said to myself so many times….my dad passed into a better place Sept. 12, 1999 after nearly 6 years of what I could only observe and endure with him…the very slow and heart breaking thing that robbed him of his memories, his strength, his wisdom and ultimately the recognition of daughter and….sadly but mercifully his life. My guilt is that it was such a merciful thing when he passed…It sounds so bad…I dream of him when I really need my daddy…miss him…I walked the good walk…god bless you

  4. Wow! You are my saving grace. I stumbled upon your blog after searching today for something to ease my pain. I cried soo hard last night, missing my mom. I, too, am struggling with watching my Mom be taken away by Alzheimer’s! Plus, we just lost my MIL 2 weeks ago to the same dreadful journey. Thank you for being soo open with something soo painful. I am also walking in grief! Stay strong my friend.

  5. The words you have spoken are all so true in my life also. Emotionally I’m a mess. Im 34 my mom is 56. She’s was diagnose with Pick’s about 2 years ago, it’s progressed so much in the last 4months. Thank you for your words.

  6. That is the perfect wording for this feeling. My mom has been living with my family for the past year and every day is getting harder and more guilt ridden, but I am the only child and how can I not do everything I can. I too just stumbled upon this blog and I am very thankful I did 🙂

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