Grieving During a Pandemic

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on

The last time I called my mother on the phone she sounded terrible. She was tired and had “had a bad night” so was resting. My oldest played his viola for her and then we hung up so she could rest.  Later, I called my older sister to tell her how bad she sounded and my sister told me that my mother had been rushed to the hospital and had been intubated. My mother, who suffered from heart failure, had had several frightening medical emergencies.  Even as serious as having been shocked back to life, and I was never once afraid of losing her. But when my sister told me what happened, my fear shot sky-high.  “I’m afraid, and I’ve never been afraid before,” I told my husband while I fought tears. That fear was what frightened me.

I sometimes think I somehow know when to be afraid and when not to be.  Like when my sister had her stroke and needed lifesaving surgery, I knew she’d be okay-and she came through it. Or like when my friend Marcia told me she was diagnosed with colon cancer and I spent the entire day in bed crying. And she passed within the year.

I was incredibly lucky- this happened at the end of March and I was able to fly to Florida and see and speak to her before she passed-it was just as things were starting to close down. I wanted to stay with her until the end, but I was fearful that the country would close down so I left her in her hospice room and under the watchful eyes of my older sister and brother.

My last time with her I didn’t really get to talk to her much, she was tired from her ordeal and needed rest. But I read to her from a horrid Christian romance that she really hoped to finish, and she told me that was the first time anyone had ever read to her. So I try to hold on to that.

At that time my husband was still working nights at the hospital, so I slept on the couch. Each night while mom was in hospice I lit a taper candle and let it burn through the whole night. I’d blow it out when I woke in the morning.

Since she passed, I keep my brain occupied pretty much all the time. I do not sit alone with a quiet mind. I am avoiding the grief and am keeping my grief at bay by reading about pandemics and playing Sims 4.  I stay awake at night scrolling until I fall asleep from exhaustion. Then I wake in the morning, get the kids up, get them to their pandemic schooling, and start work. I’m currently living in the realm of denial.

The grief does pop out sometimes.  Like when I’m driving somewhere-I most often called her between destination. I feel her absence most during these times. Or when I talk about her, which I haven’t been doing much of-you know, cuz keeping the feels away, right?

Today I called her former elderly and ill neighbor to see how she was doing. I know my mother would want me to help look after her. Doing this, writing this part- this is what brings the tears.  I’m not sure why, but after the call is when I cried.  It seems I cry most when I am thinking about my mother in reference to other people. Like how she used one of her last phone calls for my husband so she could tell him how much she loved him. Or how Kindred cried when he found out she was dying. Or when I call her former neighbor to make her promise me she’ll tell me if she needs groceries. This is when the tears fall.

I don’t know how to grieve right now. Healthy or not, it is how it is for now. When we finally have a memorial I expect it will come down like a crashing flood. But for now, I will plug along and keep things running at home and keep playing Sims 4.

Below is a video by Novo Amor-one of the only things I feel like listening to. Their music is beautiful, the videos are visually stunning. Please enjoy.

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