We buried my mother last Friday, May 22, 2009. I find myself moving through each day trying to get things back to normal, but unsure I will ever accomplish that goal. I was never very good at picking up the phone to call my mom though I did on her birthday and on holidays. I was good at writing her notes. Over the past several years I have written her at least one note/letter each month and an e-mail now and then. My father died when I was only eight, so I have some experience with grief. Still this is different, magnified. I am now an orphan.
I do not believe I am as good a writer as Meghan O'Rourke. She has written a series of articles dealing with the loss of her mother which I found thanks to Christian Sinclair, MD (PalliMed). Ms O’Rourke lost her mother to cancer on Christmas day. I know what she means when she says:
Since my mother's death, I have been in grief. I walk down the street; I answer my phone; I brush my hair; I manage, at times, to look like a normal person, but I don't feel normal.
As Christian puts it in his post:
She researches the medical literature, and thankfully finds the Yale study on Kubler-Ross stages/states from 2007. She makes many literature references including CS Lewis' A Grief Observed, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, multiple poets and Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. She even talked with Holly Prigerson, the lead researcher on the Coping with Cancer study.
This series is a must read for anyone in hospice and palliative care. Use each article as a discussion point at your next team meeting. Feel free to post other ways to use these articles in the comments.
I would add that these articles might be a “must read” for any of us who are grieving for our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc on this Memorial Day or any other day.