Grief Squirrels: Squirrels of Raaaaage. Also, Mother’s Day.

10 May

I have two entirely separate and distinct things I want to talk about, and I’m going to smush them into one disjointed post. You’re welcome.

Part One: Rage Squirrel.

Last August, I posted about all the grief I’ve been trying to process, and how it feels like I’m carrying around a squirrel that will suddenly leap up and bite me. It’s been about 8 months, and I’m still trying to process this woodland creature that I’m stuck carrying. I know that grief is just that – a process – that you make steps forward and take huge steps back. But is it normal for it to take this long? Isn’t there supposed to be forward progression at some point?

As a psych grad, I’m familiar with the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. Allegedly, we move through 5 distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. But are we supposed to take them in that order? I’ve definitely had the depression, and the denial. I don’t know about bargaining – there’s no bargain that can bring my father in law back, or make my mother in law healthy. I seem to be taking these out of order, or not at all.

And this week, I feel like I’m firmly stuck in the anger stage. I’m angry at everything, and everyone. Even right now, I’m so angry, I’m sick to my stomach. I’m angry about my father in law dying, and how it happened, and how inappropriate some people were. I’m angry that my mother in law’s situation is what it is. I’m angry that I’m not going to have any more kids.  I’m angry that the world seems so darn unfair. Little things are making me angry. Big things are making me angry. I have had to stop myself from typing angry things on Facebook (and in one instance, couldn’t help myself and typed it anyway.).  I feel like snarling at everyone. I have to keep reminding myself to take deep breaths and let things go.

Is this normal? Is this how it’s supposed to work? It gets better, right??

Part Two: Mothers

And now to completely shift gears: this Sunday is Mother’s Day. There are three women I’d like to briefly talk about here.

First: my aunt. When I found out I was pregnant, I was nervous about calling her and telling her, not sure how’d she react. I called and said, “You better sit down… I have some news.” She freaked, understandably, and wanted to know what was wrong. I told her that I was pregnant, and that the father wasn’t going to be involved.

This was her immediate response, without missing a beat: “Sheilah, I want you to do me a favor. The next three people you call, I want you to start with I have great news!” She reminded me that babies are gifts, that my child would be loved, and that she would be there for me, every step of the way. She knows how hard it is to raise a son by yourself, but she did an awesome job with hers, and she’s been an immense help with mine. Thank you, Kate, for being an awesome role model, an amazing mother to my cousin, and the best Aunt and Cha-Cha.

You rock.

You rock.

Second: My “other mother”, Carol. One of my mom’s former co-workers, and best friends. My mom and Carol started working together when I was about 6, and she’s been a loving presence in my life ever since. Carol doesn’t have any children of her own, but she’s loved me and my sister as if we were hers. When I visited their office as a child, people thought I was her daughter because we look so much alike and pretty much have the same personality. I spent weekends at her house, had “ladies lunches” with her at Oak Brook, and I learned a lot about dignity, grace, and generosity from her. She is the best, and I’m sending lots of love and prayers her way as she deals with a hard loss this week.

You rock.

You rock.

And, finally, my mom. Raised four kids, loves nine grandchildren, and teaches me every day what it means to be a good person. For everything you’ve given me, thank you.

You rock.

You rock.

Well, I feel a little less angry now. Go tell the moms, aunts, grandmas, and mother figures in your life that they rock. You’ll feel better, too.

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