Last week, my two sisters and I visited my cousin in St. Louis who'd lost her mother last month. While preparing to go, I didn't realize how much our visit would mean to her. She had the chance to talk about her mom and the end of her mom's life. We gave her a short break, offered suggestions, and listened. Perhaps that was the most important. Just listening. And she took us shopping. There's nothing like wandering in and out of quaint shops to shut out grief for an afternoon.
Having lost my own mother, mother-in-law, and her sister within eighteen months, I knew grief first hand. I knew about being overwhelmed ("OMG, what am I going to do with all this stuff?") as Hubs and I emptied his mother's and aunt's condos. I'm the oldest of seven, so I had lots of help with Mom's estate. But Hubs was an only child and his aunt had no children. After our garage, basement, and dining room filled up with the belongings of two women who both lived over a hundred years (you read that right), I was paralyzed by indecision. My sister's husband was also an "only" and she, too, had to deal with her mother-in-law's estate alone. She filled up their backyard shed until she could figure out what to do with it all. Why is it that dealing with "stuff" seems to overshadow our thoughts instead of memories of our loved one?
Both of us could identify with our cousin, another only child. My other sister was our mother's caregiver, as was my cousin, and could empathize with the void in her life. Before we left, I shared with her what the Hospice counselor told me--give yourself permission to grieve and take as long as you need. That's how I got through losing three important women in my life.
I hope my cousin discovers that in time the pain will ease. It never goes completely away. It just doesn't hurt as much.
On a different note, today is also my turn on The Roses of Prose. Come on over and see what I have to say about the characters in my stories who don't behave.