Five Things I’ve Learned About Grief

When I turned my phone back on again this morning (I had turned it off the prior evening, a rarity) there were some messages and one voicemail awaiting me.

The voicemail was from my boyfriend, calling to say goodnight. He sounded a bit worried but I had forwarned him that I was checking out for the evening. I seriously needed to be alone and just let everything go for a nice chunk of time.

It felt good to have no more fucks to give for a change of pace, an exceptionally freeing and guiltless act of self-care.

There was a message from one of my cousins, sending love and encouragement for the hard day ahead. Another message from my friend Cheryl, sending the same kind of thoughts.

I sent them both a heart emoji because that’s all I had in me to do.

My aunt had texted me “Morning Merry! Call me when you can.”

Since we don’t talk often, once I had woken up enough to think straight(ish) I found her number in my contacts and dialed her. She didn’t answer so I left a message.

She called back a few minutes later.

“I must have been in the bathroom, sorry!”

We discussed my mom, of course. An entire year now. We both agreed that it had gone so fast.

There were tears, a couple of laughs, many shared memories of her, several personal thoughts and then a rant about our annoyance with the cemetery, which throws everything that we bring to the grave away once a week.

I usually stick with plastic dollar store flowers. Some of them are really pretty.

I’ve lost my fair share of loved ones over the years. I’m not a newbie at this.

Yet my mom dying has been absolutely the most difficult death to accept and move forward with.

I’ve been as proactive as I could within the last year…attending a grief group, finding a new therapist that I really like, seeing my awesome doctor on a regular basis, writing as often as I could, plus reading, learning and exploring the topic of grief. I don’t like to stay stuck and the more knowledge that I have, the better my chances are for personal growth.

Rekindling my relationship with the big guy in the sky has also been wonderful, like being thrown a life preserver in a stormy sea filled with sharks.

Anyway, I’ve learned a few things about death, loss and grief but I’m keeping it very simple.


When I got the call early that Monday morning a year ago, my first thought was that of pure relief. Relief that she was no longer suffering and was finally at peace. It was also a feeling of relief for myself, that I no longer had to witness how very sick she was. One of the hardest things is to watch someone you love in pain and not being able to do a damn thing about it.

Of course, I felt guilty for feeling that way, until I read about something called anticipatory grief. She’d been ill for so long that deep down I had already begun the process of grieving before she even died.


Trying to act tough will only make matters worse. If you feel like ugly snot crying, do it. On the other hand, if you can’t cry and just feel numb, that’s alright as well.

There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to grieving.


Once the first week or so is over, people will go back to their lives and you’ll be left alone to try and figure out how to move forward without your loved one.

Pay close attention to the people who reach out to you during this time and if no one does, then reach out to them. (When you’re ready.)


There will always be a void that will never be filled again once someone dies and as much as that reality sucks, I personally wouldn’t want anyone else to fill in for my mom. That’s how much I continue to love her and always will.

She was special and one of a kind.

That empty space will belong only to her for the rest of my life and I cherish the fact that she resided there for so long.


My mom is still with me.

Those first few weeks after she passed away, I kept waiting for some profound thing to prove to me that she was alright. She’d told me to keep an eye out for her.

But it’s not usually like that.

It’s a certain song on the radio, a bird, a feather, a dream…and often, it’s just a feeling you have, that you cannot explain.


My mom was almost my age in this photograph that I took of her, while we were on a family trip to Hershey, PA way back in 1989.

She had a zest for life and this photo represents that perfectly, I think.

I miss her so much.

Go Away, Albatros

Well, guys, it’s official. My condo will be on the market starting on January 11th. The realtor that I chose came over yesterday morning and he was really great. He spent almost 90 minutes with me. He answered all of my questions, he was well-organized and extremely professional.

I decided to go for it without any hesitation, which is an ultra-rare thing for me to do. I mean, I usually question every little damn thing that flutters through my mind, which is so annoying. I’m constantly ticking my own self off. Oy.

But this decision felt right.

After he left, I felt like an albatross had been lifted from my shoulders.


Well, I didn’t like being on your fucking shoulders anyway.

Now my daughter and I have some major work ahead of us. I ordered a lightweight vacuum on Amazon which should be delivered today so I can do the floors with more ease since my regular vacuum is like pushing a boulder around. Keeping my house as clean as a whistle isn’t an easy task whilst suffering from fibromyalgia, so this purchase was rather necessary.

We need to tidy up and declutter for the open houses that’ll be planned for every Saturday morning between 10 am and 12 pm. I like this plan because I can just put my dogs in the car and get the hell out of the house for two hours easily enough.

While the condo begins its journey to a new owner, I’ll begin to start looking for a new place to live. The realtor, I must say, seems to know his stuff. He said that not even taking the mental health and emotional issues into consideration, the layout of the condo just doesn’t work for me anymore.

He nailed the pin on the donkey or whatever that saying is.

I have 3 “must-haves” for my next abode.

  1. No Stairs.
  2. Preferably a fenced-in backyard (or how about even just a backyard?) where my dogs can have some freedom and maybe some fucking exercise.
  3. No Condos!

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

I had an emotional chat about putting the condo up for sale with my mom yesterday and although I realize that she’s deceased (I haven’t lost my crackers yet, I swear), I feel as though she was listening.

From what I’ve read on the afterlife, the spirits of our dearly departed no longer hold grudges or experience anger once they’ve passed away. Whatever fears that plagued my sweet mama are now replaced with nothing but love. I do believe this with all of my heart. I keep trying to picture her up in heaven rooting for me no matter what I do in my life.

I asked her to stay close by, to help guide me in the right direction.

I’m thankful for finally feeling really good about something for a change. It’s been far too long since that’s happened and it’s about fucking time.

A Tad Off-Key

Freedom is an important thing to have, wouldn’t you agree?

It starts when we’re little. We realize that we can crawl, that we have the ability to move from one place to the next. We start off slow and awkward, but soon enough we’re on a roll and our parents get all excited.

Until we start to walk. Then we end up taking all of the pots, pans and whatnot out of the cupboards.


No more freedom for you, you drooling little turd.

The reason I bring this topic up isn’t just for shits and giggles. Among the many things that I’m finding myself having difficulty with recently is how to deal with having full freedom.

Freedom from my ex-husband but also from my mom’s unintentional hovering. It was something I don’t believe that she even realized she was doing.

It’s so hard for me to discuss how controlling she was when it came to the choices and decisions that I made because it makes me feel like I’m disrespecting her memory. I know that she never intended on doing me any sort of harm or damage. I feel a sense of prickly shame and a guilty conscience whenever I think to speak or write about it.

Let’s just say that I’ll have plenty to talk about in therapy and leave it at that.

I have this intense grief to carry around with me, trying to make sense of a world without my mother in it, who was always my refuge and main support system.

I also have this newfound freedom of living my life without her input for the first time. It’s both exciting and rather terrifying. To be perfectly honest, I’m so afraid that I’m gonna fuck it all up and make all the wrong choices…but then again, I suppose that’s what life is mostly all about.

I like to imagine that my mother would want me to just be as happy as possible. (Even if she’s up in heaven disagreeing with me and shaking her head.)

I know that it’s going to take me a while to feel comfortable following my own gut instincts or as my new therapist calls it “finding my voice.”

My tone and pitch might be a tad off-key but hey, at least it’s mine.