Sitting here writing this I’m listening to Rolling Stone and I feel like Bob Dylan is talking to me. Which is weird, not because he’s obviously not talking to me but mostly because I never really liked Bob Dylan. Gasp, I know. I just always felt that he talked more than sang. Whenever I mentioned this to my Mom when a song of his would come on she’d say, ‘But he’s such a good song writer!’ She was right. So maybe that’s why I find his words speaking to me now.
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Now that my Mom is gone, I feel very much, even more so now than before in my life, like an outcast. When I called myself Orphan Ashley recently to Mando, he made a face that was somewhere between terror and the other half sadness for me. I think I made a joke after or said, “too much?”
I guess it was. Sometimes that’s just my way of coping with an idea that is too much to handle. Being a lose cannon flying through this infinite, large universe with neither of my chosen teachers to guide me throughout the rest of my journey here is a pretty scary feeling. No net to catch me if I fall, when I inevitably fall as we do in life. But I’m an adult. And according to many people’s standards, my age and my Mom’s age are when people begin to get sick and die. But I know far too much about health to know that this isn’t normal and my Mom died far too young.
Beyond that, though losing my Mom has been some else to me, more of blow to the stomach-a breathless, nightmare. My Mom, my best friend, the person I shared secrets with. She was a single Mom who raised my Sister and I while running a thriving business while still making time for all the in betweens-our softball games, sick days, awards and bad dreams. My buddy for so many years accompanying me on trips, lunches, movies, snuggles, upsets and pains. Maybe my closeness to her is why I’m finding her absence to hard.
Naturally I’m also finding it hard to do normal things and find myself feeling irritated at people and in need of things that are self-healing, quiet and meditative. This isn’t to say that in the first couple of weeks after my Mom’s death were quiet. Among my crying and whaling, there has been incomprehensible yelling, loud music and television to drown out my thoughts, broken things, screaming prayers to angels and God, more broken things, more crying and talking to my Mom everywhere and anywhere-on the streets, at work, in the bathroom, in bed and on the bus.
At my worst, my actions have been destructive and even though temporarily relieving of my grief, not the best way to permanently deal with my Mom’s death. Not that I could ever try to forget about it. I feel like like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates waking up everyday to a new but the same reality; my Mom is dead, she’s not coming back. I can’t call her or text her about plans or her day. The early morning and night are worst when I see the sun rising or going down and I think of you, Mom. I think of you a million times in between but for some reason during these sunless times of day, my heart is heavy for you.
They say there are five stages of grief. Here I have listed them as well as what I’ve found helpful through each stage recently. Everyone is different of course and I am no expert, these are only things that I have found helpful through my greving process. Part of what makes going through this OK is knowing that I’m not alone so please feel free to take the time to comment below and share what has worked for you in the grieving of a loved one.
5 Stages of Grief
- Denial-I think I was only in denial when I first heard that the paramedics were working to keep her alive. I’m not sure how long I stayed in denial for as I waited for her to be revived. I guess nothing else works with denial but just truly feeling the feelings and having a memorial for her helped to deal with the reality of her death sooner.
- Anger-Admitting that I’m extremely anger about my Mom’s death is one of the first things that helped me. When I expressed this to my therapist and she asked what I thought would help, boxing immediately came to my mind. When I was younger I got into Taobo and my Mom even bought me a punching bag to support it. The fond memory along with a way to get out my anger has proven to be really great for me through this process. I even made a new friend who I meet for classes and look forward to moving up in the class. I think any exercise is a great, healthy way of exuding energy when you’re angry.
- Bargaining-I certainly bargained for my Mom’s life at some point or another. And may again because I know the desire to want her here on earth will never leave me. But I have found solace in readings and teachings that remind me that her soul has truly never left me. I’ve listed them below.
- Depression-Therapy helps, as well as journaling, repetition of positive affirmations, adult coloring books, yoga, lemon balm, talking to friends and loved ones, getting out in nature-I’m adding to my list each day of things that help with depression, anxiety and overall negative feelings. I even picked up a tip from a book I read, ”I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye,” about grief. Whenever the feelings and thoughts get to be too much and no matter what I’m doing to try to stop thinking of a specific negative memory, I can’t, I slap my knee. It sounds silly but it brings me back to reality and the sting reminds me that I’m still alive to feel feelings and each one of those feelings will lead to a greater or worse outcome for me. I can usually come back from that negative thought and turn it around.
- Acceptance-Reading and journaling have helped but I’m not sure that I’m entirely accepting of my Mom’s death yet. Everyday and every activity I do in honor of her helps with that. Like spreading my Mom’s ashes with my sister Allison and choosing stones and gems to identify personality traits about my Mom that I wish to carry with me throughout the rest of my journey on this planet.
I kind of feel like I’m feeling these stages of grief at different times, not in order and in surprising ways to myself. My therapist says this is OK and perfectly normal.
In remembrance of my Mom, we had two memorials for my her so that people in both her personal and professional life could mourn. She would’ve hated all of the attention and fuss that goes on with these things. As someone who made their living throwing parties, she was never one to enjoy going to them, at least not the Mom I knew.
In preparation for the events it was nice to rummage through old photos of you, Mom and to get to hug hug your loved ones. I planned so many things for your memorial and only about 25% of them happened but you would laugh at the fact that Mando raved about the beet deviled eggs that I never put out.
“Bless his pee-pickin’ soul!” you would’ve said and rolled your eyes at our disorganization. I was spinning all day but eventually tried to just let go of the things I knew didn’t matter. It was a good and bad day with ups and downs as I expected. Death is funny in that you can’t plan it, any of it or anyone’s reactions and behaviors. You think there is a way people should act in behave, what they’ll say and do and say. How they will reach out and help you grieve. And the same goes for myself-I thought I would be some certain way, but you surprise yourself.
For me, I didn’t cry much at either event. I guess other people noticed too because at one of the memorials someone who came to pay me condolences told me I was acting like a robot. I wasn’t sure that I cared, I just felt as though I was going through the motions. I have to keep in mind that people don’t always know what to say, or do but it doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about them.
I also think it’s odd to say, ‘if you need anything at all, I’m here for you,’ or ‘call me.’ Because, well, you’re not really there for me and I’m not going to call you. I don’t have your number. And when people are grieving, they’re not so inclined to reach out. If you want to be there for me, reach out to me.
My favorite line, though, was when one person asked when I was going to get married and why I wasn’t yet. Standing across from this person I couldn’t decide if I wanted to hit him or laugh at him. I think I responded somewhere between mental patient and flight attendant-my lips pursed in a tight smile trying to ignore my urges while trying ever-so-politey to make my way down the aisle and toward the emergency exit.
Luckily, I learned from your life, Mom, not to take everything too seriously, get too offended or be insulted, if for nothing else than my own benefit. I know now she was right and as I’ve learned, carrying things with us causes dis-ease in us so it’s always better to let things go. I also have to admit that I have a hard time accepting condolences.
I think it’s only natural, though, to not really feel comfortable grieving around people I don’t feel close to or can’t connect with me on the emotional level I require. And that’s OK. I have to remember not to just take care of myself but to truly love and respect myself enough, in my case, to heal properly and give myself what I need in order to do so. Even if that shakes up my life, stirs the pot or create tension. Change is necessary in order for me to grow and heal properly.
I may not understand it now but there is a reason that my Mom left this planet at this time to be only understood by each of us in our own ways and mirrored in our daily lives.
On Mother’s Day, Allison and I spread some of your ashes in Martinez by the water. I got these crystals and stones to represent your personality. My favorite is the small, green one, your birth stone. It represents forgiveness and helps prevent the repetition of negative patterns.
Eating was difficult at first. Drinking wasn’t. I just wasn’t hungry. Which was the opposite of when my Dad died, I just wanted to stuff my face. One of the first things I got as a condolence for my Mom’s passing was a basket of fruit from one of Mando’s aunt’s and her family. It was one of the nicest, and certainly tastiest, things I got from someone. I am extra appreciative of it because fruit was one of the easier things to eat when I didn’t want to eat much. I’ve had a hard time getting back in to cooking in particular as well. To actually have the feeling of wanting to be in the kitchen and feel happy slicing, dicing, baking and blending hasn’t been something I’ve been feeling a lot. So I’ve been eating out more or buying thing at the grocery store that are pre-made or easy to assemble.
I’ve also been waiting for my quiet rage to return. Or maybe it’s that I’m digging up that rage, giving it nowhere left to hide. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s what I must do in order to live in a world without my Mom. No more hiding behind things and being able to fully feel my sadness.Because I could drink, smoke, snort away my gut-renching feeling of loss, believe me I tried, but my Mom will never be here in the physical world as she was again. There’s no point avoiding that feeling.
I will fuck up again and stumble and fall but I now I know where the line is drawn, what works for me and what clearly does not. Not coincidentally enough, some of them are very similar to what helped and hurt my Mom. I’m still learning my way and making sure to make balance a part of my everyday and really beginning to see the importance of self-love and self-care and taking action. Not just talking about it.
Mom, you died far too young. There are so many things that truly make me sad to think that you will miss in my life and Allison’s life. But those are just my wishes and things about me. Even more so though, I mourn the life that you planned for yourself. I feel incredible sadness thinking about the things you deserved and wanted to see and experience.
But I have to believe that when you died your soul became free, that it remains among the angles I believe in. Or sitting across from me like I feel like I can see you in my chair now. And with us in moments when you would be happy to experience what Allison and I are experiencing.
Still, life is forever different now, everything amplified by your death-my choices, my mistakes, the things that irritate me, the things that bring me joy, the people who drain me, the people who support my growth and share a similar path as mine. I’m also dangerously grazing the line about not giving a shit about things in life that I used to the consequences. Which is all freeing and terrifying at the same time. Mostly I feel the need to be more honest and be responsible for things I haven’t in the past and positing things I have procrastinated on.
I do, however, feel equally frozen in other aspects of my life, unable to move forward or see the path that lies ahead.It could be the lack of quality sleep I’m getting or it could also be because I’ve been floating, not walking on the pavement like everyone else, since March 27. I’ve just been watching people live and sometimes, when I hear you yelling at me to get off the couch, to live, I go through the motions, too, and I take a food picture, smile, laugh, write, read, work act normal or whatever that is for me.
Along with these sad feelings I do feel inspired and motivated by your sprit, Mom. Oddly energized and feel supported to succeed and be happy on my own terms in a way that I have never felt before. To do and be better, to live a life full of joy and happiness for the rest of my time here on this planet.
Stand up for myself and be brave. She taught me that strength is good but it doesn’t always need to be shown in the traditional sense. Look for it in other ways like making good decisions for yourself, the willingness to grow and admitting you’re wrong and ASKING FOR HELP. Strength can sometimes be seen in the things that our society encourages to go against. She taught me to say no to things that don’t support your soul’s true purpose in life. Say no to things that don’t fill your heart with joy. Live the life of your dreams even when it’s hard-especially when it’s hard. Take risks and forgive people even when it seems like you can’t… Implement Self-care DAILY as well as self-love that goes beyond pedicures and massages, although these things are great as well, and were favorite things of my Mom’s to do.
I love you forever, Wita, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Love your sweet pea,
Recommended for health and grieving reading…
‘I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye’, Mando got this at the library for both of us to read
‘Motherless Daughter’s’ by Mando’s sister Dolores sent this to me almost immediately after my Mom died. Coincidentally I was reading ‘Mother-Daughter Wisdom’ by Christainne Northrup, another highly reccomneded reading, and this book was listed as recommended reading. I had already on my eye on it and when it showed up in the mail, I was in tears.
‘Medical Medium’ by Anthony William, particularly the section on healing mediations and angels
‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom,’ by Dr. Christianne Northrup
Yoga for Loneliness, Yoga With Adrianne on YouTube
HitSF, Mission & Nob Hill SF is where I have been taking boxing
~Inspired by my Mom and a recent video I received from Hay House Publications, I have decided to do 7 Days of Mirror Work.
Check out my next blog, A Challenge In Self-Love for details and follow along on Instagram.
~Vegan French Toast Recipe~
2-4 pieces of good organic sourdough bread (I used Acmne)
1-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, I use Bob’s Red Mill
3-6 filtered or spring water
Organic Maple syrup Grad B
Sliced Organic Strawberries and bananas for topping
~Mix 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water and set aside. If you are making 4 pieces, mix 2 tablespoons flaxseed with 6 tablespoons water.
~Slice 1-inch thick pieces of sourdough and dip into flaxseed mix. Make sure to cover each side well.
~Press into greased pan after heating for 30 seconds to a minute.
~Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Top with fruit and pour syrup over before serving.