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Everything’s Not Fine

Everything's not fine.

Grief is a funny thing.

I'll go for weeks, feeling mostly okay, not missing her so badly, not crying for days and days.

Then BAM!

My gaze lands on the picture of my parents at my wedding.

Or when I agreed to make plans to go out to eat on Thanksgiving because being at home without her and her perfect turkey gravy is just too hard.

Or when my husband and kids decorated the giant Christmas tree that she bought when I was a little girl.

Or when made out my Christmas gift planning list and write her name after my kids' names and begin to brainstorm what she'd like.

The feelings come flooding back, inundating me with unending tears. The memories of her in the casket in the green satin shirt my sisters and I chose, of her in her cardboard box topped with flowers sliding into the crematory oven, the big, dark empty hole in my life that no one can fill.

It hurts now as much as ever, and I go about my days hiding my tears and wiping my nose so everyone thinks that everything's fine.

Everything's not fine.

On these days, everything reminds me of her:

The turtle-shaped soaps in the bathroom (a gift from her), my scrapbooking supplies (something we did together), the plants (from her funeral), the Welcome Santa sign (another gift – her favorite hobby was shopping), the cat's water fountain (she complained it was dirty and cleaned it every time she came over), the very cats themselves (she played with them every time she came over).

Everywhere I look, there she is – and it is unbearable.

I can't breathe.

I cry until my head hurts and my stomach hurts and I can find no joy, not even in the monkeys she asked to see often in her dying days. We saw her almost every day in those last weeks.

(Those monkeys would be her grandchildren, in case you're confused.)

She bought them Christmas presents. In the spring, before she needed a wheelchair, before leaving the house made her too tired, before she was a dying person who looked a little like my mom.

She thought she'd still be here at Christmastime. She loved Christmastime.

She thought she'd be the 1% who beat pancreatic cancer. She knew she would be.

I don't know how my kids will react to gifts from Grandma.

Allie is already starting to forget. She will be confused; she thinks Aunt Amanda is hiding Grandma some place. Or she did before she didn't know who Grandma was.

My friends have told me that Allie will remember her through stories and photos, but I can't talk about her right now.

I don't know how they will react to the presents, but I know how I will.

I'll take a deep breath and turn my head and wipe my nose and try to keep myself together and make everyone believe that I'm not depressed, that I'm not still shattered inside – that everything is just fine.

Everything's not fine.

© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

25 thoughts on “Everything’s Not Fine”

  1. Tara, I am so sorry… these words touched me and brought tears to my eyes. I would imagine I’d be coping much the same way if I ever lost my mother. There’s no one like a mother… and mine’s my best friend. Sounds like it was the same for you and my heart breaks for you. Hang in there, you will see her again.

  2. Sending you great big internet hugs. Of course everything is not fine! This is your mother you’re talking about! You’d be very weird if you didn’t have these feelings continually popping up. Holidays are especially hard, I’m sure. Praying for you. <3

  3. I’m am so sorry sweet Tara. I can’t imagine the depths of sorrow that comes when losing a parent. I’ll be praying for you. True, you have to keep some normalcy for your kids. But your feelings are VALID. This is the first holiday season without your mom. Of course it’s not okay. Please don’t feel like you have to pretend it is. (((hugs))) I love you.

  4. I’m so sorry to read this. I lost my dad too, when I was 15. It gets easier, but only with time, lots of it. Hang in there. Hugs!

  5. oh Tara – my heart aches for you . . .I’m sitting at my laptop in tears because I fear losing my mother . . . I can’t bear the thought of it, even though I know it will happen. So I am sending you a giant hug and saying some prayers for you to find peace . . .but know that my heart aches for you , my friend and I’m thinking of you and your family. xox

  6. It’s right to feel like this because you’re 100% right, everything’s not right, not fine, not okay. And that, in itself, is okay. Learning how to make peace with that–with living in the not-okay being, itself, okay–was the only way forward for me. And sometimes that “peace” involved falling down in the laundry room and just sobbing. Sometimes it meant not finding joy in the places I was so used to discovering it. Sometimes it meant withdrawing rather than letting my black cloud touch everything.

    That was me. Your grieving and grief will, of course, be different. I’m not telling you how to do it, but maybe I am advising letting it be what it is and not try to make yourself be or feel things you don’t. It’s hard work to honor something so painful, but I can only say that it’s better than trying to bury it. My heart goes out to you and your words rang so very true for me.

    • See, the thing is, I’ve worked so hard at the choosing joy thing. My blog is about living fully and enjoying your life. I’ve written many times about happiness being a choice, about finding peace in Jesus.

      It’s not working. Nothing is working.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      • Tara, Jesus grieved. He still grieves, as does the Holy Spirit. It is natural when things are not as they should be. We were not intended to die. We were not intended or built to perish. So it is right to grieve. For there is a season for everything. I believe it says a time to live, a time to die, a time to laugh a time to cry….. I believe it’s in Proverbs, and or Psalms. I don’t know which. Anyway….I’m sorry you are hurting. Our Lord is with you in this grief. Just know that your mom would want you to be happy. She would want you to think of the love she gave you, and that you gave her. She would want you to smile, laugh and live. If my children could hear me after I’m gone….that’s what I would say. Sending love, sweet online friend.

        • Thank you so much for your kind words. I never thought about Jesus grieving, but you’re right. The Bible verse you’re talking about is Ecclesiastes 3. It’s a good one. I might have to copy it into my journal and study it a while. I feel so alone in my grief. In my head, I know I’m not alone, but my heart feels alone.

          • I should have known that it was repeated in the New Testament. I will look it up though. I’m glad you know that you aren’t alone. Satan tries to get under our skin and convince us that we can’t see so it doesn’t exist. I just try to laugh at him and repeat the words of the Bible to him. Then he flees. He does not like to hear the WORD. LOL I’m going to pray for you tonight. I’m going to pray the peace of God surrounds you so FULLY that you have NO DOUBT that Jesus is right there with you. Keep being honest. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t ever let evil win over the love of God.

  7. I’m so sorry. I lost my dad on December 4, 1999. I was pregnant with my third child. I remember that I had put his Christmas present in the casket with him. I couldn’t even really say goodbye to him because he was in a coma for 3 months from a gastric bypass gone wrong. Time does not heal all wounds. Who could heal from losing a parent? Time does change things, though. What started as an unbearable sorrow has transformed into fond memories but still missing him all the while. Thingsdo get better. God bless you and take care.

  8. Sweetie I am on year 2 of holidays without my mom. Our last holiday with her here was Thanksgiving and on my birthday she wound up hospitalized to never come back home. No it isn’t okay. It will never be okay. But the fact you are grieving is good. As one who pushed it away and held it together because I had to be strong trust me when I say holding it in makes it catch up to you. We had presents from mom as well. Wrapped and stacked in her house before she ever went to the hospital. We spent Christmas with her, at the ICU. None of us touched her house hoping she would shake it off and come home. She didn’t. New Years eve she passed and when the clock struck midnight I prayed for my phone to ring as if she was still right behind me in her house across the driveway. It didn’t. My sister bought her house. I can’t handle it. Although mom wanted one of us to have it I can’t deal. She is planning on having Thanksgiving and if it has been like the other dinners she has had I will be forced to leave. Because I can’t breathe. I can’t think. All I can think of is where is mom. So you are not alone. I am just an email away if you need me darling.

  9. It’s beautiful that you can share openly with so many about your heart wrentching love and adoration for your mother. Your love is pouring out. Your heartache shows your tender care for her. Your willingness to share shows your love for the world. Please know that I am praying for you. I know that God is with you. The Bible says that “the Lord is with the brokenhearted.” I hope that carries you through part of today. When one day is too much to take at time, just take one hour. If that seems too much then take one minute, and if that seems like even too much then just take one breath at a time. Praying for healing for you.

  10. I’m so sorry, Tara. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. Cancer is just so horrible. Your children will remember her through those photos and stories. And the photos and stories will bring you comfort at some point. I wish I had the right words, but please know I am thinking of you and praying for you.

    • She wasn’t a saint. She was a human being with many flaws, just like everyone else. There were lots of things about her that drove me crazy and hurt my feelings and that I didn’t understand. But there were so many wonderful things about her, too. She loved us so much. Every time we saw her, she had some kind of little present for me or for the kids. At the time, it drove me crazy (who needs more candy and trinkets?), but I miss that so much now. And she was such a huge part of my everyday life – I talked to her often multiple times a day by phone, email, and text. She knew everything (we called her Dr. Gerner 😉 ) and she was always willing to give advice on any topic. Besides her physical presence, that’s what I miss the most. I could call her any time I needed to know about anything, and she would give me sage advice even if I didn’t know exactly what my question was. I don’t have anyone to give me advice now.

  11. I know how you feel. I lost my dad a little over a year ago to cancer. Sometimes it feels like things will never be right again. Thanks for sharing your heart! In a sense, it makes me feel better knowing that I’m not alone. Prayers of comfort to you!

  12. You know, it’s kind of refreshing to hear someone else is NOT fine. This will be my second Christmas without my mom and it seems harder than last year. I miss her so.

    • Thanksgiving was really and truly painful. I’ve been a mess ever since. The actual day with my in-laws was nice. We had a nice dinner and great conversation and a lovely visit. But it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. It felt like a nice dinner at a restaurant.

      I want to be okay without her. I want to not miss her so much. But I just can’t figure out how to let it go. I’ve let her go in so many ways – our day to day things don’t make me cry any more. But the holidays. I can’t picture a holiday when I don’t miss her so much it hurts.

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