Give Mourning Time Time. 10 Tips on Grief.

My mother holding my sister, Cynthia, and me on visiting day in Camp Natchez, 1968

My mother holding my sister, Cynthia, and me on visiting day in Camp Natchez, 1968

“How’s your blob going?” my mother used to ask about this, my blog. Well, as you might have wondered, my blob fell off the edge of the earth as my mother died September 13. I’m not ready to write about her—and besides, she told me, “When you give your eulogy for me, lie.” So instead, I’m offering 10 lessons I’m learning about grief.

1. Give mourning time time. Whoa, you feel like you’ve fallen deep into the darkness. Ordinary life seems too odd to even participate.

2. You feel bad and then you feel bad when you feel happy. You don’t want to have any more sorrow and yet when it lifts for a moment and you laugh you feel awful.

3. You have to remember that just because you’re laughing doesn’t mean you didn’t love hard or that you love any less. Laughing is good. Joy is fundamental.

4. Find things to fill your well. Once you can, listen to music and you will hear its beauty in a profoundly new way. Smells take on new clarity. Tastes are sharper, too.

5. Hug a tree. Oh, I know, it seems so silly, especially if you’re caught hugging a tree in public but those trees have reminded me what it feels like to stand tall and sway in the wind and not break.

6. Be aware of your dreams. My mother has appeared twice in my dreams so far. The first time, my younger son was holding her under his arm and she was laughing. She had on make-up and her wig so you know it had to have been a special occasion.

7. Go gentle on yourself. You are in mourning time. It’s a totally different time. Slow as sand. You’re allowed to not be pumped up and ready for action. You’re allowed to just sit and look at the clouds.

8. Your heightened impatience with irritating people is directly proportional to your feeling that you can forgive everyone on the planet. We’re all human. We’re all doing the best we can.

9. Whatever soothes your soul, do that. Go pray. Go meditate. Go do finger painting. Go to where your soul finds consolation. Pour a gentle balm on your spirit.

10. And you’ll find yourself totally aware of your own mortality. You’re part of the next wave to hit the shore. This is it. Your turn next. Your turn, now, so live it up.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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16 Responses to Give Mourning Time Time. 10 Tips on Grief.

  1. juliabarrett says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I didn’t know. Dreams are the way the dead communicate with the living – a conduit. Never discount a dream. I’m glad she’s well and happy.

    • juliabarrett says:

      Diana – can you drop me a quick note – juliarachelbarrett(at)gmail(dot)com
      Have a gift for you but need an email. Thanks!

    • dianabletter says:

      Hi Julia, I never discount dreams! They are messages. Channels. I also wanted to tell you that I thought of you when I met the hospice nurse. I respect your work even more.

  2. lizjansen says:

    My condolences on your loss Diana. She sounds like quite the character.

  3. shelley says:

    So sorry to hear …..nothing really prepares you for the devastating loss of a mother …..it’s like being bulldozed from behind……be kind to yourself (become your own “mother”) …. stop doing for others and let others do for you for a change……I kept the year long Jewish mourning period even though i am an atheist, because it allowed me to indulge myself and for once not to have to do any of the things I didn’t really want to do – like going to family gatherings, simchas or even dinner invites…..and I cried everyday for over 3 years…..at some point it stops…but not the sense of loss

  4. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother, Diana. Your 10 tips are very good. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to just be gentle with yourself. The loss of a parent, no matter what age we are, is unlike any other loss. My sincerest sympathies to you.

    • dianabletter says:

      Yes, Marilyn, you are right, being gentle with ourselves is the best thing we can do at times like this. Are your parents still around?

      • I lost my dad when I was 10, Diana. I still have my mom. The loss of my husband 4 years ago is what taught me the most about death and compassion. I miss Daddy every day even after 47 years, but I will miss my husband forever and a day. I’ve learned so much since his death and have really gone deep into spiritual issues and what comes next.

      • dianabletter says:

        Oh thank you Marilyn for sharing all this. I am glad you are able to use the loss of your father and especially your husband to learn spiritual lessons…It sounds very powerful and you sound so strong. Thanks again.

  5. Oh, Diana, I appreciate all your “blobs,” but this one is the most beautiful, heartfelt, and helpful yet…or perhaps it’s just that I know I’m on the path to truly needing this.
    This post should be shared in magazine articles, anthologies, newsletters…we all have lost or will lose someone we love, and these ten tips are touchstones for healing.
    Thank you.

  6. Diana, words cannot truly express how sorry I am to hear that your mom has died. I sensed something was wrong when you didn’t pop up on your “blob”, and I wish I had contacted you. This is a reminder for me to act.
    I totally agree with Marylin’s comments.
    You will help others if you share this with a wider audience.
    May God comfort you and your family at this time.

  7. I forgot to say, hold onto the good memories like the one captured in your photo. 🙂

    • dianabletter says:

      Thank you, Tracy for your comments- and I’m glad you gained a spiritual lesson from not contacting me! We can always learn something. I appreciate your kind words.

  8. Turnip Times says:

    Grief, after a while, recedes to the background and then at the most unexpected moments, clutches your heart. When it does, I try to remember all the good things about that person and those times…it’s almost like having a quiet visit with them.

    • dianabletter says:

      Hi Joan, that is a great things to remember when we are in the midst of those tough moments of grief. We can look at them as visits with the person we love. Thank you!

  9. Pingback: Things to Know When Going through the Stage of Mourning | Scotto Funeral Home

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