Metamorphosis of Grief

I haven’t experienced grief very many times in my life, and for that I’m grateful. But now, as my family gathers around my mother in these last days of her life, I am experiencing my own grief, as well as others’. And I’ve learned that everyone deals with the pain of loss differently.

One of my siblings openly grieves, cries freely, shares the stages of my mother’s passing on social media, asks others for prayers. Another takes care of others, wants only family around and cries in moments, but mostly in private. One of my siblings said goodbye to my mother a few days ago, unable to bear her passing. And another of my siblings spends time with my mother, leaves for a bit to gather thoughts and reflect, then returns to her again, all the while, also taking care of others.

I’m kind of a combination of all of them. As the oldest, I don’t feel comfortable crying in front of others, though I’ve done my share. I’ve found I deal with my grief by planning, organizing and doing. I’ve taken most of the calls from friends and family and have headed planning my mother’s funeral. Most of all, I feel the need to write about my grief and what I’ve learned. But I’m conflicted about it, because I also feel it’s a very private process.

Still, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned.

We all deal with it differently. As you can see in what I described about how my siblings deal with grief, it can be ripe for judgment from any of us about how the other deals with it. Some of us may not agree with sharing on social media. Some of us may not agree with one of our siblings not being here. And some may not agree that I write about it.

In the end, we’re all entitled to process this pain the way we need to process it, and we shouldn’t fear judgment for it, certainly not from our loved ones. We’ve talked about this in the last few days, and I feel so fortunate to have sisters and a brother with whom I can talk about such things.

Finally, I’ve learned that even with all of its pain, grief holds a kind of magic. With all of the reflecting on my mother’s life, her time with us, and the time I’ve spent with family in the last week, my grief has turned to gratitude. This metamorphosis was helped along by a video my daughter put together of my mother’s life.

For five days, Andi gathered photos from dozens of my mother’s albums. From over 600 photos initially collected, she filtered down to 450 to create a 25 minute video filled with pictures from when my mother was about three years old to a photo of her holding Tommy, her first great grandchild.

Twice now, my mother’s bedroom has been filled with her children and many of her grandchildren as we’ve watched the video and passed around the tissue. I’m not sure my mother was able to see the stream of memories flowing past on her television, but I’m sure she heard the music and our commentary as we watched.

What a life my mother has had. What a life she gave to us.

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21 Responses to Metamorphosis of Grief

  1. erinleary says:

    Beautiful, Jan. Keep writing. It’s what helped me through losing my dad, my mom and my sister in less than 18 months. You are in my thoughts.

  2. Edward Downie says:

    Glad you dropped the mask, Jan. You enrich your friends.

  3. Just simply beautiful. I can see her grace and strength in these photos. Thank you for sharing them with us. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  4. Dad says:

    Beautifully done Jan. I love your observations about the siblings’ different ways of handling grief. I am in favor of private grieving rather than the Facebook world being a part of it. You all may not realize it but I grieve as well, but not to the extent you all do. In the Lord’s good time it will all be over.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      I know you’ve been grieving, too, Dad. And for that reason, I’ve hesitated to be too public with our grief. We love you, and I’m so grateful you were with us during this time.

  5. I loved seeing the photos. My father died when I was ten years old, but my memories of him are still with me. Your memories will stay with you as well. Although parents leave us, their positive influence on friends and family lives on.

  6. Joyce says:

    Your family pictures are wonderful and the story you wrote about (sisters and grief). Yes, as unique as we all are I am sure our ways of grieving can be just as different one from the other, but the memories of happy times with your mother I’m sure are not so different, as you all share that in common.

  7. mendyknott says:

    Much love to you and yours in the this time of loss, Jan. I think it is good to write about it since this is a process we will all go through at some time. Your non-judgmental attitude is a blessing to those who surround your mom at this time, and to you. Take care of yourself. Leigh and I are thinking of you.

  8. Pingback: Metamorphosis of Grief | Sorchia's Universe

  9. Sorchia D says:

    Reblogged this on Sorchia's Universe and commented:
    This is a sad time for our friend, Jan Morrill. Even writers have a hard time finding words for such an occasion but Jan fashioned a beautiful tribute to her mother.

  10. Gwen Plano says:

    Thank you for sharing your sorrows with us. As the eldest of 9, I so relate to how you embrace this time of passing. The photos are lovely….and very precious. Blessings and my sincerest condolences. Gwen

  11. Mustang.Koji says:

    I am sorry I missed this wonderful post, Jan… Your feelings are well described but you as the oldest are in a very unique position… Wonderful photo history. You can definitely see a lot of her in you.

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