Sometimes, life hands us lemons. We’ve all heard it…we need to make lemonade. My mother used to always say, “You have to decide to be happy.”
Every single day since I lost my mother in December of 2017, I remind myself that I have to decide to be happy. It’s not that I haven’t experienced any happiness, but sometimes, when I get sad about having lost her, it’s hard to bring myself out of it. And every time, I hear her say, “You have to decide to be happy.”
I try not to write about death and loss very often, because I know people don’t want to hear about it. I know it’s a downer. I know that sometimes, I feel better if I think of something happy. But right now, it’s OK if no one wants to hear about it. It’s OK if everybody skips over this, because right now, I need to write about it.
I’m in the process of closing out Mother’s estate. No, there were no loose ends to tie up. She made it as easy as possible. She had a will. She listed survivors on bank accounts. She didn’t have any debt. She made it easy. Maybe if she had made it complicated, I could have gotten angry with her and been in a bigger hurry to close everything, but nope…she made the division of assets easy. Yet, I still haven’t closed out the estate, and it’s time for me to do it. I should have done it six months ago, but it’s downright depressing.
In fact, I feel more sad now than I did immediately after her passing. Weird, I know, but I guess I feel like closing out the estate is like closing the final chapter on her life. There have been days that I knew would be difficult…my parents’ anniversary, Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas Eve (the anniversary of her hospitalization), Christmas Day, the anniversary of her death (December 30)…but I never expected this part to be so difficult. I thought it was completely transactional, and being a tough chick, I thought I’d be able to treat this as a transaction. But I can’t. I realize that now, because I’ve been delaying it…and I’ve been sad.
And I’ve been off my game. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of regular life, but deep inside, I’ve been off my game since she took her last breath.
And now I’m faced with closing the book on the estate.
But something occurred to me today: Maybe…just maybe…it will be freeing. That’s all I can hope. Maybe I will feel a little sense of freedom, like a weight has been lifted, when I sign all the papers. Maybe closing the estate will actually make me feel better. We’ve all had times like that. We put something off because it’s scary, but once it happens, we feel a sense of relief or freedom. I have friends who put off signing divorce papers, because it was depressing, but once they did it, they felt like the albatross had been removed from their necks. Maybe the estate is my albatross? That sounds terrible. My mother would not like it that I referred to it that way, but she doesn’t get a vote in this.
After my daddy died, mother was talking with her doctor about anti-depressants, and she said, “My husband wouldn’t like it.” The doctor, very calmly, said, “Your husband’s not here anymore. He doesn’t get a vote in this.” And he was right! She knew it, and she actually laughed! For the record, she started taking the anti-depressant, and it made a big difference in her approach to life. Sure, she was still grieving Daddy, but the anti-depressant helped her decide to be happy.
As soon as I receive all the paperwork, I’ll sign off on closing the estate. In fact, I’m going to invite friends to a brunch at my house for that very day, so they can come over and drink some champagne with me to celebrate the closure…the freedom.
Mother would laugh about that, and she would be happy to know that it’s done.
I will decide to be happy…just in time for spring!
With Zack’s passing I learned that everyone grieves differently, and also that a lot of people don’t agree with the way you grieve, but I didn’t really care what they thought. It has been 11 years since Zack left us and his clothes are still hanging in his closet, his bed is still unmade,(the way he left it that morning), his room is the same as he left it that day and I am just not ready to change it. So I don’t think it’s abnormal at all that you haven’t closed the estate yet, and anyone that hasn’t gone through something like that will never understand.
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Thank you for sharing, Pat. Grief is hard, and it can’t be defined, because it’s different for everyone. God bless you, my friend.
Grief comes in waves. It really is a journey, culminating in a shipwreck. Even after the maelstrom and the crash, there are many waves that come crashing, many when you least expect them. Many things get managed immediately. Others can wait, and some get intentionally delayed. It took me nine years to go through the ziplock of the contents of my husband’s bedside table. It was the first of those waves that didn’t knock me down. Be kind to yourself. There are no rules with grief and it has no expiration. And YES- at the end of the wave, pick up, dust off, dig the sand out and swipe your eyes and CHOOSE HAPPINESS. Because that is what the people we love want for us. 💗
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Jennifer, I love you! Thank you. Beautifully written.
Dear friend, you have helped me deal with the overwhelming grief of losing my baby brother more than I can say. I can only hope that you have gathered courage and comfort from the many friends who love you, and who understand this necessary process. If anyone can do this, you can. You teach me to CHOOSE HAPPINESS every day. xxxooo
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I love you, Linda! I hope you will join me for the brunch…as soon as I set a date!❤️😘