Grief is something I’ve become far too familiar with over the last 5 years. It wasn’t until recently that I started to pull myself out of the depression that was the aftermath of 2016-2019. I suppose it was a blessing in disguise that it took me so long to stop struggling with Lesson 4. I crashed pretty hard in July. Finally, about halfway through August, I found the strength to seek help.
Back in May 2016, my sister Pauline passed away after battling kidney disease for several years. While grief from a close family member wasn’t new, it felt like it had been a lifetime. Twenty years had passed since the loss of our mother. After mom’s death, Pauline became the sister who took care of everyone, whether we wanted her to or not. Even though Pauline had been ill for so long, her death was shocking and so unexpected. I was in the middle of two big projects at work and they came to an abrupt halt.
Work stopped. Life stopped.
I remember leaving work but don’t remember the 2-hour drive back to the ex’s, where I was house-sitting at the time. I don’t remember the trips back and forth between there, where I live now, home, and my apartment. All I remember is overwhelming heartache with a splash of sunsets fading in the distance as I drove from one place to the next.
In March 2017, less than a year later, my sister Bonnie had a procedure done at a local hospital. A few days later she went to the ER because got very sick and was transferred to another nearby hospital. She went into septic shock. Because she was in need of liver and bone marrow transplants, her body was not able to fight and her organs shut down. We lost her a few days before her 50th birthday.
This loss was impossible. When I was young I would get sick when I was away from her for too long. We drifted apart as we got older but that attachment was still there. And it didn’t help that I was still grieving the loss of Pauline.
A short 5 months later in August 2017, my beautiful Freya girl crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Her loss nearly broke me. Unfortunately, I was unable to grieve her the way I needed to because my ex was so completely overcome with grief that he was barely able to function. I couldn’t talk about her. For months, it was impossible to sleep while I was there because he would wake up sobbing uncontrollably. He refused to talk to anyone and I was left trying to hold him together while I was deeply grieving her loss and the loss of my 2 sisters. And then he had the audacity to tell me that I didn’t know what it feels like to deal with death. I still have no words and don’t know how or why I decided to look past this narcissistic behavior.
Going into 2018, I had just one New Year’s wish. To get through a year without someone I loved dying. What a wish.
The wish came true. Unfortunately, it wasn’t without struggle.
My brother, who was in kidney and liver failure, moved in with me and I became his caretaker. Previously, he lived with my sister Bonnie and had been living in her house. His health was declining so he could no longer live alone safely. He was in and out of the hospital for most of that year.
2019 was the most difficult year by far. I lost 2 friends; one in February and one in April. My brother passed away in July. All 3 of them passed away from cirrhosis of the liver. The ex picked a fight with me on my way home from the hospital the morning my brother passed away. We broke up. A week later I had a very early-term miscarriage. He didn’t answer my calls for nearly 2 months.
With so much loss so close together, not being able to properly process anything, not having a solid support system of family and friends, it’s no wonder why I just… broke.
While my mother’s loss changed me somewhat because I had to learn to navigate life without my only parent, the loss I experienced in just a few short years completely changed who I am.