After the loss of my second parent, I found myself pressed into action while carrying a sense of numbness to the loss. It was a balancing act to juggle the things needing immediate attention; decisions around Mom’s home, pets and finances, paying bills that continued to arrive for weeks; for her ambulance ride to the emergency room, services of the funeral home, and a contribution for the pastor.

In some ways these tasks added to my sense of numbness while in other ways they gratefully triggered the release of needed tears. Sometimes all I could do was sit back and be still. Because it was deep winter, I remember starting each day with a cup of coffee at the picture window in my home. The stillness of winter outside seemed an apt reflection of the frozenness I felt inside.

Looking back, some of the activity required of me served to carry my along the river of grief. I wasn’t completely standing still. I was needed and I had appointments to keep. The activities provided some structure for days that seemed to stretch endlessly into a future without any parents.

On the other hand, these activities could press in until I felt overwhelmed or as if I were mechanically addressing each item. I was grateful for friends who called to check on me. Often they could ask a simple question that opened me to the self-care I needed to attend to.

How are you sleeping?

Have you had lunch yet? Can we have lunch together?

What can I pray for you today?

While it may feel good to completely isolate yourself during this time, it may also support your journey to open yourself to the support of one or two key friends. On difficult days, give yourself permission to screen your calls, limiting contact to those who truly listen and support your needs. Be gentle with yourself. Stay connected to those who are gentle with you, too.

Peace be with you,

Deb Buehler

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