On your grieving process

My mom is dying. How do I avoid existential crisis? How do I stop being such a sour bitch to the people around me? How do I put my game face on and continue to show up to life when I don’t fucking want to, without medicating with red wine? Will I ever feel normal again?

Also: New relationship of 3 months. He says I’m not burdening him, but I’m not myself. I feel like a goddamn drag most of the time.

Tell me everything is going to be OK.


Everything is not going to be okay. Your mom is dying.

Then again, it’s okay that everything’s not going to be okay. You’re supposed to be miserable, and you’re not supposed to be yourself. What you’re experiencing isn’t an existential crisis. That’s not what’s happening. The death of a parent is its own unique kind of trauma, and your grief process has already started.

Everything you’re feeling is part of that process, and your instincts are correct, you do still have to show up for life even though you don’t fucking want to, and you do need to avoid being a sour bitch to people around you. There is no trick to it. You have to drag your ass out of bed every morning and put on a big fake smile for the rest of the world. As for medicating with red wine, don’t let it become a habit, but this is gonna be one of those periods when it happens. Just keep it under control.

Also, the relationship is tricky, especially at three months. On the one hand, I highly recommend you use every available shoulder to cry on, but at the same time, be very careful about falling in love right now. You would be shocked at how many people suddenly find themselves married soon after the death of a parent, and then a year or two later wonder what in the fuck were they thinking. I’m not kidding. That’s a thing that really happens.

The key to all of this is to let yourself grieve. You gotta feel all that horrible shit. You can’t go around it, and you can’t stay where you are. You have to go through it, and you have to come out the other side. You are facing one of the most painful and difficult experiences of your life, and it’s going to suck. The only way to make it suck any less is to accept the grieving process itself in the same way that you’ll have to accept your mother’s death.

Oh, and if it helps, you will feel normal again one day. It won’t come until well after your mother is gone, and even then, you will never feel quite the same. It will be a new normal, but you will get there. It will take time, but eventually you will be okay.


12 thoughts on “On your grieving process

  1. RocketGrunt says:

    Two months after my dad died, I showed up for my last year of college with a smile on my face and a great sense of humor. I also would not allow myself to grieve. I bottled it up and kept trying to act like nothing was different. For a whole year my hands never stopped shaking and I had periodic melt downs that freaked people out.

    Moral of the story: let yourself grieve (even while she’s alive). Cry for hours. You can even do what my mom did and occasionally scream when you’re alone in the car. Do it. It’s easier to show up for life and pretend to be a functional human being when you scream it out every now and then.

    Also, maybe try asking friends for a hug every now and then. You may worry about burdening them, but it’s probably easier for them to handle the occasional tearful hug than an uncontrollable breakdown.

  2. Anna says:

    The process of grief is important to address, but I would like to stress the fact that you most probably will be OK. And if you feel like your grief is becoming more and more complicated, or you’re regularly drinking much more wine that you think you should, please go see a therapist.
    I don’t do the praying thing but I can only wish the best for you.

  3. Light37 says:

    She’s so right about the falling in love thing. We get seriously irrational during grief. When I found out my mom had pancreatic cancer, I started looking into having a baby.

    I’m childfree.

    Yeah, luckily I snapped out of that one before I screwed up at least two lives.

  4. The Derpy Bear says:

    Both of my parents died before I was even finished high school. So it has been almost 20 years since my mom died and 12 since my dad did..

    You have to know that at first ..”it is okay not to be okay” Yes, cliche but it is true. You need to grieve, it is an important part to where you do get to being okay. You also have to know that it is also okay to not be okay again. Losing a parent sucks. I did not have the best parents and there are still times where I am sad that they are gone because they were still my parents.

    You will be okay. There might be times where you feel overwhelmed again but those times will become easier to get through.

  5. Lizard People says:

    Ugh. This post was like a kick in the guts. Sorry about your mom, OP. That shit is HARD. I recommend looking for a subreddit specific to your situation; there are people and resources there that can probably help.

  6. Marie says:

    I am so sorry about your mom, OP.

    Also, thank you Coquette for your advice to OP’s situation. I lost my brother to congestive heart failure 4 months ago and reading this has helped.

  7. Lindsey says:

    This is beautiful and perfect except for the typo in the first full paragraph. The sentence should read, “The death of a parent is its own unique kind of trauma.”

    • The Coquette says:

      Thanks. (You guys have caught more typos this month alone than in all of 2015. I really have to get back in the habit of proofreading.)

  8. Cat says:

    On red wine and romance in these matters, I did the wrong things so I offer you a few words if you’d like them. My dad was diagnosed with what turned out to be a terminal illness this time last year and passed in absolutely horrific fashion last summer. I’ve seen things. And I started a relationship right in the middle of it. I didn’t end up married or make any huge life changes there, but it did take energy that I wish I had spent on my family. That’s not to say you shouldn’t still live life and have fun (you absolutely have to!) but trust that a new romantic relationship under these circumstances isn’t the most prudent use of your energy. I wish I’d taken it slower or waited entirely. I wonder often if I put up with things and hung on so tightly to this guy because I wanted to or because of the anguish I was in.

    On red wine, please just be careful. That release gets so powerful and feels so necessary at times when you’re going through this that it can become a serious problem. If I could go back, I’d have sought out some professional help (therapist, support group) early on, before things got out of hand. Because now I’m not only grieving, I’m picking up a lot of pieces and it’s not making life any easier.

    All that being said, it does get a lot easier, and as others have said, the more you let yourself grieve, the better you’ll be in the long run. I tried to not even cry and just ended up prolonging the misery. Epic crying jags happen for a reason – they are cathartic. And they will get shorter and fewer and farther between.

    Thinking of you, dear stranger. You’re going to be okay.

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