With grieving, there isn’t any time limit

I read a post on Facebook the other day that caught my attention.

It noted: “Those who think there is a time limit when grieving have never lost a piece of their heart.”

Very true.

And we all grieve differently.

Also very true.

I couldn’t help but think of my mother in a couple of different ways when I read that post, given this week brings the one-year anniversary of her death.

I was talking on the phone with my sister Cathy the other evening, and we had one of those how-can-that-be moments when we realized Feb. 8 was approaching. How can a year have come and gone already since mom died, we more or less marveled aloud to each other over this family milestone of sorts.

It’s funny how the mind adapts to loss, but the heart takes its time as you cycle through all those “firsts without.”

First summer. First Thanksgiving. First Christmas. First birthday. First Mother’s Day. First time you realize you’re without a parent to validate or verify your childhood.

Everything’s a reminder that something’s different, that things will never be the same nor are they designed to be, courtesy of this thing called life.

Then it’s the first anniversary itself — “the day” with all its blurriness and clarity. The relief, the remorse, the emotions galore.

The world gives you three days off to grieve and then you’re back at it. Time to report to duty.

The inquiries of “how are you doing?” — sincere questions from the well-meaning that come with the unspoken understanding of how are you managing minus that loved one — diminish, then disappear.

Poof. You’re all better. Back to “normal.”

Honestly, there are some days when I forget my mother is gone; other days, I have to stop and wrap my brain around the reality of what I was naive to think would never happen.

Just when you think you’ve got this, there’s always a heart stab waiting in the wings, sometimes sharp and swift, or just the opposite, like the way I’ve been feeling these past couple weeks, just a bit off. Maybe it was the internal anniversary alarm getting ready to ring.

My mother was a practical person not given to public displays of great emotion, which is not to say she never cried or felt loss or grieved.

When my dad died suddenly, I remember how she had a hold-down-the-fort kind of response in the midst of her grief and acceptance of her new unwanted role as yesterday a wife, today a widow.

She lost a piece of her heart, and her time limit for grieving, albeit quietly and with reserve, likely never expired until she did.

If my mother would know I was writing this column about the first anniversary of her passing, she would probably say in her no-nonsense teacher classroom voice, “Alright, Janice, that’s enough.”

So be it.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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