And here's what I wrote:
When I lost my son on November 17, 2014, the world stopped spinning. Suddenly there were no alarms, no Darth Vader sighs from machines, no 24/7 schedule of meds, no appointments to make or supplies to order, no good morning grins, no midnight cuddles, no reason to watch Sesame Street.
How do I start over in the wake of my personal tsunami?
Well, at first I didn't. First I had a mountain of "now" to consume. This whole grief thing is completely overwhelming and I had to let it overwhelm me for a bit. I let people help me, I let them cook for me and help me think. My brain stopped working for awhile. My best friend came over, made me tea, and helped me make a to do list. Then when someone said "if there's anything I can do,,,," I could whip out the to do list and read it to them.
They say it takes at least 3 months for the shock to wear off and real grief to start. I waited. After the funeral, my husband and I rented a Hippie Van and camped up and down the West Coast.. It was good to get away and not think. Coming home was pretty terrible, but I was ready to begin to deal with the catastrophic reality my world had become.
Step One: Sort through the debris
An unbelievable amount of stuff that had been precious became meaningless the moment he stopped breathing. So far I have mailed about 20 boxes and delivered about 10 carloads of medical supplies and personal things to people who can use them. I have also put out about 30 black trash bags of things no one wants. I'm probably close to 3/4 finished.
As I sort through the physical things that now have no meaning without him, I am also sorting through my mental and emotional self. The sea change hit my insides as well. We were a symbiotic team. I lost not only my son, but also my identity as his mom and my occupation as his advocate and his aide. Without him, so many things I was proud of are now irrelevant. I am disabled by grief. I feel like a stroke patient learning how to do absolutely everything again and not always sure it's worth the effort. I never know when something will remind me of him and I will feel another wave of grief overwhelm me and leave me gasping for breath.
Step Two: See what's left to rebuild my new life
As my house is evolving from ICU through mailroom into cozy ‚"empty nest" for my husband and me, I am discovering gems among the trash; things I had forgotten I owned and things I will keep forever in his memory. I am also rediscovering myself. I am so proud of the life we built together in spite of all the difficulties we faced. My role as his advocate may be over, but I will always know that I handle crisis beautifully. I learned to be so strong and powerful in defense of my son, now I need to be just as strong an advocate for myself. I learned wisdom and gratitude and patience and compassion from living with him. These are gifts I can take away from his funeral. He lived a beautiful life. It was my honor to be his mom. I will never stop loving him, or missing him, but I am learning to appreciate the person I am because he loved me.