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Grief and Love
Life isn’t about me.
It can’t be solely about me; it has to be bigger than me alone. I feel so small and I feel so big. And, I can experience both grief and love… at the same time.
My body feels small in such a big world but my feelings feel like they have wrapped around the earth one million times over.
I now can understand why I have such a difficult time with living, with existing in a world that doesn’t make sense. Not one person can say with certainty why the world was created and why I stand today.
As Jews we believe one thing, but our set of beliefs comprise less than 1% of this world’s belief. Everything we stand for is quite literally an anomaly.
I made a decision this weekend- I had to go and simply get away. Coronavirus got to me. I needed to leave the four walls of my house and the four other people in my family.
I traveled alone to a quiet house, to visit my father. And visit my mother’s grave. Something propelled me to go. I don’t know what or who or why. But I left, bags packed and all alone.
I made the 6 hours trip which turned into 8 hours alone on Friday. I sat through the three meals with my dad and I, which was so nice and yet heart wrenching at the same time. If I didn’t occupy this seat- no one else would have.
That would have meant my 58 year old dad would sit alone and a gigantic Shabbas table. A table that used to be filled to the brim with guests. My mother would turn away no one.
I sat on the couch and gazed at the wall filled with pictures. Then, I touched them. In that moment, I felt my mother’s presence in that room. Next, I looked through scrap books the community made for my family with memories and stories about my mother. We didn’t sit shiva so this to me feels a bit like shiva.
I’m determined to go to the grave.
I have not been. I can not figure out if I’m too afraid to go or scared to quite literally pass out in anguish. I’m not sure I am ready for the trip but I’m here and I’m going.
The plan was to go with my dad but the day wasn’t going as planned and I decided to go alone. I felt a numbness in my stomach “what if I can’t find her grave, what if I fall in pain, what if I can’t do this”?
But I decided this is why I traveled alone all those hours and I must do it.
I would not forget where my mother was buried. I remember every detail of the day. Driving there. Parking. Walking. Remembering my Nieces funeral. I found the stone, one says Sharon Polatoff the other Esther Reva Polatoff ( my 3 month old niece who died of SIDS).
I started to think, “I bet my parents never thought they’d have two family members buried in Rochester when they moved here.” I couldn’t help but question g-d. We were a happy family. We had our issues like every family but this mother and wife was too young to die.
I touched the stone. I saw a bug and wanted to shout, “ how dare you?” Then, it started to rain and I realized this is where my mother’s body resides and has resided for the last 2 years but her soul has left to a different hopefully better place.
I still don’t know if that’s true, but I now that’s what I am told but I don’t know anything really. And I wonder if I’ll ever be okay. What is okay anyways?
No, I’ll never get over the loss of a mother. I am a mother and every word and every breath I take is etched in my child’s brain forever, or so it seems.
I can pretend like nothings wrong when I’m at home but I can’t pretend that when my father lives alone. Or my mother’s name is written in stone on the ground.
Maybe I needed closure. Or to cry alone. Or to update my mom on each of my kids and siblings.
I needed time and space to think and process. It’s the ultimate form of self care. Actually putting your needs before others so that you can heal.
Self care is harder than I thought.
Grieving is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I listened to Malkie Hirsch’s podcast- describing how she is coping with the sudden loss of her husband. She gives me hope and strength.
But I also wonder how one person can endure so much. Yet we know our ancestors endured their entire families being killed in front of them.
What then is the human condition of grief? Is it just part of living?
All my love for my mother bubbled to the surface as I touched her things. Her perfumes, head coverings, and funny nick knacks. Grief is a really sad and hard expression of love.
If you grieve hard do you love hard? Can you have grief without love? Can you have love without grief? I really don’t know the answer to many of these questions but I had to think them through.
If you are interested in making peace with food through the principles of Intuitive Eating and the practices of self care, go ahead and schedule a free call via my website. You can work with me one on one, or sign up to be in one of my online support groups.
Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.
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