Waiting for Shlomo: Dealing with the grief

By Erin Myers

How to deal with this grief?  I cannot even begin to put it into words.  The crying and outpouring comes in little spurts.  Mostly, I am dull, and numb, and shocked, and depressed, and busy — with my own life, and family, and busy with the last bits of her life.  I have been so occupied — sometimes too busy to grieve. Being busy IS my grief.   So busy with things that take focus and concentration, and thus are made ten times harder by my mushy, sad and shocked brain.

I have been busy planning the funeral, taking care of my Dad, trying to get all of the paperwork that goes with death completed, trying to get the credit cards, email, mail, magazines, and a million other tiny things under control.  I have been busy going through my Mom’s clothes, makeup, jewelry, and medicine, and trying to unravel her tangled life.  It is so difficult – hard to DO and hard to TAKE.

I am the quintessential oldest child — the childhood caretaker of a shy younger sister, the take-charge person who sees to the details, the giver of attention (as a child and as an adult) to a Dad who needs lots of special attention, and the second caretaker (after my Dad) of a Mom who was sick, physically and mentally, for a long time.  The one who stepped in when my Dad could not do what needed to be done.  I was my Mother’s closest friend these past several years.  My way is to DO – step in and take over.  So, I am doing and doing.

In some ways, I want all of this work to end, all the work for my Mom to be over so I can put it all behind me.  In other ways, I am so afraid for it to be over – what will I do then?  I realized a couple of days ago, that I have been unconsciously working so hard, thinking that if I could just get the work done, just do it all perfectly, when I finished, everything would be ok . . . Obviously, that’s not going to happen.  No matter how perfectly I take care of this – the social security benefits, the credit card statements, the email subscriptions, the thank-you cards, the life insurance documents, the memorial fund — she will not come back.  She is gone.  She is dead.  Forever.  How can that be?

My Mother died on Sunday, February 22.  How could it already be almost four weeks?  It feels like yesterday.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  I saw her for the last time on the Friday night before she died.  I thought we had services and a potluck at our Temple, but it turns out I was wrong.  There we were, all ready for a social evening, and we pulled up to an empty parking lot, and an embarrassed and confused me.  So, we went to my visit my parents instead.

Things with my Dad have been hard the last few years, but we had been on the mend in the couple of weeks prior, so it was a nice visit.  Isaac was the center of attention, as always, and we stayed for about an hour.  My Mom was tired, and ready to go to bed at her regular 7:30-8:30 time, but that was not unusual.  Did I hug her?  Probably not – we were not huggy with each other.  Did I tell her I loved her?  I don’t know – maybe.  What I do know is that I did not call her the next day.  I planned to, but Isaac woke up with a fever in the middle of the night, and we had a long day on Saturday.  It was Michael’s Saturday night to tend bar at Soul, so he was gone starting at 4:30 p.m.  My hands were full, I’m sure, and I probably fell asleep with Isaac when I put him to bed.  I remember thinking I should call to see how she was feeling, but I figured I would just call the next day.  Of course, I never got that chance.  I found out by 8:30 on Sunday morning that she had passed away.

Just this week a friend of mine passed away – another tragedy in my life.  This one, of course, not so close, but it hit so hard.  Wendy died last Saturday morning.  I had not had a chance to visit her in the hospital, and honestly, I was scared to visit her.  I was afraid that I would break down due to my fragile emotions, and it would be too hard on everyone.  So, I waited.  I waited to go with a small group of women on Saturday afternoon.  We planned to meet at Washington Regional at 1:30.  At 11:30, I got the phone call that Wendy had died.  We knew that Wendy’s prognosis indicated that she had only days or weeks left, but once again, I assumed that I had plenty of time.  I didn’t.

At my Mom’s funeral, my Dad said something to the effect of, “If there is something you want to do – do it now.  If there is something you are afraid of – do it anyway.”  And, incidentally, he quoted a great rock-n-roll song (that was certainly NOT the truth for he and my Mom because they were so very much in love) – “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”  He is so right.  Make that phone call – make it TODAY.  Visit your sick friend, even if you are scared – visit her NOW.  Tell your loved ones how you feel – tell them every day and tell them often.  You might not get another chance.

To my Mom, Sharon Myers, who even after 60 years of living and loving, died far too soon, and to my friend Wendy, who at 34, had her young life stolen away from her – you are missed, you are loved, you are grieved.  I am telling you today.  I am telling you now.  I will tell you forever.

By the way, it is an interesting bit of coincidence, and probably a bit more than JUST coincidence, that my Mom and Wendy have been laid to rest quite near each other – if you visit Wendy, take a little walk over to visit my Mom – tell her I love her.


  1. Erin,

    This is such an amazing piece. So much of it makes me nod my head and think, “Yeah, that’s exactly how it felt.” After my brother died suddenly several years ago, I saw a grief counselor several times to help me cope because I was pregnant at the time and knew the stress was bad for the baby, too. I remember telling her that, in a way, I didn’t want to stop grieving because I was afraid I’d lose him completely if the grief stopped. The grief was all I had left, it seemed. And I didn’t want other people to forget him. It was so hard to wrap my brain around the finality of it. I expected him to walk back in the door during the first year after he died.
    I don’t have many words of wisdom. I just wanted you to know you’re among many “walking wounded” who know how intense and raw the grief is in these first few months. You’re going to be okay. Keep writing.

  2. Thank you Erin. This is just wonderful (and terrible), and you are so right. I was scared to death to see Wendy dying, but did get to and I am so grateful. Thank goodness you were able to see your mom Friday night. That temple misunderstanding turned out to be a gift. I am sorry you have to go through all this, but your strength is shining through.

  3. This is a lovely piece, and touches close to home. My mother is 64 and will probably die within the next couple of years as a result of a brain tumor she’s fighting. It’s difficult to know how to make the most of the time we have left together, without seeming morose. But your encouragement to say what we feel often is important. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  4. you have such a talent with words, and again i find myself crying… you’re an amazing woman. absolutely amazing.

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