What happens to a caregiver after a loved one is gone?

It’s been six rough months.
I am about 180+Adrienne days into my new life as an orphan, and it’s time to do an ‘about face.’ (Play the music if you want the mood.) I got through the holidays all right, reached my birthday in February without falling apart and for the most part have sorted through the majority of my mother’s belongings. But now it’s time to move forward. Now it’s time for me to answer the question posed in my blog title:  What happens to a caregiver after a loved one is gone?

After combing the Internet for answers and talking to friends who have lost 220px-StAugustineLighthouse_StairsLookingDowntheir loved ones (including one who is a psychologist), it seems there’s no right or wrong way to go about this.  I was hoping for some guidance about time frames, some hurdles to get over or benchmarks to look for – that sort of advice. Alas! Like everything else, there’s no magic bullet. You just have to muddle through the best you can. And I’m also learning that just because you’re fine one day, doesn’t mean that grief won’t pop up years later and make you ‘surprisingly emotional.’
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I believe that the heart does go on…

“Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.”
—–Celine Dion, Excerpt from Titanic Lyrics

It comes to me that I should tell you a story. But it is a true story.  Honest.

Recently, I have been meeting people who have lost a parent, often a mother, and who can’t seem to get past the

overwhelming sadness of their loss. Perhaps they confide in me because I seem to be functioning well (although, don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of tears). And oh yes, I do miss my mother. But Mama always said, “There is no death,” and from that day back in 1963 when she revealed to me her previous experiences with it, I have truly believed her. (See my other posts: A Little Background, Photos and special Memories, Long March Home.)

She would go on to say that death is an illusion – much like the horizon, which no one ever seems to cross. She told me that, “If our departed friends could speak to us, they would assure us that they are now, just as we are, enjoying life, peace, harmony and blessedness, and that there is no need for grief and sorrow.”(1)

So this is why I have to tell you this story. This happened to me yesterday, but it is only one of dozens of incidents that have occurred over the past weeks. Continue reading