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The Effects of Grief on Mental Health: My Personal Experience

I have sat on my journaling for some time, writing for myself in the hopes it would lend me some peace. I chose to share only the smallest of features on my social platforms, merely scratching the surface of what I have been experiencing. The response was overwhelming when I shared these vulnerable moments… family, friends, and strangers alike kept me in thoughts and prayer, and in turn, some also shared their stories in private. I was moved beyond measure and felt less alone. After my moms passing, I steered clear of sharing these delicate parts of myself. I felt they needed to be protected and if I am being honest, I didn’t want to face the reality of the loss. I have experienced a great deal of change in a very short period of time, and with these changes, I have found myself slowly redefining what I want, and most importantly, what I need. This blog was created to provide the service of wanderlust, discovering Wisconsin and beyond, and realizing that adventure is only a stone’s throw away. But I also realize the power of this platform and that my story, my truths, and my beliefs may resonate and inspire others. That this adventure we call life, with its ups and downs, trials and tribulations are worth talking about too. The power of connection, the power of positive influence, empowerment, and change – that has and always will be my goal in everything I do. And if nothing else, I am writing for me. And that’s reason enough.

Prelude: I had been my mother’s caregiver since September 2017. I happily and willingly quit my job to be of more assistance to her and my family. We found out January 7th of her bleak prognosis. She suffered from Oligodendroglioma, a rare form of brain cancer for 20 years. 

My mom passed in May. I was busy with arrangements, phone calls and taking on numerous roles within my family, bearing the weight of heightened responsibility and trying to find ways to cope with loss.

I moved in July. I was busy with arrangements, phone calls and tackling packing and boxes and coming to terms with moving to a new state, new city, new home and trying to find ways to cope with loss.

I flew to Europe in late August. I was busy with arrangements, travel and excited to get lost in foreign places and craved the idea of being far away from reality and still, trying to find ways to cope with loss.

I sit here in my new home, in a new state, with a new role. It’s October and I’m still finding ways to cope with loss.

Behind the lens, behind closed doors and forced smiles, there is so much you don’t see. The simultaneous happiness and extreme sadness taking place internally built up and left me feeling lost, broken, and tired. The reality is that each day began with simple prompts to myself – “be better, be happy.” And most days ended in silent tears for not living up to these personal, seemingly simple goals. Flashbacks of my mom’s decline became more vivid and frequent, feelings I unknowingly suppressed slowly surfaced and I noticed the shift in myself. How listless I had become. I realized how ill-equipped I really was when it came to dealing with this grief, even with an anticipated loss.

I feel confident sharing this now having sought out and receiving the help I need. I realize that staying positive by being busy is not one in the same. It’s merely a distraction. And the distractions were good until the reality of my emotions overruled what was silencing them. I am grieving, experiencing some situational depression and PTSD. It’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who by nature is inherently happy. But it happens. Life serves up dishes you can’t easily digest sometimes. But I am learning the best ways to handle these deep-rooted feelings by implementing the “tools” I have acquired to cope as best I can. Not every day is sad. Not every day is happy. It comes in waves and sometimes the sadness takes place in the most inconvenient of moments and places. I thought I understood what grief was. I knew the definition, I saw others experience sadness and loss, and I, of course, had experienced loss of others over the years. But it took a different shape, a different form and it wasn’t just grief of loss, it was grief compiled with sudden change and moving on from the hardest job I will probably ever have in my life as a caregiver. It was a multitude of things that I unknowingly tucked away in order to survive the situation. But the most gut-wrenching part of it all, aside from the loss, is feeling lost. Scattered, unconfident, scared, and confused have all been emotions I have been battling… regaining a sense of purpose and finding out what this new life looks like without someone whose life I tended to. I don’t have it all figured out, I never will. But I try to find purpose in everything and my moms battle with brain cancer – how she lived, how she died – it built me for something more. What is that you ask? I wish I knew. I plan to get more involved, to spread awareness, and to offer hope. How do I do that? Well, I would like to think sharing my story is a small step in the right direction.

Grief is different for everyone. This is solely what I have experienced.

And so I write this for no one’s sake but my own… that you don’t need to be better or even be happy all of the time. Just be what you are, what you feel in this moment, and give yourself the credit you deserve. Life is far from easy. But it’s worth showing up for.

If you feel compelled to learn more about Oligodendroglioma, I encourage you to reference Oligo Nation, an organization making huge strides in research and hopefully, getting one step closer to better treatment and a cure.

Photo Credited to Angie MyersBrain Cancer Awareness

4 Comments

  1. Myra Reilly on at 3:32 PM

    Thank you for so beautifully putting in to words what many of us have experienced with profound loss. I also was the caregiver for my mom and dad at the end of their life and I was overwhelmed with grief at their loss. I now understand what I was feeling through your words. Thank you.



    • Maria Meier on at 11:05 AM

      Myra, I appreciate you reaching out and making me feel less alone in this. I know everyone, at one time or another, will experience loss. But everyone handles it so differently. Thanks for being such a constant in our family’s lives.



  2. Lucy Nicotra on at 4:02 PM

    Your description of grief is so true! It can be overwhelming at times but that is because you and me were lucky enough to experience such profound love of a loved one! Losing a mother is truly a hard pill to swallow! Thanks for sharing as your beautiful words help ease my pain!



    • Maria Meier on at 11:07 AM

      Thank you, Lucy! Profound love – you stated it perfectly. My mom was such a giver of her whole heart. And we are so lucky to have experienced that. I know you can relate having lost your mother at a similar age, and I am comforted to know I can rely on you for support and always a good laugh. Love you.