Saturday, May 31, 2008

The aftermath and reorganization

Some adjectives that could best be used to describe the past two weeks include "awkward," "surreal," "bewildering," "overwhelming" and, above all, "difficult." In other words, the last couple of weeks have sucked. Funerals are not fun; aside from the shock and grief of losing a loved one, there are a host of other tasks - planning the ceremonies, informing friends and family, writing the obituary, accommodating out-of-town guests, et cetera - that need attention. Lori and her family are very appreciative of everyone who has lent a hand during this time.

We still don't have a definitive cause of death and we still don't have a death certificate. It will probably be a couple of weeks before we have either of those, which is annoying because we really would like to know exactly why my mother-in-law isn't with us anymore.

Lori has been holding up well, all things considered. She's trying to be strong for the rest of her family, but it's obvious that she is still struggling to come to terms with what has happened and she is understandably depressed. She tells me that sometimes she feels like she doesn't want to "keep going;" that she just wants to crawl into bed and stay there. But she knows she has no choice but to move forward, even if it's just one day at a time.

We're keeping a close eye on her dad as well; he's been staying busy, trying to keep himself occupied, but I suppose he's still in a state of shock. We don't let him be alone for any length of time.

Last Thursday was Lori's youngest brother Jacob's high school graduation ceremony: a bittersweet occasion, to say the least. Many family members attended, and we cheered as loudly as we could when he walked across the stage. Even though nothing could compensate for the fact that his mother wasn't there to see him walk, the smile on his face as he received his diploma indicated that he appreciated our presence.

It won't be easy and it won't be fun - losing a parent is devastating, period - but the time has come for Lori and her family to reorganize and to move on. The process of reorganization, as it is known in grief theory, is the assimilation of loss and the redefinition of life and meaning without the person that has been lost. We know that life will never be quite the same, and the lost loved one will never be replaced, but a new life - a new concept of what is "normal" - will eventually emerge. Death is a basic component of the human experience, but so are adaptiveness and resiliency. We move on.

My project manager in Dubai wants me to return as soon as possible, but it's going to be another couple of weeks before I can get back there. There's just too much - reorganization or otherwise - going on here in Houston right now.

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