The Remnants of a Life after Death

Little pieces of a person remind us of who they were

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

My mum died just over 7 weeks ago. I just had to count the weeks — wow, only 7. It seems like it was ages ago but also just yesterday.

Grief really fucks with your sense of time.

I’ve written about her death here and here. It helped to (try to) make sense of it and to record what actually happened. I also wrote as a bit of an experiment to look back on; to see how my brain was handling the shock.

The shock is less so now. But the processing continues.

A new world settles in but things are changing. All of the necessary death rituals are complete: identifying her body (like I needed to do that twice, bloody hell), organizing the funeral, having the funeral, hosting family, receiving cards and flowers, endless talking, going over and over what happened.

Crying, not crying, and wondering if I’m crying not enough. Therapy.

Now, all of that is done.

The flowers that filled the house are dead and gone. The huge floral arrangement that was on top of her casket which we had to take home (how surreal is that?) lasted a week. I spontaneously decided to pluck all the rose petals and dry them out.

I’ll incorporate into my wedding mid-year somehow.

The house and household has gone back to it’s regular sounds and activities. Life goes back to normal but with more photos of my mum around.

Which is weird in a way because when she was alive I never used to have her photo up. We had a difficult relationship and I often found her to be too intrusive. The last thing I wanted was to look at her all the time.

But now, she’s gone. In an instant her life was over.

The tension between us is gone, stopping abruptly. The tug-of-war between us ceased to exist as she disappears and I’m left spinning in space holding a stupid dangly rope. Spinning from the forces left behind when tension stops suddenly.

I’m spinning.

Now I want to have some photos of her around. I feel a strange guilt about this.

Guilt pervaded my relationship with her in life and it still does in death; albeit differently.

I get a sense of her being around, but in a completely different way. She’s no longer intrusive and I don’t mind her watching now.

Which just messes with my head.

My sister and I are sorting through mum’s house, slowly. I feel acutely aware of keeping little notes and odd documents with my mother’s writing on them. Yes, photos, but evidence that she existed, of what she did seems important.

Her writing, fabric that she chose for her dressmaker, books she bought to read. I guess I’m keeping evidence of her thinking processes. Nice ones. Not her fucked up ones which always pissed me off.

I’m being conveniently selective of what I keep. I hope I’m keeping the right things.

I don’t bloody know.

Welcome to life after death; it’s a strange land indeed.

Australian writer, sexologist, & therapist. I sometimes write about sex & pleasure. I sometimes write about weird shit, my interests & being human.

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