When my Mom succumbed to breast cancer in 2003, I was not by her side. Not even within the premises of the hospital where she was taken three days before she drew her last breath, of which I was also not informed. I only learned about it when one of my siblings called me from the hospital. What followed after that was a very painful process of (a.) First, having to deal with the loss of my Mother who was the heart and soul of the family I have come to know as my own, minus the biological ties; and (b.) Having to deal with the painful drama that ensued between family members, made only worse by one ego trying to outdo another’s and, well, you must have seen enough teleseryes to know very ugly family squabbles can get sometimes.
Losing my Mom was not at all easy for me. In more ways than one, her passing had alienated me from the rest of my adoptive family and for the first time in my life, I felt so alone – literally and figuratively. Aside from one older brother who remained loyal to me from the very beginning, I did not have anyone else to talk to about the pain I was going through. I should have already gotten used to it by that time already given that I never did enjoy the brotherly-sisterly affinity that biological families enjoy because of one little thing that got in the way – DNA, which, I did not share with anyone of them. But still, losing my Mom hurt me more than I was prepared for.
Two years passed and it was my Dad’s turn to surrender his mortal body. Colon cancer took him away from us but if you ask me, a part of him died when Mom went and he died little by little every single day since. And once again, my tough and ultra-independent stance crumbled and I was left feeling raw and emotionally vulnerable.
Looking back at what could possibly be two of the darkest moments of my life, I realize how important having a good support system – composed mainly of family and friends – is. I had an abundance of the latter, but was clearly left out in the cold by the former. But I told myself, one out of two is still good and with my friends’ support, I was able to slowly get back on track and inch my way closer to complete catharsis.
During the healing process, I did not carry around a manual to refer back to for every achingly familiar situation I was about to face. But I do remember doing a lot of things which eventually led me to completely accept my loss and do what every person in the same situation must do – move on.
- I allowed the opulent pain of grief to wash over me and continously fought the urge to retreat into the dark world of denial. My mother was gone and with it came the many interesting conversations we’ve had over the years and the sooner I accept it, the better for me. And it did get better, eventually.
- I started keeping a journal which eventually turned into blogging. I would be the very first one to admit though that most of my blog entries are in no way spiritually transcendent, but by simply allowing my thoughts to flow from my head all the way through my fingertips, I have found a way to honor my loved ones and keep my emotions on check, and my sanity intact.
- I asked for help during those times when the pain of loss was most acute. I remember having countless conversations with my very dear friend Dinzo in coffeeshops or in his car. Monologue, was more like it, as I remember doing most of the talking anyway, but that was my way of letting it all out and it helped greatly.
Lastly, and I am very proud to say this, I never used my grief over my adoption and the loss of both my parents as an excuse to do bad things. I may have gone over the alcohol limit one too many times during my grieving period but I never lost control of my faculties. I took it one day at a time, all the while focusing on work, my writing, my friends, and other extra-curricular activities and before I even realized it, I was happy and smiling again.