I think when people die in a really terrible or unexpectedly shitty way you question why they are not here.
When my mom died I kept repeating, "She's not dead. She's not dead. She's not dead." and "She has things to do." It would eventually become chant that led, mostly, to me hyperventilating.
She was someone who liked to be busy and the center of attention. My sister is getting married and she was supposed to be there to handle stuff like cooking for the bridal shower.
The finality of my mom being gone did not set in until I was sitting on the phone listening to my family making funeral arrangements.
I knew my family would not spend that kind of money if she was not dead.
Later that evening I changed my phrase to "She's gone and someone else will have to do the things she did."
I made people listen to me say it over and over again. It was my new mantra. I was afraid if I stopped confirming that she was dead I would lose my way again.
I also said "She's safe" a lot. Her life for more than two decades had been a chaotic cycle of drinking-unemployment-jail-bad relationships. There were stretches of calm and productivity, but there was always something waiting in the wings to trip her up.
Most of the time that foe was alcoholism.
At the funeral my dad's friend went around to a bunch of us crying and saying "She's safe."
It broke me and made me feel better that someone else was acknowledging the chaos and constant fear we lived in.
We held each other and I whispered "She's safe?"
"She's safe," my dad's friend said.
A few days ago I talked to my mom's husband.
Suddenly he said, "We had plans for the future."
"We had plans."
Once again I felt my heart breaking.
It hurts watching or hearing about other people doing the things that she was supposed to be doing.
It is also good to know that my family is surrounded by so much love and support.
Support and love is probably what is saving and maintaining us all.