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  • Writer's pictureLara O'Brien

Menopause and Grief

Recently I began, for the first time, to observe my body, sincerely. And by body, I mean mind, predominantly. Because the confusion between grief and menopause was and is startling and the memory balance is very important.

I’ve been fortunate to have a good friend who knows every single thing you need to know about the menopause. I feel like her knowledge saves me hours if not years of research. When I couldn’t sleep at all, I mean … not a full 3 hours; she encouraged me to get Hormone Replacement Treatment. So after years of waking at 3am, then more recently blaming all memory loss on Covid, and wanting desperately to avoid hot flashes and other miserable symptoms of losing your female chemical makeup (estrogen/progesterone/testosterone,) I finally got around to getting the lovely Estradot, a patch that gives you back these important chemical-balancing lifelines, before you lose them all.

A week later my father died.

I’ve caught myself many time times recently, wanting to tell the person next to me or in front of me, anyone really who is talking, to , Shut up, my Dad just died.

My God, that’s terrible Muriel, but true.

I’m not angry, or at least it’s not a flashing anger, more a weariness with the trivial. I’m mentally snappy, and thank God, no words are leaving my mouth. I just think it, then edit it, to be softer, smiley/polite and eventually say stuff like ‘I know your dog is allergic to his dry food, but he’s alive. He’ll be fine, love.”

Sometimes, I think hurling a heavy frying pan for as far as it can go, into a field, is a great thing altogether. Casting everything off.

I see points of view, actions or reactions through the lens of loss and note the emotions that arise. The tears have settled down, but the mind is closing ranks on recent memories, senses and pictures to protect from a deeper grief.

I’ve seen this blanketing of memories before and write about it often. I see it and hear it with writers on a weekly basis; what we can and cannot say, write, or hear. It's fascinating how we subdue our memories even the beautiful ones, as they bring great pain with great loss.

My daughter found my last text thread on my phone between my father and I. The ones where I promised to get him out of hospital, just days before he died. I noticed her shed her tears as she read. I won’t look at those texts, his last written words to me, maybe ever.

The wonderful thing is after all the recent exhaustion, comes deep sleep. I'm thanking the Estradot for that. I haven’t sleep deeply in years. And now I feel like falling asleep if the sunshines or the clouds move, while walking the dog, or in the middle of the food shopping. I feel like lying down and falling into a heavenly sleep. Luckily, I’m sleeping a full night in my own bed.

So on this rainy Sunday, I’m listening to the body and observing the memory bank. If the magical dot can help with memory, I'm watching which memories my mind will retrieve and which will be closely guarded until the whole body is ready to receive the most important ones, the ones of love and laughter. I know they are the precious ones, and slowly I’ll mine those gems, one tiny step at a time.

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