The Death of a Mother - More Than Just Grief
The End of a Chapter
I lost my Mom last year. I thought I was prepared for the grieving process. My Dad had died 9 years earlier. I've lost other family members and friends. My mom had been sick, and suffering for over a year. I wanted her to find relief and had made my peace with the idea of her passing on. My family and I had been grieving for that 18 months in stages. The concept that I hadn't considered was that losing a mother cannot be compared to any other loss or experience.
I hadn't realized how much it meant to know that my Mom was there, around the corner, to listen or give advice or just give a hug. It's not really the need for advice that makes this a loss. It's the idea that the woman that took care of you as a child, that helped to create who you are and how you would view the world, is no longer there. We have our parents all of our existence, until suddenly, we are parentless. It's a new chapter in life. Whether or not I agreed with my mom's views, I was used to measuring my opinions against hers. When she gave encouragement or advice I could be happy for the help. When I disagreed, I could remind myself how different we were.
While some must suffer the loss suddenly and then cope with the sudden loss of conversation and contact, I was able to go through that stage very slowly. My mom died of Alzheimers. She first went into a nursing home and it became difficult to call her to chat. She became confused, but at times we had normal conversations. Then she became less and less able to communicate on important issues, and eventually was barely able to speak. So when she died, I had already accepted that she wasn't there to call or chat. I thought that would make it easier.
The problem was that, after the intial grief, the idea that my mom no longer existed on this earth seemed to shake my view of life. Everyone knows that someday their parents will die. The thing that hit me was that a whole, major part of my life was over. Every part of the relationship and connection was over. As memories spring into my mind, I realize that was past, and never will be again. I might be driving down the road and see a heron flying over. This triggers my memory of our favorite camping trips. Then I realize that now, it is just a memory, and my mom will never be able to join us, or even reminisce with us.
Why does this revelation hit me so hard? I've experienced death before, but it's something about the fact that it's my mom. I admit I miss the understanding ear, the soft shoulder and smiles that made me feel like everything would be alright. I think it's that my mom was a touchstone. I've lost an important touchstone in my life, and I realize that life is always changing and I'm not sure what's next. I'm now the touchstone for many in my own life, and I miss the wisdom that she shared with me. I hope that I absorbed enough to last for the rest of my life here on earth. I think of things I wish I'd said and questions I wish I'd asked.
So many times I hear others talk of their moms and I silently whisper to myself, appreciate her while you have her. I have spoken the words aloud at times, but I fear the true import of the message cannot be understood until it is experienced. At least I had my mom for a good portion of my life. Some lose their moms way to early and that grief and loss cannot be compared to losing a mom that is older. If anyone needs help with the grieving process there are some amazing blogs on here that relate to death and loss. Be sure to find someone to talk to and give yourself time to grieve. I thought I was prepared, but my mind and body did things I didn't expect. Grief takes its own time and its own course with each of us. Life is precious. LIve each day and each moment like it could be the last. You may have years before you experience the loss of your mom or another loved one, but those years will be filled with precious moments.