Dealing With My Mom’s Death

Question: Dear Luise: How can I deal with the pain of my Mom’s death? Luz

Answer: Dear Luz: We have to deal with the pain of losing a loved one very, very slowly. They are with us and then, suddenly, they aren’t. Even if there is a long illness, and we think we’re ready, most of us find we were sadly mistaken, and “ready” is the furthest thing from our experience.

“Slowly” does not work well for most of us. We hate it. The pain is just too terrible to have to drag it out. However, that’s the way we adapt and learn and move on, slowly. We have to start out feeling the awfulness very honestly. People often try to by-pass that, only to find that denial usually makes it worse.

No matter what our spiritual beliefs, after death the person is not with us in the physical, material way we were used to. The instant absence of that physical being, the person that we knew so well, is a loss beyond our comprehension. Still we need to feel it acutely and strongly and honestly.

Where Moms are concerned, we have known them since we first drew breath. They’ve been the one constant in our lives…the glue

Moving through a loss has a course, like a river. It has a current and it takes you someplace. The loss never “goes away” but our experience of it goes from shock, to despair, to a kind of “getting familiar with it” feeling that eventually becomes acceptance. None of this can be hurried up. It’s a slow process. There’s that word again.

Everyone has a different way of dealing with the death of a loved one. I take a large pad and write to the person…constantly at first. I have lost many dear souls in my long lifetime. At their passing I write to them and pour out my feelings. Then I write back what I think they would say to me, if they could, and I take comfort from that. My way isn’t everyone’s way. You will have to experiment to find out what yours is. Some people take walks and have talks. Some connect through prayer and meditation. I honestly believe that the person “lost” is just a thought away.

It takes time to rearrange your life and get used to not having your loved one available. Give yourself that time. There are grief counselors, if you want and need outside help. Also, some people go to www.emofree.com for techniques to help disburse the build-up of emotional pain.

The bottom line is that we want to love others with all of our hearts, and when we do that, separation is going to be experienced as devastation for most of us. Love is natural, and so is loss. They go together. Blessings, Luise

43 Responses to Dealing With My Mom’s Death

  1. Jeannie June 19, 2006 at 6:01 pm #

    My Mother died on December 20th, 2005. She was 93. She was strong and healthy, but had a fall and died from complications. I can not stop crying. I miss her so much and I feel so guilty about so many things that I should have done for her. Everyone says that she was so proud of me and loved me so much, but I feel that I let her down in so many ways. Friends and relatives tell me that she was the most gentle and kind person that they ever knew. She was. Is guilt part of the grief process? I am really struggling with this. Thanks.

  2. Luise June 25, 2006 at 2:40 pm #

    Dear Jeannie: A great deal has been written about the stages of grief. What we need to remember is that we are all unique and each of us is going to experience loss differently. There may be people out there who believe they have a perfect track record with a deceased person. None of us do, of course. We all fail sometimes…because perfection isn’t an option for humans. We all succeed just as often. Also, what we believe about the eternal aspect in each of us, (or the lack thereof), factors in, too. When I lose someone close, I write to them daily as for long as I need to because I think they have “gone on” in some sense of the word, and so are still available to me. I even go so far as to write answers from them to me. Guilt is a huge waste of energy, whether it’s true or false, isn’t it? Why not put your energy into something positive? What would your Mom want? I bet she would like you to start writing down every thought you have of gratitude where she is concerned. Isn’t it possible that she will contribute to your healing, if you let her? Why not also write down every nice thing she ever said about you, too? Trust her point of view. You know how much she thought of you. Was she wrong? No way! Few of us get to escape a period of remorse after a death but I’m sure our loved ones don’t want us to get stuck there. If you are willing to consistantly take pen in hand when you first wake up every morning and spend some time with your Mom, you can turn this around. Eventually you will write less and less often. It will just happen naturally. Let her help you help yourself. Blessings, Luise

  3. char worman July 14, 2006 at 1:12 pm #

    i feel the same way that jeannie does , ijust wish i had done more for my mom .

  4. Stephanie July 18, 2006 at 5:00 pm #

    My mom passed away about 3 mos. ago from cancer she was 52 yrs. old. She struggled with it for 2 yrs. It is so hard for me to realize she’s gone. She was my best friend. I feel like I have know one to talk to and share my feelings with even though my dad, sister and brother are here for me. I tould my mom everything and now I see myself be very emotional, angry and selfish with my husband. I just don’t know what to do. I miss her so much.

    • C. January 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      We have very similar losses steph my mum was the same age as yours and had the same battle I’m a mess an have been for many years I still carnt deal with my loss I have no other family because 1 year later my mum sis died same thing sorry I hate saying that word 6 mounts later my gran died then 2 years after my uncle my aunties husband my mums boyfriend went on holiday just to gt away an think unfortunately the flight back cause a blood clot which the docs said would be easy to remove he Neva woke back up doctors tod my mum she had a slip disc for a year before they found out e true cause by then it had spread everywhere its been almost 10 years now and I still feel very unstable my dr just filled me with antidepressant which made matters much worse I just don’t no how to get this pain out of my head I feel so much for your loss xxx

  5. Luise July 19, 2006 at 2:53 pm #

    Answer: Dear Char Woman: I think all we can do is feel the feelings and know that there’s no way around them…just through. I have a very strong feeling that those who pass on might have to deal with the same thing…feeling that they wish they’d done more for us, listened better, been kinder, etc. Very few of us reach the expectations we set for ouselves. If we ever did, we’d probably just raise the bar. I think it’s really healthy to share this stuff and know we’re not alone with the burdens we put on our own shoulders. Blessings, Luise

  6. Luise July 29, 2006 at 5:09 pm #

    Answer: Dear Stephanie: It is too soon to expect much else. You are too raw. Such intimacy is priceless and right now it must seem to you that it’s gone forever. It doesn’t have to be. Many people simply aren’t capable of such closeness but you are. Your Mom probably gave you the gift of opening yourself up to another and letting someone else in. If not, she sure was willing to share it with you. As you heal, know that you can find another friend and confidant. I have six like that. They are out there. Blessings, Luise

  7. Lisa September 7, 2006 at 10:20 am #

    I just lost my mom to cancer 2 weeks ago she was 59 – she was also my best friend – right now it feels like she’s on a vacation – I’m told it will get easier – I miss having her here and talking to her – listening to her comments & just being there for me. I try to talk to other people but it’s just not the same.

  8. Luise September 10, 2006 at 8:28 pm #

    Dear Lisa: Two weeks is very, very new. It will take you time to get that your wonderful Mom is gone and yet she’s still close. You miss her physically and there’s no way to get around that. You have to go through it. I don’t know if you like to write or not, (some people hate to), but when I lost my Mom, I wrote her every day for a long time…and I wrote her answers to me. It was a huge comfort because we just kept on chatting. Eventually, I was able to adjust but it took me a long, long time. Blessings, Luise

  9. Debbie October 26, 2006 at 7:19 am #

    I lost my mom Oct 17th,2006. She was not sick or anything. She just went to sleep and woke up in heaven. I am devastated. My mom and I were very close. We had just relocated to SC from MD and had been here for a week when this happened. I wonder was the move too much for her? I was in Chicago at the time for work and she did not show in the morning to help my husband with my 9 yr old for school. She was 68. I feel lost and alone. I have moved 3 states from all my friends. I am having such a very difficult time dealing with this. My dad died when I was 22 to cancer and the pain I had then was different since I had a warning. I feel she was ripped away from me though. I have 1 brother but he and I are very distant. In fact the funeral was the first time I had seen him in almost 2 yrs. I am still dealing with cleaning out her apartment and all. We were here a week and she had the whole apartment entirely unboxed and she was ready to start working again she said. I do not know how to deal with this now….it does not make sense to me. I did not get to say good bye or tell her I love her one last time. How do I deal?

  10. Luise November 1, 2006 at 12:30 pm #

    Answer: Dear Debbie: I will treat your comment as a new question in the near future. Blessings, Luise

  11. Stephanie January 15, 2007 at 5:10 pm #

    It will be 1 year in April since my mom passed away. Her death has really put a toll on me and my marriage. I still think why did this happen to my mom she was young and still had a long life to live. I am still struggling with her being gone. I have made myself distant from my friends and my husband. I just don’t know how to get pass this. My dad has a new friend in his life now which is making things better for him. But I just wish it would get better for me.

  12. Luise January 15, 2007 at 9:27 pm #

    Answer: Dear Stephanie: Your dad is doing what many people do…turn elsewhere for comfort and a new beginning. It works for many, including my husband who married me in less than a year after he lost his sweetheart of 60 years. There is no such avenue open to most sons and daughters. My mom has been gone for 50 years and I still miss her terribly. Not all the time but on a regular basis. She too left too early. My son died at 52 and I just had to give up asking why I wasn’t taken instead of him. I think it’s time for you to get some help. Grief counseling is very specific and you need to honor yourself and your marriage if you can, by seeking some help with this. We are all different. Some people sail right through losing a mom and others are hit so hard they have a terrible time getting their balance. I once had a friend who was telling me all about losing her mom and describing how she felt. It was excruciating. I asked her how recently it had happened and she said 25 years ago. Don’t le that happen to you. Blessings, Luise

  13. kearston henley June 6, 2007 at 11:36 pm #

    my mom just passed on the 23,may,2007. i am 28 and she was my only friend. Cancer is such a horrible way to go. I got mad at God is that normal? For some reason i am mad at my boyfriend and he has not done anything wrong. My mom was only 60 my dad is a truck driver so i just keep telling myself she is on the road with him. I can’t bring myself to go to the grave site. Its like i just can’t believe she is really gone.I dont know what to do or who to talk to. I am screaming inside and no one can hear me. I am so scared she has always been here and now shes not i just want her to come home. i have never lost anyone close to me before so these are all very new feelings i have and i do not like them at all. I will open her bedroom door just to smell her. when her hair started to fall out we just went ahead and shaved it I kept her hair I have the sheets she died on, the night gown she died in. Am i crazy or sometimes I feel like I have gone crazy. thank you Kearton

  14. Luise June 13, 2007 at 12:32 pm #

    Answer: Dear Kearton: I am going to treat this as a new question because you have broached some additional issues. Blessings, Luise

  15. rick h February 9, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    My mum pasted away on Jan. 9th. 2008 but we didn’t bury her till 30th, Jan. I have never felt so much pain in my life. I just wish it would stop. I live in Yorkshire and my mum lived in Coventry. I feel guilty that I didnt get to see her on the day she pasted away. Plus my family didn’t inform me and I had no say in the funeral arrangements. So why do I feel so empty and guilty? For the first time in life I feel so scared. R.

  16. Luise February 9, 2008 at 9:09 pm #

    Dear R. I don’t think we are ever ready to lose our parents and I don’t think we ever feel we did it right or did enough. It just happened. Of course you feel terrible. I know you did countless things that brought her joy. You just can’t remember them right now. Start writing down the good memories and when you can, focus on them, lovingly. Blessings, Luise

  17. D. November 11, 2008 at 4:08 pm #

    I lost my mom 2 days after Thanksgiving 2007, and buried her on her 74th birthday(nov.27,2007)This year Thankgiving is on her birthday, its hard to deal with. Its my 1st Thanksgiving without her. I never left her side in my 44 years on this earth. I will not celebrate or eat dinner this year.

  18. Luise November 11, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    Dear D. You are one of those rare people who have no regrets. If you are sure she would like you to do that on Thanksgiving this year then it will probably bring you comfort. Blessings, Luise

  19. D. August 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

    I just lost my Mom on July 23rd 09 We buried her 14 days ago. I HURT SO BAD..HELP!!! I need to let it out, and let SOMEONE know about her passing and why. D

    • Luise August 11, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

      Dear D. Please feel free to write more about the loss of you mom here. I hope it will help you. Blessings, Luise

  20. S. March 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    I lost my mother on July 21st, 2009 and i still can’t handle her death. I have not cried since her death. I am so lost and I can not go on like this…please help. S.

    • Luise March 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

      Please read the other questions on my site under this heading. There may be something there that will help you.

      Some of us are not criers. I’m not and I wish I were. I talk to someone who tells me that they cried for days…and I wonder how they did that. I can’t cry for minutes. I tear up and I may let out a wail or two. That’s it. When I lost my mom and even when I lost my 52 year-old son…that was it.

      If you feel you can’t go on, please be kind to yourself and find a counselor or a Grief Support Group to give you a hand. Blessings, Luise

  21. D. June 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    It passed one year from my mother passing.I can’t cope with her death.Each day I cry and I sleep thinking to my mother and I wake up with her in my mind.I lost my father 4 year ago and I am alone,no brothers or sisters only a few friends.With my mother part of my soul,heart passed away.For me there is no Christmas,Easter or other holidays ,only pain, every day.I should want to be with my mother,as there is no reason to be here.
    She was the best ,sweetest mother in the world,and I regret that I couldn’t accomplish her dreams to travel to Paris,Rome,etc.
    The sadest person in this world.for me there is no future only past and hope to be in the shortest time with my mother. D.

    • Luise June 16, 2010 at 7:15 am #

      Please consider counseling. Your life is a gift from your mom and accepting death is part of it. Blessings, Luise

  22. E. July 8, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I lost my mom on June 2nd 2010 she was 62 years old. A little over a year ago she was diagnosed with Lung cancer, but recovered from it. A couple of days before she passed she was having chest pains and I took to her the hospital. They kept her overnight and all her tests came back normal. She was released to go home and that night she died suddenly… Apparently of a heart attack. I was not there when she died and I feel very guilty that I should of stayed with her that night. I feel that if I was there I could of saved her..I don’t know how to go on everyday without her and this guilt is killing me inside. E.

    • Luise July 8, 2010 at 10:54 am #

      Your mom was very lucky to have you and if the hospital didn’t know, how could you? When our time comes, it just does. We can’t be saved from the normal life/death process. It doesn’t feel normal buit t is. Guilt is inappropriate and damaging…turn toward your love for each other and your memories and face the loss as best you can. There are grief support groups out there that might help. There’s no way around it, we all have to go through it and none of us do it perfectly. We aren’t perfect creatures. We’re human. Sending love…

  23. M. July 15, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Dear Luise: My Mother, my best friend, passed away a year ago this week. I am finding it harder now than last year. She battled cancer for 11 months before she passed. I took time off from work to support her and my Dad. I sat with her during almost all of her chemo. sessions and met with the oncologists with her. She was diagnosed exactly a year after my maternal grandmother passed. Losing these two women in less than 2 years has been devastating. I am fortunate to have good friends, but I don’t have a sister or any female role models such as aunts. My Mother-in-law is very sweet, but I am not very close with her since she lives in another state. I love my Dad, but he is not my Mom. I feel so alone. It’s an emptiness I have never felt before. Please help. Thanks. M.

    • Luise July 16, 2010 at 7:53 am #

      It’s terribly hard to have life be the way it is and want it to be different. We aren’t taught to integrate death into life…it’s too final and the loss is too great. Yet we are all only alive temporarily. See if you can find a place where you can volunteer to mentor children who are without role models. You have learned how priceless it is and there are many who have never experienced it. Blessings, Luise

  24. A. March 21, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Iam 16 now, and my mom died 3 years ago when i just turned 13 for 2 days .. she was only 37 years old.
    She died 13th of January 2008.
    she wasn’t dealing with cancer or anything, her heart just stopped. anyways, i ran across this article and decided to post my story aswell.

    and dealing with loss is one of the most hardest things people have to do in their lives. but sometimes it becomes unbarable for me, after 3 years i’ve only started to cry more. and starting to worry about myself. A.

    • Luise March 21, 2011 at 11:32 am #

      tt’s often too hard to go through such a loss and find your balance again without help. Please see if you cann get some grief counseling. It will help.

  25. A. April 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    I lost my mom 2 years ago and I am still having a hard time dealing with her lost, and 1 year ago I lost my dad which is now very difficult for me, I really don’t have anyone to talk to. I have my husband but I will not talk to him about it, how can I deal with this every day. to me it seems I lost all of my heart. thank you. A.

    • Luise April 5, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      It’s time to find a grief counselor. Many of us need help with accepting such a loss. Life and death go together and it is often very hard to go on until we again feel whole without some outside help. Be kind to yourself instead of trying to go it alone. Sending love…

  26. K. April 24, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    I lost my mom just before Thanksgiving 2010. Thanksgiving was bearable because my very large family was all together even though a few of us were not getting along at the time. We did what we had to do to make it work. Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, my birthday and now Easter are unbearable. My child is with my ex for many holidays due to visitation schedule and I am often alone. I get invitations from other family members and friends – I have a great support system – but I just want to be alone and I cry most of the day away. I miss the traditions that I had with my mother. I was very close with her and my child and I still lived with her. Her health was declining for the past 10 years but until the past 2 years she was fairly independent. The past few years there was a decline in her quality of life and she was in and out of the hospital many times due to heart problems. I know I need to move on and make new traditions for my child and I to enjoy and create a good life for us like my mother created for her children after my father passed away at an early age. It’s just hard right now due to all the changes I’ve had to make. I had written her at Christmas and dropped the letter off at her gravesite and I’m thinking about doing that today for Easter before I pick my child up from visitation. I miss her dearly and I know someday the pain will subside little by little with time but for now I just needed to vent to a neutral party. Thank you for listening. K.

    • Luise April 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      You are doing well even though it doesn’t feel like it. It’s only been months. I lost my mom 57 years ago and I still write to her sometimes and then I write answers back from her. Death is part a life…they go together but it is very, very hard to lose a loved one. Bless your heart.

  27. K. April 24, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Well, just finished writing this post and my radio came on by itself. I never use my clock radio because the radio usually doesn’t come in clear and is always static. It was perfect this time and a commercial was on talking about planting perenial flowers because they come back year after year. I’m going to take that as a message from my mother to plant some bulbs to remember her because like the perenials, she’ll be with me year after year! K.

    • Luise April 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      Good for you…you were thinking about her and open and she got through! Wonderful!!!

  28. broken heart May 1, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    I am 25yrs old, I lost my mother at the age of 21. I still remember the feeling of losing such a big part of my life. I could not understand how a great humble mother can leave this earth. At times I still feel like I want to bust out crying. My heart aches and mourns for that motherly love……..it will be 4yrs this month on the 6th. And I just can’t stop thinking about how lucky some people are to have their mom! I get advice saying that time heals all pain, but I don’t think time can heal this pain. My advice to those who have lost someone soooo dear to them, take time to heal. Let it be on you own time. B.

    T.L

  29. M. June 5, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    I feel your lost, you are never prepared for the lost of a mom, a mom who is special to you in your own way, I think the lost of a mom will bring out the qualities she instilled on you when you where growing up, she taught you to be strong, my mom is my best friend, she was tought, smart, a fighter whe she had no rights as a human,look back at your parent’s life and take a good look, they fougth for thier right to be consider as humans, to be accepted a equals. M.

  30. J. March 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I lost my mother yesterday evening and am completely shattered by it. The rest of my family are on the other side of the country and I had been caring for her alone for the past seven years. I was not comfortable with her going out alone, but could not stop her from occasionally doing so. While I was at work, she went out and when parking her car back at home, collapsed and was found unconscious. When I got home from work, she was no where to be found and her car unattended. Only when calling around to hospitals did I find out what happened. I rushed to the hospital, but she died before I made it there. I don’t even know why I am writing this. I felt I was prepared for when she would pass on, but that is just not the case. That she collapsed alone and died without being able to say goodbye, that I did not just skip a day at a job I can’t stand anyway (I had suspicions she would go out…), I feel enveloped by guilt, grief and….everything feels so quiet and empty, as if the world has lost all proportions and balance. The worst moment was finding the bags she was trying to bring in and finding an Easter card. So far this has been the longest day of my life and there are more to come. I found your blog when looking for grief resources on the Internet. Really appreciated it. It means more than you may be aware. J.

    • Luise Volta April 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

      J – Of course you are shattered. There is no other possibility at this moment in time. And of course you have regrets. None of us have crystal balls and none of us live lives of perfection. There is always more we wish we had done and things we wish we had done differently. My son died like that 12 years ago at the age of 52. The only way I could console myself regarding not being able to say “goodbye” is that doing so would have meant that we both knew he was leaving and that fact would have carried suffering with it. He left without warning. Now, that I am 85, I think I would like to do the same thing. Hopefully in the middle of a task of some kind. The other side of that coin is what you are experienceing, the overt shock and unbearable loss of the one left behind. There is no way I know of around it. We all have to go through it.

      When I lost my own mom, I was unwilling to part with the relationship. In my grief, I started journaling my anguish which mushroomed into anger at times. Because I was unable to contain it, I wrote about it…tears streaming down my face…my writing illegible at times. What evolved was a miracle for me. My writing got quieter and more focused and I realized I was still sharing my life with her. Eventually, I started writing answers back from her. No, I didn’t think she was sending them to me…I knew I was initiating both sides of the conversation. However, I also knew what she would say to me. That was 57 years ago and I still do that sometimes.

      I know nothing of the afterlife and I think we make most of it up because we can’t live with the mystery. Or the finality of physical separation. I found a way around the finality. That’s my gift to you. Blessings, Luise

  31. D. February 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    My mom and my brother died January 17th when their car drove them off the dock next to the ferry at the end of their road. It drove them over a snow bank, off the pier, across the beach and across 250 meters of ice to the middle of the river where there was no more ice. The car fell into the water and the air bags, having been deployed when they hit the snow bank traped them in the car and they both drowned. It took two days for the police dive team to find them and two more to get them out. I feel like the best parts of me have also died. The joking funny happy parts that were a direct result of my relationship with my mom are gone and I am left with a nothingness that surrounds me so completely I can’t even describe it. To add insult to injury, not only do I have to deal with that but the loss of my brother (only 29!) sneaks up to kick me while I am down periodically. My mom and I were very close and spoke on the phone almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day. My brother and I weren’t as close as there was 7 years between us but I loved him very much and I am so sorry for all the things he will never get to do…have a wife, kids, his own home. My mom and dad and him all lived together. I know that they are still with me spiritually but I want them here physically so much it hurts. My soul feels shattered and I don’t know how to get past it. For right now, even memories of all our good times, hurt me. Rather than comfort me they remind me of what I have lost and I am stuck here in this place of hurt and saddness. How do I move on from this? I know she wouldn’t want me to suffer like this because I wouldn’t want my own kids to suffer like this if I passed on but I don’t know how to go on with my life. How does the world simply keep going when it has lost such great people? I no longer understand the world without her in it. D.

    • Luise Volta February 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

      That terrible accident happened less than a month ago. Of course you are in pain and confusion and disbelief. Please consider working closely with a grief counselor. It’s too much to try to address here or to attempt to get through on your own. My heart goes out to you. Blessings, Luise

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