Question: Dear Luise: My mother died 13 days ago because of liver cancer. She was only 59. I am totally destroyed. I have never had real friends and my father has always been source of trouble. She was my mum, my dad, my best friend.My only aim in life was to make her happy and now I have no aim at all. There is nothing that can make me feel better. She lost her mother when she was 26 (it is also my age), she suffered a lot her death and she never talked about her. I do not know anything about my grandma. We used to be very poor and she has done different works to make ends meet. My father is an alcoholist and has always made he life difficult. When I finally got a good job and could buy to her all those things she never had, cancer takes her away. I used to let her choose my clothes and everything in my house (she lived with me). She believed in God and me to but know I do not now if God is there. If He is, He really hates us. I miss my mum so much. I feel sorry for the life she had and how much she suffered because of the disease. I feel that I will never be happy again and everytime something good will happen (although I do not think so), I will always wish my mum to be with me but she won’t and I will be sad again. What should I do? M.
Answer: Dear M.: You are feeling the only way most of us can just two weeks after losing someone near and dear. We all know, intellectually, that life is temporary and death and loss are certain. That’s not usually where the problem lies. The problem lies in our emotions. We need emotions to be human and yet they can still be pretty hard to work through sometimes. You knew your mother wouldn’t live forever. You know you won’t either but the empty place where she was in your life is all you can see right now. It has to be that way. We have to face it to get through it. You don’t know that you will never be happy again without her. That’s how it is now and so you see the future that way. None of us can know what’s ahead, good or bad. We only know that both happy and sad are guaranteed to be part of it.
I lost my own mom when I was your age. I wasn’t able to see how blessed I was to have had her from birth until my own marriage and motherhood. All I could see was that a world without her was breaking my heart. What I did, and I have to admit it was out of desperation, was to write about my despair. At first it was just a form of journaling…but it soon evolved into a sense that I was writing to her. I told her how I felt because somehow it seemed like it still mattered to her. I wrote about my sense of hopelessness and how empty life was without her and how hurt and angry I was that she had been taken from me. I wanted to give her a better life and at the same time I still felt dependent on her in some way. Like all of us, I had never known life without her and it seemed like there just couldn’t be one I would value. I raged on paper and I wept…I poured it all out because I just couldn’t hold it in. I apologized for being so unable to cope and then I ranted some more. I knew I was talking to myself not my mother but that changed and I started to get the feeling that she heard me and eventually I got a sense we were connected when I wrote “to” her.
What came out of all of that for me was that I started writing answers back to me from my mother. I knew I was the one who was writing them but I also knew what she would say to me, if she could. I finally dawned on me that I probably didn’t know any more about life and death than the next person, and may have simply opened up a door between the two in my anguish.
That was fifty years ago. I still write to her sometimes…and she still answers. I have no idea if this will help you or not. It sure saved me. Blessings, Luise