Question: Dear Luise: I can’t cope with my Mother’s passing. She started getting sick in April after her last chemotherapy treatment and went downhill after that. She passed away August 12, 2009. Mom and I were very close, we did everything together, and I lived with her. I am 43 years old and feel like a lost little girl that is confused and in much, much pain. My sister died June 10, 1979, and my father died January 1, 1984. She was my whole life, and now, I have no one left in my family. I read somewhere on the Internet that I am deemed now as an “adult orphan” and that is exactly how it feels. I have to admit that we were co-dependent. The last month or so, I thought I was “coping” a bit better, and even called my job this last week to return to work, as I took my leave of absence on the very day that Mom passed. I have realized that I cannot go back to work yet. I cried all this weekend, dreading today, because it was supposed to be my day of going back to work, but I couldn’t do it. Is there something wrong with me? I have since realized that I need to continue aggressively with my grief counseling, which I stopped in October, because of money situations. I know that I need serious help with my loss, and the co-dependency that I had with my mother. I honestly feel that some days I just can’t make it, and other days, I just “exist.” It has been five months, and what scares me is that I realized that I couldn’t go back to work. My panic and anxiety has been at an all time high this weekend. I asked Mom to help me, and I asked God to help me. I am truly alone. I am divorced, and I don’t have a boyfriend or a mate. I have a sweet neighbor next door and another across the street but I am losing it. I am going back tomorrow morning to see a grievance counselor, and to seek help because I can’t handle this. I don’t know where I belong anymore, or where I need to be. This house, without mom isn’t a home anymore to me. Please help me with any advice and Thank you. F.
Answer: Dear F.: It is time to repair a misconception. Death isn’t unnatural. It isn’t an insult. It isn’t the end of anyone else’s life. To lose sight of the miracle of your own life by merging with another person is self-defeating. Your mother gave you life and you are throwing away her gift; dishonoring it. Why would you do that?
Do I sound heartless? If so, you need to know that my beloved hubby is 98. What do you suppose is right around the corner? Will I be devastated? Of course! Will the loss knock me silly? Certainly. Will my life be over? No way. Why not? Because I said so. Also, my son died when he was 52. Don’t tell me I “just don’t know.” I do.
By all means get back into therapy and move through your paralyzing self-pity. You are alive and well. Do something with that besides deliberately making yourself sick. Everyone who is born dies and everyone who loves must face loss. You can call yourself an “adult orphan” or you can call yourself as a “survivor;” your choice.
Your mother was human not immortal and so are you. Cherish your life. Let someone help you learn to help yourself to live again. That’s the best way I can think of to see that your mother rests in peace. Blessings, Luise