Question: Dear Luise: My mother, “81” died on my “48th” birthday, June 15, 2010. While she had suffered and survived many health crisis the last 4 or so years of her life, what happened in the past two or three months leading up to her death has left me shocked and wondering what happened. You see, I am an ONLY CHILD, my father died back in 1986 & I dealt with EVERYTHING regarding my Dad’s death in order to “protect” my mother from the pain, worrying that his death might take her health as well. And I did the work and she recovered and was good! I was so proud of her. When her health began to fail, I brought her to my home to live with me and was her one and only caregiver through it all. In May, she was diagnosed with a massive brain/sinus tumor – non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The surgeon, the best in the world, got it all! The tests all pointed to her making a “total recovery”, but after the craniotomy she kept going downhill. Not wanting to eat, sleeping a lot, I knew she wasn’t doing well, and I didn’t know how to help her. I tried. Then, she went into cardiac arrest and died. I am so lost without her! Besides my work, my mother was my focus in life. You see, we were the “best of friends” since my dad died. I didn’t even make time or find time to marry and have children. And now I’m left in this place, feeling very alone and wondering how to move on and what I’m moving on to. I get it all intellectually, but my feelings keep getting in my way. I am blessed with remarkable friends, but fear I will never know that “unconditional” love and support I was given and shown by my dear mother, Marie. Thanks for your time. P.
Answer: Dear P.: It’s only been a month; of course you are overwhelmed with grief. It will probably take a long time to get a sense of balance after such a loss. I don’t think there is any love like that of a mother. Most of us move on long before we lose our moms. You didn’t. There’s no way that isn’t going to make it a lot harder.
She was so lucky to have your support and care. I live in a retirement center and I see people in our campus nursing home that never even get a visitor. At the end of life, I know that would be terrible and your mother didn’t have to face that. You gave her a priceless gift.
Yes, experiencing such a loss if very different on the intellectual level. It is natural for life to end in the 80s. But the appropriateness of that doesn’t reach the emotions. Death is never held as appropriate. When my son died at age 52, the only thing that worked for me was to “talk” with him and find out what “he wanted” until I could find myself again. I wanted to reverse the movie of life and have him back. There was no way I could have it be how it was.
That was a decade ago. He “told” me (just thoughts that drifted in when I meditated and let them) that he wanted me to enjoy each day. He “told” me he was near. He “told” me to look around at the miracle of life and accept the reality of death and to write a gratitude list every day and to not waste what I had left. He “told” me to love him and remember him but to get past mourning for him when I could. I was all very real and it worked.
Talk with her. Blessings, Luise