Question: Dear Luise: I lost my mother 6 years ago to ovarian cancer. She fought but it took her in just three years even though it was caught early. My mom was my best friend and she was one of those moms who was ever so devoted to me and my brother. My dad used to tease her that she never cut the cord. My biggest problem is that I don’t know how to get over her death. When she was sick her sister and my step-sister took over her care and isolated her from everyone including me. I barely saw her and when I did they would supervise my visits and tell me what to say and what not to say. Them telling me as if she wasn’t closest to me and was never afraid to tell me no or when she didn’t like something. My step-sister and my mom never really got along and my mom was not a timid person but with her sister and step- daughter she was afraid to speak out. I promised my mom I would be there at the end to hold her hand and they made sure I wasn’t and made it hell for me and my mom. So now after her death they were telling me and everyone else that my mom was sick of me and was the one who didn’t want me there and it has devastated me to think my mom may have thought that. I just don’t know what to think or feel anymore and I don’t know how to get over it.
Answer: Dear L.: I would like to suggest something you may think is really off the wall but it’s all I have to recommend because it worked for me when I lost my mom at age 26. You may be willing to try it. I hope so because the havoc your aunt and step-sister created is something you can’t redo, as you know.
They took over and you were helpless to do anything about it. They can make up anything after the fact and who can prove they’re lying? No one. Six years of suffering their abuse have left you questioning your relationship with your mom, which is what they want. You can’t stop their end of it…but you can stop yours.
You know the truth…all of the she-said-that-she-said that- she-said is never going to change the truth. You know the truth!
Here’s what I did…I started writing to my mom. I just could not/would not break the connection from my end. At first it was mostly grief and despair…guilt and hopelessness. Sometimes it was anger and fear. I often got so upset when I was writing that it wasn’t even readable. I was totally unable to cope with my loss. I just kept pouring it out to her in letter form and keeping the process to myself.
What eventually happened was that without realizing it, I started to tell her what was going on with me, like I always had…sharing my experiences, hopes and dreams. It just slowly started to change and I got so that I looked forward to our daily “talks.” Eventually, she started answering me. No, not really. Her letters started out “Dear Weezie,” and ended, “I have always loved you and I always will, Mom”…but it wasn’t woo-woo stuff like automatic writing or a voice that spoke to me from the Great Beyond. I just knew what she would say and I wrote it. That was 60 years ago and I still write her sometimes.
If you talk to ten people about death, you will get ten different concepts of death and the possibly of an afterlife, if they believe there is one. Books have even been written about people who had cardiac arrest and died but were then brought back because their hearts were restarted. In spite of that, we still have to come up with our own knowing or not knowing, personally.
You have paid a terrible price for six years because two people have delighted in breaking your heart and convincing others that you deserve it. Sometimes we can get stuck in being the victim of the viciousness of others and feel we can’t let it go until the record is set straight. In many cases, it can’t be. It’s here-say.
It’s up to you whether you want to continue to give them that power. I see it as strictly between you and your mom. That’s my take…and I would bet that she has” always loved you and always will.” Blessings, Luise