Question: Dear Luise: My mother passed recently, and I just can’t seem to move on. She was 79 years old and on hospice, and we knew it was coming. I was able to have a wonderful couple of hours with her the last time I saw her. I laid beside her, and she stroked my hair and kissed my head like she used to when I was a very small child (I’m 42 now). We talked, and she bravely tried to reassure me when I should have been the one comforting her! I am the “baby” of the family, and though I wasn’t spoiled she and I had an extremely close bond. I also received bad medical news recently of cancer. It’s advanced and I’ll fight it, but she has been so ill and I chose not to tell her. If there is anything beyond all of this, I hope she can forgive me. I have tears welling up at the drop of a hat when anything reminds me of her or I simply start thinking about her. Death is a part of life, I know that. And I’m certainly old enough to accept it. I’m a grown man and feel just weak because I’m not just dealing with it and putting it behind me. But I can’t just “put it behind me” like other things I’ve dealt with. Strangely, when Dad passed, I certainly grieved but not as much. There’s another source of guilt – why so badly for her and not as much for him? Don’t misunderstand, I miss him terribly and had a hard time, but time healed it and it was just not like this. I know you don’t have “the answer,” but I came across your blog and decided it can’t hurt to get whatever advice I can. M.
Answer: Dear M.: AlI can do is share with you what worked for me when I lost my Mom. We share some similarities, you and I. I was an adult, also the “baby” of the family and “knew” death was normal. That did not make it OK. And there was no putting it behind me.
I thrashed around for a while unable (and probably unwilling) to accept the resources available to me. I felt like it was a loss I simply couldn’t accommodate to. It was too massive and too final. Eventually, in desperation, I started writing to her about my feelings because I wasn’t able to contain them. I poured out my grief for months on end, as often as it overwhelmed me and I could safely be alone. Sometimes I raged, other times it was grief that knocked me over and then there were the writing sessions that were pure helplessness. I just poured out my emotions, sometimes writing my anguish in large script that was illegible at first because I was weeping. What happened was my writings started to change. Not right away, I was too overcome…but eventually I started sharing my daily thoughts and experiences with her and it became more of a kind of a “connection” for lack of a better word. This may sound weird or “woo-woo” but one day I wrote a response from her to me. No, I wasn’t hearing voices and it wasn’t automatic writing…I just knew what she would say. A healing finally came to me that way. This happened years some time ago but I still write her once in a while when the spirit moves me. Blessings, Luise