My Mom’s Sudden Death Has Devastated Me

Question: Dear Luise: I lost my mom Oct 17th, 2006. She was not sick or anything. She just went to sleep and woke up in heaven. I am devastated. My mom and I were very close. We had just relocated to SC from MD and had been here for a week when this happened. I wonder was the move too much for her? I was in Chicago at the time for work and she did not show in the morning to help my husband with my 9 yr old for school. She was 68. I feel lost and alone. I have moved 3 states from all my friends. I am having such a very difficult time dealing with this. My dad died when I was 22 to cancer and the pain I had then was different since I had a warning. I feel she was ripped away from me though. I have 1 brother but he and I are very distant. In fact the funeral was the first time I had seen him in almost 2 yrs. I am still dealing with cleaning out her apartment and all. We were here a week and she had the whole apartment entirely unboxed and she was ready to start working again she said. I do not know how to deal with this now…it does not make sense to me. I did not get to say goodbye or tell her I love her one last time. How do I deal? Debbie

Answer: Dear Debbie: My heart goes out to you. My son died that way when he was fifty-two years old. He had a great day, went to bed that night and never woke up. Not ill. He wasn’t even seeing a doctor. I can only tell you what I learned from my own experience and hope that there is something in it for you.

Very, very soon after his death I gave up trying to make any sense of it. It didn’t do any good to ask why I hadn’t been taken. I was much older and ready. Whatever the reasons are, we aren’t going to understand them on this side.

I, too, wished I could have known he was leaving and yet I also realized that what was so terribly hard for me, his wife, his sons and his granddaughter, was very easy for him. Since you lost your Dad to a horrible disease, you know that when we get a chance to get used to a person’s imminent death, they usually have to go through Hell. I didn’t want that for my son and I know you didn’t want it for your Mom.

I have no idea what your belief system is…mine allows for communication. I did that by writing to Dwight, fairly regularly at first. I poured out my heart to him and then I wrote answers back to me from him…from his heart, which I knew well.

Your Mom hasn’t been gone a month yet. Let yourself feel it all. Feel the grief and the guilt and the seemingly unending loneliness. It will lift. I promise you. Blessings, Luise

13 Responses to My Mom’s Sudden Death Has Devastated Me

  1. bobby chavez January 22, 2007 at 11:39 pm #

    For those we love. We should know that some day it will come to us. A self of tears a wall full of memories a head full of laughter. As tears flood our faces we hurt, but we do not make the hurtful decisions. God makes these unknowing times for us to learn and share, but the one you loose knows you love and care.

  2. Ann January 8, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    I too lost my mother recently, on December 20, from sudden cardiac death. I was there with her. She just got dizzy, sat back in her chair and began breathing very hard. I leaned her back in her chair to make it easier for her to breathe and told her to keep breathing and come on back. She had recently changed her seizure medication and I thought at first that she was about to have a seizure. I realized quickly that her breaths were too far apart. I called 911, and her breathing stopped altogether. They told me to get her on the floor and walked me through doing CPR. I did the best I could, and the ambulance was there very quickly, then they rushed her to the hospital and did everything they could, but she never came back. I keep re-living this over and over again, thinking I should’ve known something or done something differently. She was my best friend and I miss her so. I understand what you’re going through. How do you get through the guilt and grief?

  3. Luise January 9, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Dear Ann; The answer is probably time and sharing with others. There probably is no perfect-parting. Who is ever going to be able to say she did everything right and has no regrets? Your Mom wasn’t alone, and you weren’t estranged…two things to be eternally grateful for. I still miss my Mom and she has undoubtedly been gone longer than you have been alive. Acceptance comes and peace with it. Blessings, Luise

  4. M. August 19, 2008 at 12:32 pm #

    For Everyone,
    Less than 2 weeks ago, I lost my mother to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
    There were no signals or warning signs.
    She was ripped from our lives as I stood there with my wife, helpless against it’s power.
    Unlike some of the people that email you,I feel no guilt because I was a great son and I took care of her eventhough she did not need it.
    There wasn’t a day that went by that I either went upstairs to see her or I just waved hello.
    We were very close.
    Yes, I have heard all the stories of how lucky she was that there was no suffering but I am having a great amount of difficulty dealing with the fact that I will never see her again in this life.
    I want to believe that there is an afterlife and when it’s my time, I will be reunited with her and other passed family members.
    The pain is sometimes so hard to bare but I know in my heart that she would not want this for us.
    This is what has given me strength by doing the little things that she would nag me about but I wouldn’t do.
    I guess the old saying of “Better late than never” applies here.
    I know it is so hard to do but all of you need to start to live your life the way your passed parents would want you to.
    This to me is the ultimate tribute you can pay them and it will help you out of this terrible time in your life. M.

  5. Luise August 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm #

    Dear M. That’s the way my oldest son went at age 52. No warning. It is terribly hard to accept and adjust to.
    What wonderful advice, to keep on keepin’ on as they would have wished. I’m happy that there is no guilt attached to your “Better late than never” tasks. What a lovely relationship to cherish and remember. Blessings, Luise

  6. A. May 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Hi everyone, I lost my mama on Jan. 8th of this year and let me tell you, as a 23 yr old woman this has been the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me. I have no regrets and talked to my mom an hour or 2 before she passed. I told her I loved her and she told me “god bless you be safe” her favorite way to end our daily phone call. My mother had asthma and her lungs just shut down on her. I can’t stop thinking about her which I know is normal but I can’t sleep. I’m scared to be alone in the dark I’m scared to even sleep sometimes. I know how much she loved me and I’m scared for her to see me in pain. I believe in the higher power and pray several times a day but nothings working for me. I can’t take the pain. I can’t work, eat, exercise, I really can’t do anything but sit on the couch and stare at the tv. Please someone help. A.

  7. B. June 26, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Hi Luise

    I live in South Africa. This year 10 April changed mine and my familys life forever. My 68 year old father was gunned down in a carjacking two minutes from his home in a safe suburb on a seemingly peaceful Sunday at lunchtime. My sister lives in Canada as she emigrated due to crime but she never dreamed she would get that phone call. My mother lost her mother when she was two and never really dealt with that loss. She is filled with anger and bitterness which I feel is sometimes direcTed at me. I hate that as this is the most difficult thing I have ever had and I also never got to say goodbye to my only dad! Also my kids are now in therapy because they were with us when we got call and have to know their cherished grandfather was shot in the heart! I am battling to reconcile an afterlife or divine plan after such an evil violent death, please try help us understand what is going on? B.

    • Luise June 26, 2011 at 8:49 am #

      Please get a copy of “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” by Kushman. That has helped me with the same question in my own life. I’m so sorry you are all having to face and deal with such tragedy. Making sense of it is useless. It makes no sense. Blessings, Luise

  8. M. June 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm #


    I just found your website. My mother passed away unexpectedly of what we’re told was cardiac arrest, in early May. This was only less than 2 months after my father passed after a terminal illness (some info omitted for privacy).

    I was at my mom’s when she passed, but had left the room, all seemed fine – though hindsight shows she wasn’t really feeling well and maybe I should have pushed harder for her to go to hospital – and she didn’t want to go for what I thought earlier in day for maybe arthritis pain in back.

    I heard a noise and found her in the next room lieing on the floor. Having gone through my dad’s death – me and her and other family were at his bedside when he passed in hospital – I didn’t have a good feeling about her prognosis. A 911 call, cpr by me at their instruction and many minutes of paramedics etc working on her and it was unsuccessful.

    They say she was probably gone by the time she hit the floor.

    Tonight I cried after leaving a store me and her used to go to often. I miss her so much. I am 30 something and I miss my mother so so much. I loved her. I was her only son and tried so hard to help her. I am crying something terrible as I type this. I miss being able to talke to her. I am trying to have faith, but it is very hard (repeating ) not having her here. I can’t believe it fully. I want to wake up – like I said the night she passed – and this to be a nightmare. I am going through some counselling, but this is to tough. I feel like my heart has been ripped out. Ironically, this has superceded my grief for my dad who passed as I said earlier less than 2 months before mom.

    Wow, 1 year has seen me lose 2 parents, and 2 other family relatives of my parent’s generation. I hope mom is without pain, and I hope to get to see her again. I feel this is like I’ve been robbed. It completely blindsided us…. oh thank you for letting me type. please pray for me. I’m glad mom probably didn’t suffer, but I miss her. I love you mom. M.

    • Luise Volta June 13, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      M – What a lovely tribute to your mom and I know that you enriched her life. We all dream of caring sons but it often doesn’t happen. What I did when I lost my mom, and this is weird I know, is I wrote to her. At first it was through tears and angst but eventually, I started just sharing my day with her that way. One day, I wrote an answer back to me from her. No, I didn’t hear voices and knew it wasn’t automatic writing…I was aware I was doing it. However, I knew what she would say to me. I was 27 at the time. That was 58 yearss ago. I still write her now and then and she still “responds.” Blessings, Luise

      • S. June 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

        I am sorry for your lost but I also had a lost I didn’t even know it. I call it my twilight zone moment. My son resently told me that I was/am passive agressive, selfish, he did not trust me and rambled of things that happen in the past. He is 37 years old. He is married has two children, he also told me I will never see them again. I don’t know what happen we were the best of friends. I was a single parent, I did the best that any mother could of done. I respected him, I did not yelled at him, did not hit him, I was always there for him at least I thought I was. Supported him. The things that seem to appear to traumatized him, Made no sense, at least not to me. He has not lived with me since he was 18 years he went to college, got married and has been on his own since then. For this to come out now has broken my heart. I can’t talk to him he attacks me about my life, everything bothers him about me. I am very successful and doing well for my self.
        I miss my son, the boy, the young man. I remember we shared many wonderful moments, My friends are in shock of his reaction, they say it is his wife, no one changes one unless they want to. reading your letter has help me. I ‘ve been robbed too. and I am griefing. it’s a great idea to write, to write to him and say I am sorry, for failing him and I miss him so much and my grandson. Is it a different pain, not to me, my prayers for you. S.

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