O Mother, Where Art Thou?

O Mother, Where Art Thou?
Oh Mother, Where Art Thou?

Definition: MOTHER. Noun. Woman who gave us birth after pregnancy; Woman who cared for, fed and educated us in life; Woman who cared for, guided, mentored, listened, was always present to us; Woman who loves us unconditionally. All parts of the definition may apply to one woman, or many. Synonyms - Mom, Mama, Mommy, Ma, possibly other endearing terms.

Death is only one way to lose Mom. It’s devastating if you were close. It’s hard if you weren’t. It’s different at different ages. Oddly, whether you are two or 62 when Mother dies, you feel like an orphan. For adult women and men, there is that moment you realize that you are now the “head” of the family. You are next. It’s life changing in this, and so many other, ways.

If you’re lucky, Ma was a good friend. It’s awfully hard to lose a friend you’ve known all your life. For weeks after her death you’ll pick up the phone to call her. You’ll fall apart when her catalog order comes in the mail. You’ll be lost for words, and lost in grief, when someone asks for her.

Probably, you were Ma’s caretaker near the end. Her death brings waves of guilt. Did I do enough? There was so much I could have done better. Was she disappointed in me? Was I patient, compassionate enough?

Maybe you lived far away, and beat yourself up for the amount of time you spent with her in her last years. The Shoulda Woulda Coulda list will haunt you terribly for a while.

If you lost your Mother at a young age (anything under 21), you need to re-visit it, get new counseling for it, as an adult. Youthful perceptions, and anger, must be viewed through adult eyes for complete healing and grief resolution. Not to do so can stunt your emotional growth, affect relationships, and wreak havoc with your own parenting.

You may have lost your Mother when the abuse started. Whether she abused you, or herself, the family dynamics changed. Your development didn’t take a standard path. Life was very confusing. Definitions of love and family got skewered. Whether or not you got professional help in this, Mom’s death will cause quite a conundrum. Why do you feel so bad to lose a bad relationship? The answer is delayed grief. The counseling helped you develop self identity and coping skills. You built a protective emotional wall out of necessity. But with Mom physically out of the picture, your self conscious signals that it’s ‘safe’ to face all the junk. You finally grieve the mother you never had, the dreams of childhood that died long ago. There’s a bit of feeling sorry for yourself, and no one would blame you. Your feelings are valid, and must be vented and dealt with. Trying to do this alone is DANGEROUS. Talk, talk, talk. Heal. Grow. Live. Love.

Perhaps you were blessed to be adopted. Unresolved grief can make the relationship between your mother and you a little itchy. Even normal growing pains can take on an ugly dimension if the adoption is seen as the cause, or used as ammo against those that chose you to love. In recent years, adoption has no longer been treated as a deep family secret. Discussions are open. Counselors are more attuned to the myriad facets of your situation. In open adoptions, occasional contact with the birth mother may be made. All of this is by far the healthier way to do it, but still not without its potholes. If you see adoption as a unique and wonderful part of your story, bless you. Honor the people who brought you home. Honor the bravery of your birth mother. If you are NOT thrilled about being adopted, you lose precious, precious time being negative. Find out what’s sticking in your craw, and get it removed. Life is too short. The death of either mother will be difficult. But if these issues are not resolved in life, they get worse after a death.

It is a usual part of life for anyone to have a falling out with a mother. Letting it go on too long is where things get tricky. Are there toxic relationships that should be avoided? Yes. But if you’re not speaking to Mom because your sister got something you didn’t, or because she lied about what really happened to your cat, the onus is yours. Grow up and get over it. Talk, talk, talk to your mother. Hear – and understand – her side. Forgive. Ask forgiveness for your part in it. Discuss how the relationship can be rebuilt. Speak openly, but kindly. Screaming and yelling is totally unproductive.

Life carries enough pain. Hauling extra around unnecessarily is wrong.

As with all grieving, a very strong recommendation is made to find others who have experienced the same kind of loss. You have to have reassurance that you are not crazy. You are grieving. It’s normal to fantasize one last visit, where all hurts are cured and one last goodbye is said. A bit of news – TV isn’t real. Much better to do the work on this side of life, with fewer regrets at the end. Then all concerned can experience


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