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When a mother dies

Mom and Dad's hands 2014
Mom and Dad's hands 2014
Agnes Bedard

Moms, Mothers, Mommy, or Ma are the first people in our lives to be there for us. They are our first playmates, the first to hear the sound of the words we have achieved to say, the first to ease your pain, the first to tell you you’re fine the way you are and the first person who loves you. Unconditionally. We can’t even fathom the depth of a mother’s love until we are parents ourselves. In every sense of the word, your mother is in the biggest part of your life. So what do you do when that sense of safety, when that love that has no bounds ends and your very first friend leaves you forever when they die? How do you handle the grief when your mom dies?

There are thousands of articles and books dealing with grief and how to manage it. When it comes to grief and your heartache, it good to remember it’s normal to
1. Get mad: Getting mad at your loved one is perfectly normal. If you want to shout to the sky why this happen or how could you leave me, get it out, say it, and put a name to it. It’s your grief, it’s your anger and that’s okay.
2. Do you feel overprotective of your loved ones right now? Do you need to know where everyone is and what they’re doing? NORMAL. You need to feel like you’re in control of something.
3. So family, give us some room to control what we can control, Just for a little while.
4. Are you having a hard time getting anything done? Are you scattered in your thoughts and can’t seem to figure out to how to get started on your life now that everything has changed? NORMAL. Life isn’t the same. You have a new normal which is very abnormal right now.
5. Do you have regrets? When it comes to the mother daughter relationship, there will be so many regrets or things you may want to change, but you will come to the realization that you can’t change it now. You can change, though how you treat those you love who are still here with you.

When it comes to losing your mother, yes, you will feel an emptiness. You will go on and yes, you will feel the loss. You will have memories that will lift you. The pain of losing a mother is different, that’s for sure. If you haven’t lost your mother, you won’t fully understand the depths of grief one goes through. After the funeral you may think things will go back to normal. WRONG. Normal isn’t normal anymore. Don’t think that everyone grieves the same way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there's no set time limit for it to happen. The old saying "Time heals all wounds" is not entirely true, but it’s not entirely a lie either. I don't know if the wound of losing a mother is ever "healed". The pain does get more bearable over time. But it does take time.

Above all, give yourself time. My mom just died. On August 7th, Catherine Farrell Lawless passed after a battle with heart disease and diabetes. I knew mom’s time was near. Not everyone in the family was at that point though and it was heart breaking. I remember the scene in Terms of Endearment when Shirley MacLaine’s character loses her daughter, Debra Winger, after battling cancer. MacLaine’s character starts to cry and said something like “I thought it would be easier after she finally passed. But it’s not, it’s not.” That’s what it is like now. We wanted Mom out of pain and yes, she is free of it, but now she has left us behind. It really isn’t easy.

Our family now is learning how to go on without our matriarch. There is a wedding planned in the near future, babies who will not know the love of their great grandmother, and our family will have holidays in a different home. Mom, MomMom, Wife and Sister has left us but she left behind for us the memories of unconditional love. There isn’t a better legacy.