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No funeral. It’s not real to me that mom is gone


kantor

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After sepsis in April and a long long slow decline isolated in the nursing home where she went for rehab and never went home, mom died in December at age 79. I brought her home with me for her last few weeks. I did everything i could to give her a good death and I believe she had one. Then suddenly she was just gone. No funeral. No gathering or memorial service of any type except for kind of a lame one with some of her family. I’m not grieving. We weren’t close but in her last months as I cleaned out her apartment and talked to family and friends about her, I discovered a lot about the reasons for our damaged relationship and the person she really was, and I came to forgive,  respect and love her and to see her more clearly, and to see her in me-in good ways. It was healing. But now I don’t have her and some part of me cannot understand it. I am just not grieving. I found a new lover a few weeks after she died and am applying to grad school. I am keeping busy and distracted. When my sister asked if I could pick up her ashes from the crematorium, I refused. Later I realized it’s because I’m just not facing that she’s gone. I guess I just really need those rituals. It’s complicated by Covid and the fact that my siblings all live in different states and that I joined a different religion than my mother’s decades ago. Some friends think I should create a ritual around retrieving her ashes, and not wait until September when my siblings and I plan to scatter them. Has anyone done this? Or have any ideas how to make it real for myself? I saw her body and held her hand after she passed but I was exhausted, and she had been barely responsive for days, so it just didn’t register. It was just surreal. I bought her a Christmas card a week later. I feel sad when I talk about it but have only cried once after seeing a funeral scene in a TV show. And I realized I need that ritual structure to help me. How can I get that in lockdown? I would love ideas. 

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9 hours ago, kantor said:

I’m just not facing that she’s gone. I guess I just really need those rituals.

It's never too late to honor someone you've loved and lost, and rituals serve that very purpose. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose to make them, and are limited only by your imagination. I invite you to read this article, including the related ones listed at the base: Grief Rituals Can Help on Valentine's Day (or Any Special Day) 

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I have a friend that lost her husband of over 50 years, almost 5 years ago, and she never has cried.  As long as you don't try to suppress it, please don't worry about it, there's nothing wrong with you, not everyone cries.  It sounds like her death brought some healing realizations with it.  

I am sorry for your loss.  I think Marty's suggestion is wonderful.  I also like this article...http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/02/parent-loss-continuing-their-song.html

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I appreciate both your replies.  I think for me it is not about not crying or needing to doing little rituals to ease the pain and loss.  It is the complete vacuum of normal communal mourning, which I apparently need because that is how things get into my subconscious- through action and activity, and the presence of others in a similar mode. Without that, I am not mourning or grieving at all.  I don't even have those OMG my mom is gone moments for more than a micro-second.  It is NOT getting in.  And I am afraid that it will swamp me at some point in the future. I know grief is something you have to ride but also something you need to tend to. But I cannot tend to something that isn't there.   Remember that moment when it hit you like a ton of bricks that that loved one is GONE? The moment that it got deep into your being and changed you somehow?  That has NOT happened for me.  I am not talking about grieving a right or wrong way. I am talking about NOT GETTING IT, so the process has not even begun, without that communal ritual and the finality of that-whether it be a viewing, helping scoop dirt onto her coffin, a family gathering to say goodbye and cry together.  None of that has happened and it won't for months.  I am hoping to connect with some people dealing with that...

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Grief is indeed a process, not a single event, and it takes place over time. It also changes over time, as we gradually become aware of all those secondary losses that accompany the death of a loved one. The fact that you are posting here is an indication that you are, in fact and to some extent, beginning the process of acknowledging and coming to terms with your mother's death. Even with the benefit of a traditional funeral and wake, it still takes time and effort to recognize and adjust to the reality of loss and its profound effects on our lives.

In the age of COVID-19, many funeral homes are offering alternatives to in-person funeral services. While these are not the same and may not provide all that you feel a need for right now, it may be worth your while to look into what may be available in your community.

Something to think about: Might you be using (not necessarily in a conscious way) the lack of a communal ritual as a way to delay dealing with (that is, protecting yourself from) the pain of your loss?

More suggested reading:

In Grief: Feeling Disconnected from Feeling Bad

In Grief: Using Denial to Cope with Loss

Tips for Coping with Denial in Grief

Finding Crying Time in Grief

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I've wondered about that question Marty. It may be, but it could also be the reverse- that without the ritual I cannot step into the process.  I have time and ease to grieve mom.  I am not afraid of the feelings.  I want them.  What I keep coming back to is- why do all cultures have communal mourning rituals?  I think most humans need that.  That is why we created those and keep doing them even if they change over time.  How are people who are denied those b/c of the pandemic working with their grief without the traditional ritual containers that allow us a known way to navigate those waters?

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I understand your point that traditional / "communal" mourning rituals have an important role to play in facilitating the grief process, and that they've existed and evolved since the dawn of time ~ but that is not to say that one cannot begin to do the work of grief without them. In the face of this pandemic, with all its restrictions on large gatherings and requirements for "social distancing," we have very little choice but to come up with our own workable alternatives. See Bereavement: Doing The Work of Grief   ❤️

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  • 1 year later...
13 hours ago, V. R. said:

Sheemie, I'm so sorry you're feeling so homesick, your story touched me. You hit a chord when you wrote those words above. I went through a long period, together with my darling husband, going backwards and forwards to my MIL's house (she lived alone,  20mins drive from us), caring  for her, cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, official paperwork, getting her to have a shower, she was suffering from dementia, did not cooperate and  had become very verbally aggressive. We wanted   her to  move in with us (lots of space in our 3 storey house), would have been so much easier, for her and for us. She utterly refused, we tried once and we found her walking out of the gate, saying that she would returnhome, on foot, if it was necessary!! We were forced to drive her back home. 

We didn't have time for ourselves at all, the stress was unbearable, especially for my husband. I could see he felt guilty that I was having to do all this for her, being female (she didn't have daughters), it was obviously less embarrassing for my MIL, and more  natural, for me to bathe and clean her,when she became no longer self-sufficient. I always tried to reassure him not to worry, these things happen. I'll never forget his desperate  words one day: "I can't handle this any longer, she's killing me..", referring to his mother. Imagine, how I feel now. 

I also find myself in an opposite situation to how I was before , watching the hours go by, days that never end, nothing in particular to do. I could find lots to do, if I wanted, but they are just things that can wait, not really necessary,and to tell you the truth, in my depressive state, I can't be bothered anyway. What's the point? Isn't it strange that we even find ourselves missing what we used to complain about? 

Sending you comfort and strength. 

God bless your heart for doing all that for your in laws. Another of times I felt unappreciated and especially when they try and walk home when u are bending over backwards to help. I can't tell you how many free rides I gave without a thanks. I felt like a chauffeur.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been to so many funeral that they became horrible to endure.  People would say, now if I can just get through the funeral, and I thought, then why have one?  When my husband died there was no funeral, on purpose. We had discussed it.  There wouldn't have been one even without Covid.  I understand that rituals can help, but they can also prove to be hard to endure.

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I feel the opposite...when my sister died, 3/28/22, the county took her in to a mortuary (family didn't get to choose so it cost more than twice as much as her husband did a year before).  My brother picked up her ashes and I have her husband's.  We wanted to scatter them at the local park (their choosing) but my other sister was getting ready to go to Europe in May so wanted to wait until she got back.  When she got back, she was too busy with coffee dates, etc. and decided she wanted to wait until her birthday in a year (one had already passed) in mid-April.  (Last year I had 4 ft. of snow then but she poo-pooed that when I told her.)  So we are waiting.  To me it showed disrespect to wait so long as if it is of no significance.  JMO  It's like it's taking back seat to all of HER plans!

And I don't see the honoring in this.

I get that different people have differing feelings about this.  But it seems everything is a social event to her and I'm not feeling good about this even though it's now several months away.  Polly and I were closest to Peggy, I helped take care of her, living here in town with her (she was disabled and had dementia) whereas Julie was someone who saw her on her birthday once a year.

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5 hours ago, kayc said:

I feel the opposite...when my sister died, 3/28/22, the county took her in to a mortuary (family didn't get to choose so it cost more than twice as much as her husband did a year before).  My brother picked up her ashes and I have her husband's.  We wanted to scatter them at the local park (their choosing) but my other sister was getting ready to go to Europe in May so wanted to wait until she got back.  When she got back, she was too busy with coffee dates, etc. and decided she wanted to wait until her birthday in a year (one had already passed) in mid-April.  (Last year I had 4 ft. of snow then but she poo-pooed that when I told her.)  So we are waiting.  To me it showed disrespect to wait so long as if it is of no significance.  JMO  It's like it's taking back seat to all of HER plans!

And I don't see the honoring in this.

I get that different people have differing feelings about this.  But it seems everything is a social event to her and I'm not feeling good about this even though it's now several months away.  Polly and I were closest to Peggy, I helped take care of her, living here in town with her (she was disabled and had dementia) whereas Julie was someone who saw her on her birthday once a year.

Maybe it's just too hard for her to deal with it.  Maybe it makes it too real for her.  I can see how not having a funeral when one is not allowed to could be very hard.  So many people died of Covid after going to funerals.  At the time of a death the bad family feelings can be front and center.

My husband's ashes are on the hearth beside my desk in a special urn.  I didn't realize they would be as heavy as they are.  When I die my nephew has agreed to mix our ashes and scatter them together over our pet cemetery on our property.  This is in honor of his wishes.

 

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No, it's not too hard for her.  We're just having private spreading of ashes, immediate family and one friend.  Bottom line is my sister is too busy having fun to take time out to do it.  It's my other sister and I that are hit hard and were close to her.

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4 hours ago, kayc said:

No, it's not too hard for her.  We're just having private spreading of ashes, immediate family and one friend.  Bottom line is my sister is too busy having fun to take time out to do it.  It's my other sister and I that are hit hard and were close to her.

Apparently she has a lack of soul connection.  That's sad.  I'm glad you decided to go ahead with the spreading of the ashes.  Where have you decided to do that?

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We aren't doing it until April...snow permitting.  At Greenwater's Park, off the bridge.  Peggy and Bert lived one block from there.  Mick has Peggy's ashes, I have Bert's.  It's Julie calling the shots.  Polly wants to be there but is blind and incontinent, so hopefully she can ride with Julie.  It'll be 13 months at least since Peggy died!  Yesterday has been two years since Bert died.  Peggy had wanted me to scatter Bert's ashes for her but I told her we want to all be there...then she died that week and we never got to.  It only makes sense to do both of theirs at the same time.

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