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


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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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