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Lost My Mom


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Ive come to this site to find some people who can relate to me because you feel so alone when you loose someone so close. Im 19, and I lost my mom to suicide last september (2006) She was always depressed, but who doesnt have depression these days? Some days were better then others and sometimes she talked of suicide. My parents divorced when I was very young and we always lived with my Mom. I never got along with her because I am a positve person and she was always negative, we never had a good relationship. I have a brother, 16 and a sister, 13 who were her favorites and she treated them like angels. My self esteem went down because of her, and she always told me she hated me. I am a good student with good grades, I go to college, and in highschool I stayed out of trouble and worked a part time job. I bought my own car, payed my own bills but I was always a bad child in her eyes. Now that she has passed away I still am fighting all this inner anger and resentment towards her. I want to forgive her and love her, because many people blamed her illness for her actions, but it is so hard to try and erase all the bad memories. Im hoping that someone can give me advice or support because none of my friends can relate and they dont know what to say which leaves me feeling extremely alone.

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This is the first time I have replied to a post but your story tore my heart out. I lost my mom Oct 2006. There are some key similarities in our stories despite our age differences. I am 61 and for two years was mom's sole caregiver 24/7 until she died at age 89. My parents divorced when I was eight and mom raised my brother and me completely on her own. She was a very serious, secretive person and hid her feelings. She was melancholy and in the early years I suspected suicidal. She also was a negative person and to this day I have to fight slipping into such learned behavior even though in a happier environment I would have been a very positive person. I felt it was in me. She swallowed her anger so well that she got stomach cancer. She was a "by the book" mom who never showed favoritism. But I always knew my brother was her darling. I was academically and professionally very successful, while he joined a cult, was cruel to her, was a failure at life. Yet in her dimentia in her last year, she would call out for my brother in her sleep, and when awake often called me by his name, even though I was the one always there for her. Like you, I have also tried to find an explanation for mom's feelings and still cannot accept that I will never know why. All her secrets died with her and it makes me feel so unfinished. I feel awful that I didn't tell her enough that I loved her, even though she would have gagged if she had ever tried to say it to me. In the final hours I should have asked her forgiveness for being such a disappointment to her and I didn't even think to do it until it was too late. I idolized my mom and thought she was perfection so I can't even allow myself to consider forgiving her. I'm sure that isn't healthy. Like you, my self-esteem is low. The emotional damage from my family life never affected my professional performance, perhaps it was what drove me to excel. But it definitely screwed up my personal life. I made such self-destructive choices, had three failed marriages and wasted my best years. Now I feel like damaged goods and too worn out and old to start over professionally, but I must--to support myself. You have made such a great strong start in your life and it is all in front of you. It is too late for me to go back and fix my mistakes, but perhaps you can learn from mine. Trust your gut, your instincts, your inner voice. Finish your education. There is no substitute, I promise you. Think long term about your money. When I had it I was extravagant, thought I would be young forever, thought I was invincible. If only Suze Orman had been around when I could have benefited from her wisdom--she is an inspiring life coach.Try to read all her past books, not just the new ones, watch her Sat night tv show. If you arm yourself with education and your own financial security you will be better protected from making needy decisions romantically. You are vulnerable to trying to create the family life you never had. I tried twice to marry the father I never had--I only realized it many years later. I have no expectation of getting past the bad memories, if anything, they have pushed away any good memories there might have been. When I start to think it is getting better, I ask myself, "so why can't I sleep at night?" Your youth is a gift that will carry you through. Treasure your health and nurture it for the long haul. You are very mature and wise for 19 and I applaud you.

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It's really interesting that both of your stories are so similar to mine. I had a lot of loss and trauma (including my sister and my dad) before I was even ten. I was left with my mother and a disabled sister twelve years my senior. I became the peacemaker and the "good" girl. My mother was dependent on my for the rest of her life and became more and more paranoid. She would believe that people were talking about her and judging her. In the few years before her death, this became extremely heightened and she would call up people (like my in-laws) and tell them off for imagined hurts. It was very difficult for me to deal with.

All through my childhood my mother would get mad at me for trivial things and stop speaking to me. I could tell the kind of mood she was in before I even got into the house.

In an effort to become independent I made a lot of bad choices in my life and I suffer from depression and a lot of negative thinking.

My reccomendation to you is to get some therapy. You have to get the negative feelings behind you so that you can really be yourself. You will need to be yourself and on your own side in the coming years. If you don't start now, it will keep coming up to bite you at different points in your life. You owe this to yourself. Whenever there's a suicide, the survivors struggle with feelings of guilt. In your teens, it's natural to have a "battle of wills" going with your mother - it's just part of the seperation process. Had your mother lived, this would have changed. I saw this with my own daughter. We had lots of emotional scenes and lots of negative things were said when she was a teenager. She (as all daughters do) blamed me for her problems. Now she is almost thirty and we are very close and best friends. There's a good chance that this would have happened with you also. She left you at a difficult time, because now you are stuck with memories of the "bad" things. I can honestly tell you that I can't remember a single one of those fights with my daughter - they're water under the bridge and they are for your mother too - it doesn't matter what side of the veil she's on.

Despite my mother's problems I know that she loved me very very much. I know that this is true of your mother too. Don't let the fact that she had an illness take that knowledge away from you. Take it from a mother - we're just built that way. Unfortunately, with mental illness often behavior is the symptom. You can and will prevail in this and it will make you a deeper more compassionate human being. It did for me. Love and Mother kisses! moon

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Dear Ones,

I am stunned by the messages posted in this thread, as I think your experiences describe so vividly the longlasting effects of untreated mental illness in a family, and how the actions of very ill parents can lead to complicated grief reactions in their children after they die.

I am particularly impressed with Moon’s response, as I find myself thinking along the very same lines as she. I would encourage both acasey06 and gitane to consider getting into counseling, because it is never too late to do the work of mourning. When the unfinished business of loss is getting in the way of living your life, it is always wise to pay it the attention it demands, and if necessary, to seek outside, professional help in doing so.

Earlier this morning I was reading an article in the Winter 2007 issue of the Wings Newsletter entitled Feeling the Agony of Sibling Death: My Story, by Diana Papilli. Describing how she eventually came to terms with the violent murder of her brother twenty years before, Diana writes,

. . . I followed some early advice. I allowed myself to feel all of my feelings: anger, hatred, revenge, sorrow, pity, disgust, grief, regret, resentment and others. However, I did not wallow in them; not for long, anyway. I let them be and then let them pass . . . I [also] used the services of a professional counselor. I did not seek him initially for my grief, yet all of my experiences came into those sessions with me. My grief helped shape both the things inside me I wanted to keep and wanted to release. A detached but compassionate counselor can go a long way in helping overcome the most difficult of obstacles. Grief support groups offer similar benefit. Many years have passed and I sometimes have to revisit those feelings. I do not treat them as evil robbers at my threshold. Instead, I treat them as necessary assistants, showing me where I need to work next. Living a decent, joyous life despite John’s murder is the best tribute I can give to my brother. He wouldn’t want anything less.

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Marty, Thanks for your wise post. I think my biggest problem is that the early trauma/dysfunction set me up so well for codependency that I don't even know a life before. I don't know how you can go back and regain a personality that never formed. I often wonder "who I would be..." Not that I'm not an "okay" person and I guess I'm doing amazingly well, considering, but I do feel "ripped off". Thanks, moon

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Thank you all for your stories, as sad as they are and as much as I can sympathize, it feels good to be able to relate to someone. I get so bitter now when I hear my friends complain of a petty fight they have with their parents and how much they "hate" them. I feel like giving them a reality smack because I always envied the relationships they had/have. Gitane, I enjoyed listening to you because I really related when you said that your mothers negativity pushed you to be professionally succesful. My mom was so depressed that she worked a part time job, WITH THREE KIDS, at a retail store. I worked more hours then her! Thankfully my dad payed child support and we were able to live normally, but we were not as "comfortable" financially as I would want. Seeing my mom sleep all day untill 5 in the afternoon everyday because she was too depressed to get herself out of bed, and when she would she would go to her 4 hour shift a night job enraged me. This is also why we didnt get along, I thought she lacked responsibilty and was extremely lazy and took advantage of the child support my father sent. What would she do if he never sent the money? I always promised myself I would never have to rely on another person finacially, and have pushed myself academically to ensure that I keep that promise to myself. Also I have extreme money anxiety and save every penny. Its very hard to forget all the bad times, even though there were some good. Also Gitane I dont know why you needed forgiveness from your mother, you sound like you did everything you could for her and you should not feel guilty for her depression.

Moon, I am sorry for your losses but as much as you may be depressed and feel guilt I cannot tell you how strong you are to have dealt with all of that in your life. I think one of the best compliments you can give someone is to tell them they are strong. I hope and look forward to talking to you all more.

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