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I Lost My Everything

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I am now 20, going to be 21 in October, and I lost my mother the day after my 18th birthday. Meaning in just a few short months, it is going to be three years since my mom has died, and to me it sometimes feels like it was just yesterday.

My mom and I were extrememly close throughout the 18 years I had her in my life. She was my best friend, she knew everything about me, besides the most important thing there was for a mother to know about her child. That her daughter was being abused by the man she married. I kept that a secret for 7 years of my life, and it finally came out in my Junior year of HS through a poem. When I told her I could just see the hurt in her eyes, and it was just 6 short mnths later when she passed away.

She passed away without giving me a chance to say goodbye to her, and without being given the chance to say I love you. Give her a hug and akiss goodbye. What I got for one of my last conversations was me saying, thats okay, I hope you die, but you just have to wait until after my 18th bday. Those words haunt me everyday, b/c she did infact wait, she died the day after my 18th bday. I would give anything to take those words away, but I know that is impossible.

TO this day it still hurts ever so much to think of my mom. and there are times inwhich I reach for the phone to call her to talk to her, but then to be hit with the reality of life. People in my life tell me 3 years is long enough to get over the pain and grieving of loosing someone, but I am far from 'getting over it'. How do you go on when the only person who resembled love in your life, the only person who made life worth living dies???

Not only did I loose my mom that day, I lost myself, still trying to find it.

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My dear LaNiNi,

Once again I’m saddened to learn that yet another griever is being admonished for not doing her grief properly, according to someone else’s arbitrary standard or artificial timetable. There is no timetable for grief. Losing your mother is not something you will ever “get over,” whether it’s been three years or 63 years since she died! This loss is something you learn to live with, to endure, to get through rather than over, as you incorporate it into every aspect of your being.

As you’ve already discovered, while the intense pain of the freshest grief diminishes gradually over a very long period of time, you are never really finished with loss when someone significant leaves you. This loss of your mother will resurface during key developmental periods for the rest of your life. You will have to face it again and again, not as the person you are today, but as the person you will have grown to be in two or five or 20 years from now. Each time you will face it on new terms, but it won’t take as long and it won’t be as difficult.

That said, I am wondering what if any help you’ve received in the last three years, not only with losing your mother, but also for the trauma you experienced as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I don’t know where you are with that, but my hope is that you’ve been able to get the help you need and deserve. Such trauma can complicate and even delay the grief work you need to do, which is why the issue of sexual abuse should be addressed first. There is a great deal of help available for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse; here are just a few resources that I hope you already know about:

VOICES in Action (Victims of Incest Can Emerge Survivors)

ASCA (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse)

Abuse Survivor Support

You say that your mother died without giving you a chance to say all the things you wish you could have said. You also say that you lost yourself the day your mother died, and you’re “still trying to find it.” I’ve written elsewhere that grief produces all kinds of conflicting feelings, most commonly those of anger and guilt -- which over time can become quite distorted, unless we share them with someone else (a trusted friend, a relative, a clergy person, fellow grievers in a support group, a grief counselor).

Feelings exposed to the light of day can be acknowledged, examined, evaluated, worked through and resolved. Feelings that are stuffed just sit there and fester, making us feel miserable, crazy, sick and alone. You may have heard that "time will heal all wounds" but I'm sure you've learned by now that the passage of time doesn't do anything to heal your grief – time is neutral. It's what you do with the time that matters.

Grieving successfully requires the hard work of confronting, expressing and working through the pain of your loss. The good news is that it is never too late to do the work of grieving. That's because unresolved grief doesn't go anywhere – it just lies there waiting for us to deal with it – and when the pain of grief keeps coming up for us despite our efforts to ignore it, we are wise to pay it the attention it demands.

So I strongly encourage you to find someone to talk to, my dear one – someone who respects the relationship you had with your mom and who knows something about the normal grieving process. If you haven’t yet dealt with the trauma of child sexual abuse, I urge you to begin with that. You have a heavy, heavy load on your young shoulders, and my prayer for you is that you will not give up on your efforts to find and nurture and take good care of that lost part of yourself.

Please know that you are in the thoughts and hearts of all of us.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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