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Lost Mom July 26th

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I lost my mom on July 26th. We had a distant and strange relationship my entire life as she favored my brother and made no qualms about showing it financially and otherwise. During my childhood there was much conflict in the house and she didn't protect me from it and wasn't remorseful. Dad had 7 heart attacks during my teen years and died when I was 19 (I'm 53 now). Our home revolved around chronic illness and tension and anger. I resented mom during my 20's and 30's for not protecting me from my father and brother and also had trouble with her obvious favoritism toward my brother which she expressed financially. I moved away many years ago and tried to create a more functional environment for myself and learn about love and support in other types of circles.............As an adult I had to come to terms with the fact that mom did the best she could in life with what she had to work with and loved me as best she could. In the last few years I learned to meet her on terms and accept the level of love she could offer me. I moved to Tucson to be closer to mom so we could go out to dinner and go on walks together. Many years ago mom and I enjoyed traveling the world together and loved walking and talking, so this seemed like a great plans and we both looked forward to it. A little over a month ago I had a "feeling" that mom needed me and came to San Diego to visit and saw that she wasn't looking well. I took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with lung cancer on July 2nd and died the 26th. Our plans were tragically cut short................... She asked me to stay and care for her while she was ill. During that time we had wonderful conversations, while it was possible, and most of all we talked of forgiveness and love. I told her I loved her so many times and she told me. We bonded and I was able to protect her when she was fearful when she couldn't breath....I was able to protect her in the way she couldn't protect me. I was able to love her in the way she couldn't love me. All of this was so wonderful and cathartic. As it turned out, we healed eachother in the end. At least i hope that's how it was for both of us. I miss her so much as she was my one and only last family...............I don't have a relationship with my brother, so this is it for me. I don't have a mother now. I will have to mother myself and I think I learned how to do that in those last days with my mom..............I truly loved her unconditionally.

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My dear friend,

Your story is a wonderful example of the power of forgiveness and love, and I want to thank you for reaching through your pain to share it with the rest of us.

In her insightful article, The Gift of Forgiveness, bereaved parent and psychotherapist Kay Talbot writes:

Today, in my work with grieving people. I often find that forgiveness is misunderstood. What does forgiveness mean? Let's look first at what it doesn't mean. Forgiveness does not mean condoning or pardoning insensitive or abusive behavior or acting like everything is okay when we feel it isn't. It does not mean forgetting what has happened or naively trusting others who have shown themselves to be untrustworthy.

[in Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart, Bantam Books, 1992] Robin Casarjian helps to clarify this: "What we are forgiving is not the act, not the abuse or the insensitivity. What we are forgiving is the people, the people who could not manage to honor and cherish themselves, us, their families, their spouses, their children or others. What we are forgiving is their confusion and ignorance and desperation and whatever it happens to be. It's not about what you do. It's about how you perceive the person and the situation. So you can forgive somebody and set boundaries and still take action. You can forgive somebody and litigate against them."

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to stop hating both ourselves and others. It is an act of self-interest - something we do for ourselves to find greater freedom and peace. Even when we have suffered outrageous trauma, we can work through our appropriate anger and choose forgiveness as a powerful way to cast off the role of victim . . .

When we choose forgiveness, we consciously recognize that we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves - gradually, over time, and with much difficult, emotional work . . .

Forgiving becomes a process we embrace over and over. Memorials and rituals are tools we use to continue the process. Forgiveness is not a one-time event that absolves us of all future feelings of anger or guilt. Actually, guilt, like anger, can be a useful emotion. Appropriate guilt stirs up our consciences and makes us realize we need to ask for forgiveness. But inappropriate guilt keeps us from feeling forgiven and from creating a healthy future.

In my evolving grief process, I have learned to identify, express and release anger and inappropriate guilt, to forgive, to seek and receive forgiveness. The person I am becoming in this process is a gift from my daughter. Not one I would have chosen, but one I choose to cherish nevertheless. My hope is that all who grieve will find such gifts within the legacy of their own lives.

– Kay Talbot, "The Gift of Forgiveness," Bereavement Magazine, March / April 1999

Wishing you peace and continued healing,

Marty T

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dear donna,

thank you for your kind words, it really helped. im sorry you had such a short time between ur moms diagnosis and passing. im glad that u ironed out ur differences during her last days, im sure it will help in the days and months to come. i dont know which is worse, fast like yours, or watching them fade away over a period of time. either way, its a huge void in each of our lives which we have to somehow accept and move on from. but to move on to where? how is this ever gonna feel okay? theres nothing okay about it!

tomorrow is my mothers birthday, well really today since its after 1am now. im def going to visit her, but i cant help but feel so robbed of her presence. i am so angry that she was taken from us so soon. i thought the breakup of my marriage was painful...that was a piece of cake compared to this loss. i was so looking forward to growing old with her and living together. now, for the first time in my life, i feel so damn lonely. i dont feel like doing anything or seeing any1. im like a robot, get up, go to work, come home, veg out in front of tv, sleep and do it all over again. this is such a bad nightmare. if it wasnt for my daughter, i dont think i could handle it alone. she gives me reason to get out of bed, but losing my mom makes me want to crawl back under the covers. one thing that doesnt bother/scare me anymore: death, cuz i will be with her again. i just hope that life without her gets easier soon, cuz ive never felt so unloved in my life. she was my cheerleader, and now theres no1 left who truly loves/cares as much, so whats the point of telling any1? thanx for listening again. good luck to u too.

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