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My Mother, My Heart

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My Mother passed away on September 7, 2012, after intensely battling cancer for 6-1/2 years. Too young! Diagnosed at 56 and passed at 63. I spent the last 2 weeks of her life with her, giving her around the clock care. I was the only one present when she took her last breath. It was such a gift to have been with her. Our connection was so intimately close that throughout the years I felt that if she should go, I would die right alongside her. Once she passed, I felt as though the world ought to just stop.

I feel like, in a way, I have been grieving the loss of my Mom since the intial diagnosis of cancer in 2006, but nothing comes close to the experience since her actual passing. There is no way to prepare.

Though I lived 500 miles away, I was there for Mom and Dad more than my two siblings or anyone else. Since I was the only unmarried one, and the only entrepreneur, it was expected of me. From my perspective, I was there because I wanted to be, not because of my marital status or occupation. Though it has certainly taken its toll on my affairs, I have no regrets.

I have had many losses throughout the years:

Mom was diagnosed with cancer in March of 2006. A dear friend of 10 years died of cancer in April 2006, and then my grandmother (Mother's mom) died in June 2006. I lost an investment property to foreclosure in 2008, lost my business in 2009, lost a dear friend of 10 years in 2009, lost a dear friend of 16 years in 2010, lost another dear friend of 15 years in 2011, lost my car of 8 years to a wreck in 2011, lost the business I had rebuilt in May 2012, lost my home of 5 years to foreclosure in May of 2012, lost Mom in September 2012. All of these losses have been painful and have had a cumulative impact on me, but nothing has devastated me more than losing my Mom.

Once I returned from Mom's passing, I discovered I had been robbed. Many of my precious belongings were gone, as were the items I planned to use for rebuilding my vacation rental business. It was not only an emotionally taxing occurrence, it was a major monetary and finanical setback. I pushed forward and completed renovations on 3 places from mid September until October, though I was barely able to function since Mom's passing.

My romantic love relationship had been going extremely well, but became strained after my Mom passed. Intimacy was challenging for me, but I tried to stretch to give the relationship more because it was so important to me, and I communicated clearly, openly and vulnerably. Being robbed, and focusing on building the business did not help matters on the romantic front, as I was stretched so thin.

At the beginning of November, I had an emotional meltdown. I just reached an overflow of emotion that I had feared, but had never before experienced in my life. I have always been so strong for everyone else. I needed to allow myself to be able to fall apart too. It was not directed at my life partner, but having witnessed the meltdown, left and ended the relationship. Not only left, but cut me off completley and has had no conversation about any of it. This has been so painful. I have struggled with feeling guilty for having expressed my emotions. I have been trying to give myself a lot of acceptance, care and love, as I feel it is important to not feel guilty for expressing the emotion that arose. It seems part of the grieving process, and healthy in fact. I have had deep remorse for expressing my feelings because it resulted in the demise of my relationship with the love of my life. I have been in disbelief, and so deeply saddened.

I have been so deeply heartbroken in this past month, I cannot tell sometimes where the grieving for my Mom and that of my love relationship begin or end. It upsets me that they have to be considered at the same time. How could I be left at such a time?

I have been experiencing deep emotional upheavals that also feel like the purging of a 40-year (my age) dynamic between my parents and me ending, the loss of Mom and the loss of my life as I've known it. And now, no one to be there and love me through it.

This is defintiely the Winter of my life.

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I'm so sorry for the pain you're going through right now. You have come to the right place for support and help. I'm fairly new to this site but have found that everyone here is so caring. Many have gone through painful life experiences and will be here to support you. I think one of the most important things I've learned from coming here is that sometimes you can't make it day by day, you have to go moment by moment, hour by hour. I don't have words to make things better for you now. Grieving is so induvidual, but there will be more replies to your post that will help you during this difficult time in your life. Know that the people here care about you. Marty will be replying to your post and she is sooo supportive and will be able to direct you to links that may ease some of the pain you're feeling. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


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Dear One,

I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced so many losses in your life over the last six years, and I can only imagine how traumatized you must feel. To say that the cumulative losses you’ve endured is overwhelming is an understatement, and my heart goes out to you.

It’s especially sad to learn that the love of your life reacted so negatively to your need to express your emotions in response to all that’s happened to you. I commend you for your self-awareness and determination to keep going in the face of all of this. Clearly you are a survivor, and the strengths and resilience you've developed and used in the past six years are the same ones that will get you through this now.

What your partner witnessed as your “emotional meltdown” was not your "going out of your mind" or "having a nervous breakdown" – it was a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation. Because you've been hit with one significant loss after another, probably with little opportunity to process each of them separately and individually, you found yourself in a state of grief overload. Such is the nature of grief: If we can't give it the attention it demands at the time of our loss, it doesn't "go" anywhere, and it doesn't get resolved –it simply goes underground and waits for us to take care of it. When we reach that point of overload, our reactions to all those losses can come out all at once, and it can feel as if any or all of them had happened yesterday. As soon as we are hit with just one more loss, or even the anniversary of a past loss, it is not at all uncommon for that event to trigger all the grief reactions we've been suppressing for a very long time—like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. To someone entirely unfamiliar with grief, witnessing a person in grief overload can seem fairly frightening and disturbing.

As you say, it is most unfortunate that you’re faced with mourning the loss of your love partner at the same time you’re mourning the death of your mother. Since these losses came so close together, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are still in a state of shock and disbelief, not even ready to begin the work of grieving. That's not necessarily a bad thing—denying the reality of what is happening can be nature's way of cushioning the blows because they are way too much for you to take in all at once, and it may be the only way you can continue to function on a daily basis.

Still, it’s important that you grant yourself permission and sufficient time to pay attention to each of these significant losses. Since you have access to the Internet, you have a world of information, comfort and support at your fingertips. It’s good that you’ve found your way to this warm and caring place, but I don't think it's realistic to expect that each of your issues can be fully addressed here. I think it's important that, in addition to the compassionate companionship and support I know you will continue to find here, you also have someone to talk to in person about all of this, so that your feelings about each of your losses can be explored, expressed, worked through and released. As overwhelmed as you feel, you are in need of support, comfort and understanding, and I hope you will think of this as a gift you can give to yourself.

At the very least, I encourage you to do some reading about grief so you'll have a better sense of what normal grief looks and feels like, as well as what you can do to manage your own reactions. This alone can be very reassuring.

See, for example,

Multiple Losses: Start With the Pain, by Harriet Hodgson

Heartbreak, Abandonment & Betrayal, A Guided Imagery CD by Belleruth Naparstek

Mourning the Death of a Love Relationship by Marty Tousley

Is Divorce Worthy of Grief? by Marty Tousely

Thread, Living A Lifetime Movie

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Thank you both for your loving words. MartyT, it is such a gift to me at this time to feel understood by reading your kind words., though I was so moved, I could barely see the words through the tears. I also appreciate the suggestions you've made. Thank you.

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