Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

Not So Complicated Grief

Recommended Posts

Firstly, I'm so grateful for this forum and for the professionals who take the time to participate in it. I need support and am relieved that it can be so accessible as I search for grief groups in my area.
My mother died a month ago. She was in poor health from diabetes related issues and had been in a nursing home for the past year and a half but wasn't at death's door by any means. I believe she died of a broken heart, from losing her will to live. My parents divorced 15 years ago and I was somewhat estranged from her in that I didn't want to visit or move back because I thought I had to take care of myself. One brother visited her from time to time but mostly kept his distance. My other brother stayed away entirely because he had a horrible toxic relationship with her. She lived alone and died alone in a nursing home.
I'd been waiting for her to apologize and own up to how she treated me when I was younger. In the past decade and with the clarify of hindsight, she became softer and more open to engaging with me differently and I didn't respond in kind. At least not entirely. I didn't visit over the holiday and almost always refused her requests for visits or to move back. Now that she's gone, almost all of my anger at her has disappeared. I don't have conflicted feelings about how she treated me in the past. I have incredible guilt, regret and self-loathing for not forgiving her and creating a new relationship with her when she reached out to me, which I know was difficult for her, being the type who doesn't reach out to others. The self hatred is too much to bear sometimes so I deflect it onto god.
It feels like I was living a big lie about needing to heal from my wounds and stay away from my family (especially my mother) because now it feels like I was capable of being someone else but I chose not to. It hurts so much to see how I treated her in her time of need and I don't want to hear that I did my best or that I have to forgive myself, that my mom's choices were her own. I became the only light in her life and I consciously denied her the joy I knew I could give her. I don't know what I need to hear but I hope someone has a similar experience and can empathize with what I'm going through.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am so sorry for the loss of your mother, and all you are going through. Along with this loss is your loss of dreams, particularly the dream of having a relationship with a loving mother, one that's normal and not dysfunctional. That may or may not have happened.

It is very understandable to feel guilt after someone you love has died. Marty has some good links on that, which I hope she'll find and put here. You don't have cause to feel guilt, but I know that you will probably feel it anyway, in spite of logic. Try to remember that our feelings, although valid, are not a barometer, but rather something to get through. They aren't necessarily based in truth, but just...feelings. They don't have to make sense.

My mom was extremely abusive, mental, controlling, hard to be around...all her life. Now she is in a Dementia Care Center. She little resembles the monster I had to deal with all my life. Now she weighs 72 lbs. and the Dementia has softened her a bit. She was always extremely negative and judgmental, no common sense, wouldn't listen to any of us, difficult, controlling. She is still Paranoid but at least is on medication for it finally. Because we have DX for her, it is easier to let go of all that and just see her as the frail old lady that she is now. I've had to let go of all of the past stuff. I've had to forgive her. It's never too late to forgive, not even posthumously. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the things she did were okay or right, it just means you release her from all that and you choose to move on from it. It's more of a help for YOU than for her. It was up to her to let go of her demons, it's up to you what you choose to do about it today, right now.

I read a book called Toxic Parents that helped me in my response to my mom, years ago. My sister chooses to stay away from her, hadn't talked to her in years...I talked her into a five min. visit with my mom...not for my mom's sake, but for hers. I wanted her to see how diminished my mom has become. My sisters still struggle with all of the things she's done to us over the years. I am sorry for them, I know how hard it is, I know how hard my path has been. I know how much my mom has hurt everyone over our lifetimes. It is totally okay and acceptable to choose NOT to visit someone that has been a detriment in your life. It is okay and acceptable to put yourself and your mental health first. Our personal choices are just that, how we choose to deal with something/someone. We are not all the same, nor do we all cope the same. If there's one thing I've learned it's that we cannot judge others for how they respond to what's in their lives. My sisters and I remain totally supportive of one another and our choices. If any of them choose not to forgive her, choose not to see her, I will support them in that. Whatever I say and do is with their best interest in mind, I love them and they come first to me.

My mom hasn't acknowledged or asked our forgiveness. She did lightly allude to it once, saying she wasn't always perfect...that's about as close as she's gotten. Most of the time she's lied to herself, and gotten to where she believed it. Rewrote history. That's common for older people who haven't lived good lives. That's okay with me too...I don't need to hold her accountable any more. There's a time I would have like an apology. I'm glad I let go of that because it never came. It doesn't matter any more. What's done is done. What's important now is that I learn from all I have been through and try to deal with people in a better way than my mom has. I understand that she had mental illness. It doesn't matter how much has been diagnosed or not, we all knew it. And as I've told my sisters, as much as it sucked to have her as a mother, think how much it must suck to be her. She couldn't get away from herself.

I know it's harder to deal with now that your mom is dead, but it can be done. Have you considered seeing a therapist? There are grief therapists that are really good at helping you through the maze of grief that is this journey.

I do hope your feelings of guilt dissipate as you deal with all of the stuff that was your relationship. Remember to be kind to yourself...the things you have discovered about yourself since her death you did not know beforehand...we can only respond to the knowledge we have at the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I must say, dear Mia, that I could not have said it any better than Kay just did, and I hope you will take her wise words to heart.

I'm also offering some resources that you may find informative and helpful. Be sure to follow the links you'll find embedded in the articles, as well as those listed at the base of each post, too:

Complicated Grief: Mourning An Abusive Mother

Mourning An Abusive Relationship: Suggested Resources

Grief and the Burden of Guilt

Disenfranchised Grief: Mourning the Loss of a Dream

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kay and Marty,

Thank you both so much for your responses. I'm surprised to find that it's too painful for me to respond, especially because I was so desperate to reach out. I'm going to take a little time to absorb what you've said and look forward to responding more in full.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

We will be here when you are ready.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...