Monday, October 27, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 27: Losing a Parent

In a few days, I'll observe an anniversary I never wanted...the first anniversary of my mother's death.  Of course, people lose parents at every age.  My husband's mom died when he was 12 years old.  But as we age, it's only natural that our parents may precede us in death.

Three months after my mom died unexpectedly, I wrote the following.  I thought I would share it again here.


On the evening of November 5, 2013, I got the phone call that forever changed my life.

It was my son Justin, calling from Texas where most of my family lives.

When I saw his picture on my phone, I expected a light-hearted chat.  But the first thing I heard sounded like some sort of static. I later realized it was the sound of him crying.

When he was finally able to speak, I heard the terrifying words, "I don't have any details, but Uncle David says Momo is unresponsive, and it isn't good."

That was a little over three months ago, and I'm still navigating an ocean of grief.


The sudden death of a loved one is different from other deaths. I'm not saying it's worse, just a bad way.

I don't discount or minimize the grief that lasts for years, seeing a loved one waste away slowly, perhaps in pain or not themselves. That's what happened with my dad. The loss is no less of a loss, and carries its own brand of heartache.

But the death of my mother...with no warning, no inkling other than that she was 80 years old and had high cholesterol...gobsmacked us.

 In my father's case, we were able to peruse hospice literature that readied us for the end. We were able to gather around him and say our final good-byes. We were as prepared as one can be for the death of a loved one--which, granted, is never prepared enough.

 But we were able to release him to heaven and not feel sucker-punched.


One thing we cling to is the apparent peacefulness of her death.  She laid down for her usual afternoon reading session that usually resulted in a nap. She had fallen asleep and died of cardiac arrest. No trauma, no pain...she simply went to sleep and woke up in heaven.

And yes, we are so thankful for that. We are completely cognizant of and grateful for the blessings...that she never suffered, didn't linger in the throes of a painful and debilitating disease. We rejoice that she's with my dad and all the loved ones that have gone on before.

But my mother...oh, my mother was amazing, wonderful, everything a mother should be. She was central to our existence. She was the hub around which we all gathered. She was the matriarch. Her unconditional love, her joy, her encouragement, her support, her smile, her faith, her grace--essential to our lives.

An ocean of grief

I said earlier that I'm navigating an ocean of grief.  Some days are relatively smooth and fair, others are stormy and tumultuous.  It's unchartered territory for me, because the pain is much more acute and shattering than was (and is) the grief for my beloved father.

We siblings ask, almost rhetorically, "When will this pain end?" "When will our grief settle down and become manageable?"

The truth is, on any given day, at any given moment, I could cry for my mother.

Sweet friends who have been through the same thing try to give us light at the end of the tunnel.  I look forward to a time where it won't be so raw, so painful to the touch, where tears will be few and far between.

I also look forward to the day that I'll see both my parents again.  If I didn't have this hope, this faith, I don't see how I could carry on at all. How do people do it who don't have this hope?

In the meantime...

I just miss my mommy.

Note: A year later, I'm still grieving, although the grief seems more manageable in many ways.  If you lose a parent and are haven't a hard time dealing with it, please be aware that most communities offer grief counseling groups that can be very helpful.  That may well be an option for you.

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'll be blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!


Anonymous said...

Such sweet words. Losing those we love is always hard, but that saying "time heals all wounds" is so true. Of course, in the face of it, I doubted at times.
My Gramma passed away at 91. She helped raise me and the hubby and I cared for her over the last 6 years if her life either in our home or a facility {where we were there several days a week!}. Having a Great Grandmother close by was SUCH a gift. She gave her heart to Jesus at 85 and for that I am so thankful.
Now we are caring for my in-laws. Dad is so close to passing {advanced COPD :( }. I appreciate your words today because they reminded me that I must keep praying for my husband as he knows his time with his dad is coming to an end.
Grief is hard, but I also believe it helps us love more, express more, and appreciate more each day.
Thank you for sharing your heart <3.

Tara Ulrich said...

So hard to say goodbye! Prayers as you continue to experience your grief.

Denise Fabian said...

My first anniversary of the 2nd goodbye of my mother was this past August 1. Before that was a long goodbye as I lost her daily through 14 years of Alzheimers. No matter the circumstances, it is hard. Thank you for sharing your story today! (Visiting from 31 days)

Anastasia Rose said...

No matter what the circumstances are, losing a loved one is never easy. And although life does move on and the grief becomes more manageable, you never truly forget. Thank you for sharing this again. It's so full of raw beauty and vulnerability... Hugs to you in this difficult time!

Anastasia Rose

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your grief had subsided some. I pray my parents' passing will be as peaceful.

Related Posts with Thumbnails