The Searing Pain of Grief
When it seems as if the agony will never fade
DEAR FRAN, I read and enjoy your articles every issue. They seem so upbeat and you give great solutions. Mine is going to be completely different, and I doubt you’ll print it. My mother passed about three months ago and since then I don’t care about anything. She was 92 and so people tell me how lucky I am to have had a great mother for so long. I get so mad at them. I am not lucky. I am miserable, alone, and can’t wait until I die so I can see her again. She was my rock, my angel, the most important person to me. They say time heals, but I can’t imagine ever smiling or feeling anything again. Do some people just never get OK again? Phyllis
DEAR PHYLLIS, I am printing this because I want to honor your mother and tell you how sorry I am that you are in so much pain. Of course you don’t feel lucky now, but she was lucky to have a daughter who loved her so very much.
Phyllis, you are mourning a huge loss. I promise you, that is the most intense pain you will feel. I bet sometimes it still doesn’t feel real and other times it probably hurts so badly it’s a physical pain. The planet probably seems like a different place to you. And it is normal if you sometimes feel like nothing makes sense, and you can’t believe “everyone else” can still go about their daily routines as if nothing has happened.
After only three months, you have barely even started the grieving process. The next stages will also be painful, but they will be more manageable. Expect to feel a lot of emotions, and please don’t let anyone judge you or how quickly you should heal. Your mother is not physically here, but she can live in your heart. In time, you will find ways to hold her close rather than feel like you have to let go. One day you will smile and laugh, and you may even feel guilty that you are able to enjoy your life again. Please don’t judge that either. Your mother gave you life – I know she would want you to embrace your life. She’d want you to love her every day the way she loved you every day.
Phyllis, let those close to you support you, but also take space when you need it. Remember, there are counselors who specialize in grief who can help you deal with some of these feelings and honor your memories in a beautiful way. Love, Fran
Fran Marmor, LCSW, has been a psychotherapist for more than 20 years. Though changing some details, she writes of actual cases for BOOMER from Fort Collins, Colorado. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.