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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Losing a Parent...

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you ~ Philippians 1:3 (KJV)


Today my mother would have turned 44.  She was still so young...

Coping with losing a parent is a long, hard process.  In my opinion losing a parent, or a child, is one of the hardest things a person may have to endure.  They say that time heals all wounds but in this instance I don't believe that to be true.  I do believe that one day I won't feel as bad as I continue to feel now but I know I will never get over this.  I will; however, learn how to cope with it.

There are things I have learned, and am still learning, that I want to share in hopes of not only helping someone who may be going through the same, but also to help myself heal in the process.

I have to allow myself to grieve properly...
The night I lost my mother was one of the only moments I had allowed myself to completely lose myself in grief, to cry out for her, to mourn her, to need her and want to be with her.  The next day I became totally numb to it all. Why?  I had to make decisions, I had to plan and most importantly I thought I had to be strong.  

There are several stages of grief, the most commonly recognized stages being Denial, Anger / Pain, Bargaining / Guilt, Depression and Acceptance.  I recognize that in the beginning this was my denial phase.  But as time went on I thought I still needed to be strong.  This mistake led to an unhealthy sort of depression that I still inwardly struggle with now.  Perhaps, if I had allowed myself to grieve properly this could have been avoided.


I don't have to be strong and I must ask for the comfort that I need...
I thought I had to be strong for my family because this was the second time my grandparents had lost a child, the second time my aunts had lost a sister.  I thought I had to be strong for my brothers because I was the oldest. I thought I had to be strong for Mario because I was carrying his child and ultimately I thought I had to be strong because no one I knew had ever lost a parent and therefore did not know how to comfort me.  

So I in turn attempted to be "strong".  This strategy caused anger and it caused me to push people away.  Instead I should have insisted that I needed them now more than ever.  Putting on a facade of strength may have been one of the worst things I could have done.  I should have allowed myself to cry and cry hard, pregnant or not.  Above all, I should not have expected people to read my mind.  I know now, that it's okay to be vulnerable and weak and it's okay if people don't understand--how could they.  But just like everyone else needed someone to be strong for them, I needed someone to be strong for me too.  I should have asked for comfort when I needed it even if I felt like I shouldn't have to ask and even if I thought it would make others uncomfortable. 

I have to learn to "be a parent to myself"...
When I was hurt and angry and felt alone I found an article online about this book called Parentless Parents by Allison Gilbert.  I ended up reading a particular excerpt daily to remind myself to get it together.  The excerpt basically said that although I wanted to be rescued, and wanted people to anticipate my needs and to care for me more than they did....they couldn't!  Ultimately, they aren't my mom and they can't take her place.  So I would have to learn to not just be a new mother, wife and homemaker but also a "parent to myself" in a sense.  

I have to remember to have faith in myself and my ability to make it through.  I have to realize that although I may need the comfort of others I also have to find a way to pick myself up and keep moving forward.  

I can't hold on to the anger and the guilt that follows...
I was angry with the doctors, angry with the disease, angry that she was gone. For a moment I was even angry with God.  Not at His decision to take her, but moreso that He took her when He did.  

When I think about it now, it's so selfish.  I needed, and still need, my mother more than ever.  I understood that she was suffering, that her life, in general, had been long and hard and full of pain and suffering and that she had endured enough.  I believed and understood that it was finally time for her to experience everlasting joy.  But now, Lord?  While I'm pregnant?  They'll never meet each other.  What about all of the questions I have?  I don't understand.  How can I be a mom without my mom?!?  

Not to mention the guilt that followed. Oftentimes the guilt is what makes it hard for me to fall asleep at night.  I wonder what I could have done differently.  Why didn't I move quicker when she was first diagnosed?  Why didn't I move her to another hospital sooner? Why didn't I give her a fighting chance at the very end? Why didn't I...? Why didn't I..., WHY DIDN'T I...?!?  

Because I am not GOD!  There is nothing I could have done differently to change God's plan for my mother's life. How profound that revelation is to me, even now, as I still deal with this stage of my grief.

ALSO READ:  Be Encouraged, Motherless Mothers

Express my thoughts and feelings...
Part of the reason for this post is just to allow me to get things out.  I thought I had to keep it all to myself. I didn't want to burden my family...their grieving too. I didn't want to burden my friends...because life goes on for the rest of the world and great things were happening in their lives. I didn't want to confide in Mario because he was already worried enough about me and the well-being of our unborn child and I didn't want him to worry more.  

What I found out was that suppressing my feelings in that way could have potentially led to my demise.  You see it's natural to become depressed after a loss, it's a part of the grieving process.  However, I suppressed my emotions until I was not only depressed but angry and bitter as well.  I pushed people away and felt alone.  Eventually, I no longer cared to live...I just wanted to be with her.  But thank God for his grace and mercy for He took her while I was pregnant...the very thing I questioned.  But now I realize had it not been for the child in my womb I probably wouldn't be here today.  How GREAT is our GOD for He, and His plan, is perfect in every way!!!

I say all that to say that it's so important that you get your feelings out.  Even if you don't think people want to be bothered and even if you think they don't understand.  If they care, then it shouldn't matter. It's not so much about them understanding as it is about you just letting it all go.  Crying out loud, sharing your thoughts, feelings, memories.  Expressing yourself in any way, shape or form is needed in order to heal.  I've found myself doing more and more of that as time goes on and it is proving to be just what I need.

Ultimately, we all grieve differently.  At some point, it's important to recognize where we are in our grief and how we're dealing with it.  Then we must put it all on the table and attempt to figure out what needs to be done to start the healing process so that we can eventually find acceptance.

-a grieving, but healing daughter

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4 comments

  1. Nicole, I can't even imagine the pain you went through and are still going through. It's crazy how the 7 stages of grief works...and I think it's necessary to go through each one. It's totally ok that you went through all that anger. You're so blessed to have had the wonderful example of your mother, and to carry that on to sweet Maddie.

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  2. I found your blog via a Google search and had to leave a comment on this post.

    My dad was killed in a car accident in December of 2005; I was 25 years old and yet to have any children of my own.

    It's been seven years now and I STILL struggle. I found myself, this year, feeling a little guilty as it was the first year since his death that I was able to get into Christmas, to really decorate and celebrate, before "the Anniversary." In the past, I always felt as though I had to get past Dec 3rd before I coud ever even begin to think about the holidays.

    Your section in this post about being strong really spoke to me. When my dad passed, I felt I had to be strong for my younger brother. I felt I had to be strong for my aunt as she lost her only sibling. I felt I had to be strong for my grandparents who were fragile in their age/ health and had lst their only son. I honestly wish now, looking back, that someone would've just told me it was okay to "lose it" and let my grief take over ... even momentarily.

    Mostly I just wanted to leave you a note in this entry as someone else who has lost a parent at a young age and understands the grief.

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  3. What a beautiful and honest post. So glad I got to "meet" you through Kaitlyn's blog!!

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