Question: This site has helped me so much. And for a few months now it has helped me respond and turn around angry situations. I lost my Mom this week. And I don't know how to deal with it. I can't sleep, I can't cry. She has been with me almost everyday of my life. Every time I think of her I have to push the thoughts away to keep from crying. My chest hurts, and I think if I cry I will never stop.
We had so many angry words these last four years. How do I forgive myself, or make the negative go away? The last couple of years she needed my attention every minute of the day. Now, I just don't know how to be me without her. I feel physically ill and I know it's my mind. But how do I start over or continue without my Momma? I am 56, not a child. My home is full of medical equipment, so I've been doing busy work getting these settled. I don't want to move or touch her personal things yet. But am being told to get rid of everything now and get my home back in order. But I can't yet, or won't, I guess. How do I continue? The hospital made huge mistakes in her care that caused her to suffer needlessly, and I think that has added to my heartbreak.
Dr. Amy: You have lost someone who was with you nearly every day of your life, and you are 56 years old. This is an especially painful loss, because of how closely your lives were intertwined. Given the way we live today—taking jobs in other cities or states and so on— many of us go home to visit our parents but don’t live with them nearly every day of our lives.
Your grief may be complicated by the anger you felt and the mistakes in medical care you mention. These are in the past now. I encourage you to take the long view and cherish your memories of the good times—which likely far outnumber the bad times. I believe that over the course of your life, you and your mother shared a deep and enduring love and that she knew just how lucky she was to have such a caring daughter. Yet, even in the midst of loving relationships, we can all sometimes say things we wish we could take back. Be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself. If you accidentally cut your finger while cooking dinner, you would feel pain for more than a week. Given that this hurt is so much greater—and so recent—you can expect to feel pain for a while. Don’t fight it. Don’t push away the thoughts of your mother at this point. Take a deep breath and accept your feelings. Your heart is broken and it’s going to take time for it to mend.
Everybody grieves differently, and this can be an especially stressful time of year. Respect your grief and grieve at your own pace, in your own way. You don’t have to get rid of your mother’s personal things right away. You will know when the time is right. I strongly encourage you to reach out for support. You might benefit greatly from joining a grief group. A hospice center can put you in touch with resources in your area. If you feel completely overwhelmed, be sure to seek professional support from your doctor or a therapist.
Since you have been caring for your mother so intensively, you now have the time to pay more attention to your own needs. This is a great time to think about joining a fitness center or taking a yoga class. If you have not been exercising much, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor first. I wish you strength and peace.
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