GRIEF- Struggling After Mom's Death

Dear Barbara, I lost my mom to cancer. I had taken 2 months off work to be at her home. I have lost my way since her dying. Lost my job, home, family, friends. I am struggling as I write. Why is this still the core of my downfall. I saw my alcoholic dad to his last breath too, 20 years before, and although at that time I walked out on a job I loved and people in my life to care for him, I was able to stand on my own two feet afterwards. Any writings for stunted grief process would be appreciated.

Grief can be very complicated: as complicated as our relationship with the person that died. In fact when we are having challenges with our grieving, with figuring out how to go on living now that our special person is no longer with us, I always suggest we look at what the relationship was like in the years before the death. Most often the more complicated and challenging the relationship, the more difficult it is for us to figure out how to move forward. It is as if all that was unsaid, or maybe loudly said and can’t be taken back, is between us and living our life in a healthy manner. Often after a person dies we forget that there is no perfect relationship, that there are easy times and difficult times. Somehow once a person dies we elevate them to sainthood. By doing that we lock in the hurts, the guilt that is part of any relationship. It is healthy if we can acknowledge all of our feelings for the person that is gone, positive and negative.

You didn’t say how long ago your mother died but I would suggest you write her a letter. In the letter write everything you need and often didn’t say to her---the good times and the difficult times. Let the tears come, let the anger, the loneliness, the confusion all come forth through your pen onto the paper. When you are finished, reread it then burn it. Let the ashes, along with all the held in feelings go into the air.

I also think you should see a counselor who specializes in grief. Not all counselors understand grief so find one who specializes in grief. Most hospice programs have grief counseling available to anyone in the community, not just those connected to hospice patients they have served. Generally there is no charge for grief groups that Hospice offer.

Something more about... GRIEF- Struggling After Mom's Death

As complicated as grief is, I have written a book that may be able to help. It's called, MY FRIEND, I CARE The Grief Experience.

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Hi Bob, I will put your letter on the blog site. I have not seen others respond to individual situations before but there is always a first time. I recommend you continue going to counseling to help you sort out this life experience. Your mother would want her son to find happiness and peace of mind. It seems that her philosophy was to “make lemonade" out of the “lemons” her life produced. She would want you to do the same. Counseling is the place to start. My blessings are with you on this journey. Barbara


This article was very interesting. I am so out of control I almost don’t know where to begin. Some family background, Mom and Dad married 50 years. Got married since my Mother was pregnant, not necessarily because they were a good match. They have 4 kids together…..3 boys and 1 girl. I am writing this today, and I am the oldest of the children (50). My parents marriage was subjected to infidelity from early on. My Dad never really had very strong feelings for my Mom and if a pretty emotionless person. Looking back, I think they were too busy raising the kids to recognize their differences. My Mom and I were cut from the same cloth, and the other 3 sibling were much closer with their Dad. My Mom wanted a close relationship with all her kids, but some of them just didn’t mesh as well as her and I did. I vividly remember at the age of 12 or 13, my Mom finding out about an affair my Dad had. She made an attempt at taking her life. Luckily she lived, but had a very unhappy marriage. This continued on mostly unbeknownst to most of us at the time. My Mom eventually turned to me as someone to talk to, cry with, and seek advise. The hours that were spent were countless over a period of years. I loved my Mother so much that I would do anything for her without question. At the time I chose to listen, support her, comfort her, but didn’t really want to bear the burden of telling her what to do. My Mom simply didn’t have the courage to file for divorce. My Dad, who really had no feelings for her, no emotions, was able to tolerate his situation. He was not going to file for divorce either, since his most important asset in life was his money/paycheck, and he wasn’t voluntarily going to cut that in half, probably lose the house, and be court ordered to pay child support. So over the years, they remained together. Basically living somewhat separate lives, just under the same roof. I had some serious issues with my Dad’s infidelity when I was in school and seen the hurt and pain he was causing my Mom. Beyond that I still remembered what he had done, but didn’t dwell on it. Three years ago my Mom gets sick, has sustained some loss of cognitive function and would require 24 hour round the clock care. After a month in ICU and two month in skilled nursing with some progress, but not enough to keep the insurance company happy. The options were to move her to long-term care within the nursing home or bring her back to her house. There really was no decision, I quit my job and cared for my Mother for three years. I did get some much needed help from my sister, but had 1 brother living out of state who couldn’t do anything and 1 brother living nearby, who just wasn’t interested in doing much. She lasted 3 years…….it still breaks my heart…….I still can’t accept her passing in Feb. 2019. In the beginning there is so much that is occurring, you are numb, and things are just seriously out of whack. Your thinking is not normal if you can manage to think at all. We were all grieving in our own way, which I know from all my reading is a very normal thing. Within our family, it was I that was taking my Mom’s death the hardest. Nobody was surprised by that. I continued to stay in the home and provide some assistance to my Dad who has Parkinson’s Disease. He doesn’t require anywhere near the amount of care that my Mom did. That lasted about 7 or 8 months after Mom died. It was then that his infidelity within their marriage really started a fire within me. I was devastated by the loss of my Mom, guilty that all the time spent listening to and comforting my Mom when she needed someone to talk to I should have pushed her to get the Divorce. I’m sure she would have done it with my consistent encouragement. Coupled with having to think about this person whom I cared so much about, suffered and dealt with sadness in her marriage because of my Dad’s actions. She was the most wonderful, loving, person you can imagine. Long story short, I moved out of their house. #1 it didn’t feel like home anymore, and #2 I couldn’t stand the sight of my Dad. Here we are a couple months later. I couldn’t attend the holidays this year, it was just too much emotionally for me. I have done some not so nice things to my Dad, in an effort to cause him to feel the way he made my Mom feel. The family is divided, my 3 siblings support their Dad and my deceased Mother would have had my back to the bitter end if she were still alive. I am not married, suffering from major depression, which I see my Dr. for and take prescribed meds for. Have gone to a therapist a couple times. Not really knowing what to think or what to do. I do not think I have the ability to forgive my Dad. I really just don’t see much purpose for anything at the moment. I am interested to hear of any similar experiences and how they evolved and people moved on, either with or without the family that once was. Really all I want is my Mom……………hoping I get some comments from other readers. Thanks for your time and sorry for the loss that has brought you to this page.


Hi Danielle, thank you for the kind words. Sounds like you already are like me in many ways. I am sorry your husband had a difficult death. We, who work in hospice and know how dying can be, often feel frustrated when traditional medicine does it their way.
I am impressed that just by reading the grief article you were able to see yourself and figure out what you need to do to change and be healthier. Particularly while you are so early in your grief. Good for you! My blessings are with you. Barbara


Dear Barbara,
As I read the previous entries, and acknowledge the loss of my husband 2 weeks ago, I realize I might be expecting too much of myself. We had our problems, his chronic heslth issues being one of them. As a nurse, a hospice nurse at that, I was the eternal caregiver. When he was dx with AML shortly after going into the hospital right before Christmas , I was his guardian and caregiver. He died a horrible death due to many factors, and I felt guilty. But it wasn’t all roses and chocolates before, yet here I am doing exactly what you describe and practically making a shrine at my bedside. I will right the letter…and thankfully because I am a hospice nurse, I have the resources for grief counselling.
Thank you again my friend…you always have the answers!
PS: I want to be you when I grow up!

Janet Miller

This is EXACTLY the advice you gave to me at the pending death of my mother many years ago. I did write the letter, expressing how I felt about our very complicated relationship, and I requested that it be cremated with her. It did make a difference in how I handled her passing. She was no saint, and we certainly had our issues with each other, but I am able to remember her with love and gratitude for all that she did for me. Thank you for your valuable advice, my dear friend.

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