A death in the family.
December 11, 2006 2:19 PM   Subscribe

My mother passed away last week and now I'm lost.

Forgive me in advance for the blabbering mess that might follow.

After a year long battle with breast cancer my mother died (somewhat peacefully) last week and I'm grappling with...life.

People have told me I should have been more prepared for it, but how? Yes, I realised it would happen one day...at some point, but not now. Breast cancer is supposed to be the most "fixable", right?

I and the rest of my family were really dependant on her. I don't think I've ever bought clothes in my life without asking for her advice first, to give you an idea of this "dependance".

So here I am, less than a week on and I'm numb. And all I can feel is...nothing. I don't know what to do. My father has hit the bottle pretty hard, although he claims it's just a temporary soution.

Friends and family have been great, but I don't feel comfortable talking to them about this stuff and they all seem to have moved on since the funeral.

For what it's worth, I'm 18, live at home and with two extremely emotionally closed up people (my father and my brother).

Is there anything I can do for myself, or for my brother and dad to help us through this?

(I just want her back. Is that really so hard? Why isn't there a magic spell? I just want her back.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (68 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
You need to mourn. You need to weep. You need to feel some of the pain that is too big for you to hold.

I had a similar problem when I was 20 and the way I helped solve it was to make my own memorial. I set up a little shrine, dressed up, lit a few candles and cried my eyes out when up to then I couldn't manage a single tear. It was a start.

Funerals are not for the dead. Funerals are for the living.
posted by plinth at 2:24 PM on December 11, 2006

I am so so sorry for your loss. It has only been a week. Realize that you will never be over her passing. The best thing you can do for yourself is to enroll in a grief counseling class. Many churches offer these and you do not have to belong to their denomination to attend their classes. As for your brother and father. They may have their own way of grieving. It is a difficult position for you to be the one to tell your father to lay of the alcohol. It may be a temporary solution but it could lead to a lifetime of problems. Let him know that you care and are concerned and perhaps invite him to a grief class. My deepest sympathies are with you.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:26 PM on December 11, 2006

my condolences. i'm sorry for your loss.

people who tell you you should have been "more prepared" for this are mis-guided. i don't believe there is any way to fully prepare yourself for the loss of a parent.

it's only been a week - your feelings are completely normal.

you say you're not comfortable talking to your friends and family about this stuff - what about a counselor?
posted by netsirk at 2:28 PM on December 11, 2006

I am so sorry for your loss. Time will help. It will still be hard 10 years from now. You will learn to pick out clothes yourself, but you'll probably think about what she might have said. It might help to think and perhaps write about her. Talk with your father and brother with her. She shouldn't be a taboo subject just because you are hurting.
posted by sulaine at 2:28 PM on December 11, 2006

People have told me I should have been more prepared for it

I had eleven years to prepare for my Dad's final exit (he was in and out of the hospital with congestive heart disease that whole time) and I wasn't even slightly prepared when I got the phone call from my step mom telling me that he didn't wake up. People who think that you should be taking this better are being idiots, there's no way to prepare for the fact that you're never going to talk to your Mom again. Other than that I don't really have any useful advice, time will heal but very slowly. Definitely find someone to talk to, a friend, family member, clergy, councilor, someone.
posted by octothorpe at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2006

I have a fairly close extended family, and when somebody dies, it tends to bring us together. Spend time with other family members who were close with your mother, not necessarily to talk about her, but just to be with people who know what you're going through.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:33 PM on December 11, 2006

Best answer: Oh, god, liquorice, I am so so so sorry.

My mom died about a year and a half ago, from pancreatic cancer. There's no such thing as "being ready" to lose your mom. It sucks, and it sucks some more, and then it keeps sucking. You learn to live with it, of course, but you don't get over it (and don't let anyone tell you you're supposed to be "over it" at some set point).

After my mom died, my immediate family became all-male too, which I do think is an added complication. I think men are encouraged to deal with grief by shutting down in some ways ("being strong"), and for me, feeling shut out in that way by my father and brother felt hard. It also made me miss the emotional connections that my mother engendered in my family all the more, and left me feeling a huge amount of pressure to fill in that role (because I was suddenly the senior woman in the family, in some way).

What helped: Letting my other family members deal with their grief in their own way, and respecting their process. Dealing with my grief in my own way, and not letting anyone tell me I was doing it wrong, and trying not to be afraid to ask for what I needed (for me, that often meant telling my father when I wasn't doing well, even if it seemed like he needed me to "be strong"). Yoga. Eating well. Getting enough sleep. Therapy. Online message boards for people dealing with grief. Completely and utterly ignoring the people in my life who were being unhelpful (those who insisted that going out drinking every night would be "good for me," or those who just seemed to insist I act like nothing was wrong in order to prove to them that I was OK). Leaning hard on those friends who did get what I was going through, and were willing to be there for me even if I wasn't being entertaining.

As a reader, I really, really, *really* wanted narratives about how women deal with their mothers' death (everything I could think of was sons and parents, and the daugher dimension was so important to me). I read a lot of crap, then someone recommended Hope Edelman. Her book Motherless Daughters was the only thing I read that helped in so many ways -- just knowing other women were dealing with some of the same issues, and knowing they had managed to get through it.

My therapist's advice, over and over: "Do more of what makes you feel better, and less of what makes you feel worse."

And don't punish yourself for feeling anything you're feeling, or for feeling things in different ways than your family. My father would get mad at himself for having bad days, because he thought my mother would have wanted him to be strong. I still have problems sometimes when I have good days, because I feel like it's being disloyal to my grief. All of that is normal, and natural, and just something you need to get through.

It's also extremely likely that the people around you will suck for a while. We don't deal well with death in Western society, and friends may suddenly get really weird around you. They may say stupid things, or avoid you out of fear of saying stupid things, or (what suprised me most) kind of forget about your grief after a month or so. Hang on to the friends who stand by you, and don't worry about those who don't. Some of them may come back later, but right now you have every right to concentrate on yourself and not try to mold yourself into someone else in order to make your friends more comfortable.

I wish I could bring her back for you, liquorice. I wish I could bring my own mom back. It's just so hard... so hard.

Please feel free to email me, even just to rant and rave and cry.
posted by occhiblu at 2:37 PM on December 11, 2006 [14 favorites]

everything that's been said here has been great. seeking some sort of guidance (spiritual or professional) is a very good idea. i can imagine that it's especially hard given your age -- if you're 65, yes, you can probably be prepared for your parents' passing on, but certainly not when you're 18.

mourning is something that should be done openly -- my father died when I was 15 and I bottled everything up inside. it was doing this which I think led to a lot of self-destructive behavior I've engaged in for the past 14 years.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2006

You are only 18 and it has just been a week, I would say you have every right to feel bent out of shape. Do your crying, it is a thing that needs doing. Try to cook and do other things around the house, keeping busy on family work sometimes helps. Spend time with your father and brother, they feel lost too. I am sorry for your loss.
posted by Iron Rat at 2:41 PM on December 11, 2006

I am so very sorry for your loss.

I am a pastor, and part of my life's work is ministry with the grieving, and it has taught me four things:

1. There are no shortcuts. You have to grieve. It is a normal process we have to go through. I have had families tell me
that they did not want a funeral, as if avoiding this would enable them to 'skip ahead' through the grieving process. A month later, they call back and ask for the funeral to happen. This is a roundabout way of saying, it is OK to not be OK.

2. It gets worse before it gets better. There is no avoiding this one either, especially the first year (first birthday, anniversay, Christmas, Hannakuah, Halloween, Thanksgiving, anniversary of the death) without your mom.

3. I would suggest you find some grief therapy groups in your area. You can find both secular and/or religious ones to suit you. Sometimes, the funeral homes can tell you where some groups are meeting. In fact, in my town, the funeral home sponsors a grief support group. Just make sure you try a group if you feel like you need it. Don't be a hero. You are not helping anyone by trying to hold it all inside.

4. (Perhaps most importantly) it really does eventually get better, and when it does, all of the good memories remain with you forever, and eventually, you can even smile when you remember them.

Hang in there. I am praying for you.
posted by 4ster at 2:43 PM on December 11, 2006 [5 favorites]

I'm so sorry.
I've lost a lot of women in my family to breast cancer, and in the past two years both my mom and my twin had close calls. Reading your post brought back to me nights where I sat up, borderline frantic, unable to sleep until i had at least three slugs of scotch in me. I remember boxing shadows trying to tire myself out, only to get up the next morning and pretend like I was a-ok ready to face another day as Sara Anne, amateur nurse. Friends still don't understand how profoundly these events have effected me.

Grieving is both predictable, universal (five steps) and unpredictable, personal (you move along at your own pace, and the steps manifest for you in ways they won't for your dad or brother). I think that you need to talk to a therapist, or school counselor or clergy because you need to speak to someone who is not personally involved in this and who has experience with helping people grieve. Hopefully you can also encourage your father and brother to participate.

A way in which you can honor your mother's memory is by putting together a family history to try to determine if breast cancer is hereditary in your family. I hope that your mom had sisters or brothers who can sit down with you and make up a detailed family chart for these purposes. You can also honor your mother by doing your monthly breast exams, by eschewing alcohol, reducing your consumption of animal fats and by getting enough exercise, all of which are recently tied to prevention of breast cancer.

And about that magic spell for bringing back those we have lost: if you ever find it, let me know?

Again, so sorry.
posted by Sara Anne at 2:43 PM on December 11, 2006

A semi-practical solution: I think part of what keeps people from talking about grief is that they can't "fix" anything. There's no fix, right? Fixing the problem would require bringing your mom back. What you (probably) need from people right now is for them to listen, and be supportive. Sometimes it helps (especially when talking to men) to say: "I need some help right now. Can you just listen to me for a bit?" You've given them something to fix -- your lack of listener -- and you've helped define the way in which you would like them to behave ("just listen"). Framing things this way can sometimes help both you and your listener feel less overwhelmed by your emotions, and encourage more dialogue because it doesn't seem so scary.

All this said... I'm not sure I could have gotten through any of this without some outside support. Families can pull together, of course, but it can be hard sometimes to rely on people who are currently just as messed up as you are. Therapists, priests, support groups, therapist-type friends... someone who can just let you feel as crappy as you want, without putting any pressure on you to cap your feelings for the good of the family/relationship, is really invaluable.
posted by occhiblu at 2:46 PM on December 11, 2006 [2 favorites]

I was 26 when my father died. A lot older than you by some measures, but not that much older in many ways. I'd been anticipating his death for years, to some degree, and for the previous 9 months, I'd known that it was going to come soon. It was still so painful. Knowing it was coming made some things easier, and some things much harder.

It's been 10 years and I'm still not "over it." For a year or so after his death, I'd often forget he was dead. This was a common theme of my dreams for a couple of years, and still comes up every few months (I have a different understanding of ghost stories since he died). If he were still alive, he'd have grandchildren now, and it's hard to think of my nephews without also thinking of my father.

My father-in-law had his mother die a year ago. After the memorial gathering we held for her we were sitting around talking about how nice it had been when he stopped short and the tears welled. He'd just been thinking that he had to go call his mother and tell her about the gathering.

I like Occiblu's thoughts on how to start talking to friends and family about this. Sometimes I still need to talk about my dad.
posted by Good Brain at 3:05 PM on December 11, 2006

very sorry for you loss.
posted by nola at 3:07 PM on December 11, 2006

All of what you are feeling is very normal after losing a parent- it is an incredibly hard thing to go through. I'm sure the people who are saying you should have expected it mean well, but really just ignore them, their comments aren't helpful.

My father passed away in August, I am just now starting to feel back to myself a bit. The first few weeks I relived his last breaths over and over again (I was holding his hand as he passed away). After a month or so I started really mourning the loss of him from my life. There were moments where I cried harder than I thought possible and moments of pure rage. I was very fragile in those first months and really had a hard time dealing with just getting up and going through my day. Working in a very supportive environment helped, as did following a regular schedule so, at least part of my day was planned out for me.

Based on this question and your question from last week it seems like you are someone who likes to take care of others. For better or worse your brother and father are going to deal with things in their own way. Please try to focus on taking care of yourself as much as possible. Find the friends who you can really be honest with about how you are feeling. Find a support group that you can go to so you can talk to other people dealing with grief. Above all give yourself time.
posted by a22lamia at 3:08 PM on December 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sorry for your loss.

Perhaps I can offer my own anecdote, coping methodology as some loose advise for you. When I lost my dad two things helped me immensely.

1. I played the mantra in my head that he HAD to pass away some time. Yes, it was totally ill-timed that he did so when he did, and I used the +ve effects of his passing away to make it easier (i.e. he didn't suffer, he didn't have to see me struggling, etc...). I also used the notion that of the two of us, I'd rather I suffer his loss than the opposite way around. It helped me a lot to think of things in these terms and I sincerely belive it made me bounce-back quicker.

2. I'm very much a "I need a plan" sort of person. When my dad died I spent 3ish months barely getting out of bed, thinking about it all the time until one day it hit me that he had done so much for his family, his work and his life and it was up to me to make sure it didn't all go to pot. The words I still use to this day are "achieve what he sacrificed his world to achieve". And that STILL gives me strength

These are personal experiences but the general gist is that suffer the loss, try and see things +vely and that having a general loose plan of action might help with the grieving and also towards picking yourself up.

Good luck
posted by gadha at 3:09 PM on December 11, 2006 [3 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by LoriFLA at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm so sorry for your loss. My mother died when I was 20. That was a long time ago, and I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes thinking about it.

First of all, know this: It will get better. You will begin to feel again, begin to feel happy again. You will be sad at times, but the grief will be integrated with your joys and all your other emotions. This is the shape of your life. Your mother's life and (to a much lesser extent) her death will be with you always.
posted by PlusDistance at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2006

My mom died ten years ago, six months after being diagnosed with cancer. I was her caretaker. I was not "ready" when she died. I still want her back.

The numbness is normal. My dad had died earlier that year, and I'm an only child, so it was just me, dealing. I was a zombie for...a while. I don't remember exactly - there are several months after she died that I really don't remember. Sometimes, when I really wanted to cry (but couldn't), I'd watch a sad movie, or look at pictures of her, or read letters she'd written me. It helped to know that I could trigger the crying, if I needed to. (And random things were triggers - like, one day, I was shopping for cat food for her cats who I adopted, and I completely lost it in the cat food aisle. It was weird and awful but strangely liberating.)

Do talk to your friends, and if you're on good terms with any of them, your friends' parents. Your dad probably isn't up to being very dadly right now, so search out that parental energy. I was older than you when it happened to me, but I still "adopted" the parents of a close friend of mine - and they kind of "adopted" me right back, and it helped, even if we didn't really talk about my mom. It was enough to know that parent-type people were looking out for me.

Keep in mind too that the friends and relatives who seem to have moved on may be in the same place you are - Numbsville - or they may be unsure of how to approach you or talk to you or comfort you. Our culture isn't very good at helping the bereaved; we don't know what to do or say, or how to act. It's hard, but do your best to reach out to some of them, and ask for what you need: a hug, a cry session, talking about your mom, what-have-you.

I'm so very very sorry for your loss.

(oh - and anyone who says you should have been "ready" can be cut from your xmas card list, and disinvited from any parties, and really, you never have to talk to them again if you don't want to.)
posted by rtha at 3:25 PM on December 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Spend some time at the library, perhaps? No matter how prepared you think that you are, you're usually never really ready for an event like this.

What you're feeling now and what you're going to feel later are normal. The stages of grief are perfectly normal reactions to a traumatic event. If you feel like you're going to cry, then cry. It sounds like you're passing through the "bargaining" stage of it now. This is ok.

Talk to people, if you feel that you're ready. Draw pictures and file them away. Organize old photographs and fondly remember good times. Write letters to your mother and tell her what she meant to you.

Keep an eye on your father. If your parents were still married, the issue of the estate shouldn't be too big of an issue, but be prepared for nastiness revolving around money to be a potential issue. My father died in 1993 and his estate is still tied up in probate court. The bloodsucking fucking lawyers have soaked up nearly everything from it over the years, along with nasty people from his first marriage. My case is unusual - hopefully you won't have to deal with any of this.
Having my dad die when I was 18 threw my entire life into a tailspin. I had *just* moved back to America after living overseas for many years, and I had just started college. His death ended that, and it took me years to get over everything and clean up the mistakes that I made.

Try to not get into any negative patterns. And the first anniversary of her death may not be the worst - it's often the second anniversary that's the hardest.
posted by drstein at 3:28 PM on December 11, 2006

Liquorice - you are very brave. You will be ok eventually - I was.

My mother died when I was 14 and my nan a couple of years ago. Both these losses were devastating in their own way.

Being prepared does not come into it...my mother had been suffering with cancer for three years and my nan was old and her health had deteriorated for some time.

I was an adult when my nan died but I still felt absolutely lost without her - and we had been living in different countries for 5 years at that point!

Until last week you only knew a universe with your mom in it. Now that reality has been destroyed and you have not yet had an opportunity to build your new reality. Think of a brick wall - the foundation was your mother's presence in your life. That foundation is gone and the wall collapsed. It takes time to build a new wall.

Build it well - and let your father and brother build their own walls.

Thinking of you!
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:30 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm very sorry for your loss. Indeed, fuck cancer, and fuck death. My mom died when I was 14 and one thing that gives me a small bit of comfort is that thousands of the smartest people in the world are working on curing cancer and extending life. There are even a few dreamers working on defeating death itself.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:44 PM on December 11, 2006

Please, dear one, remember that your mind, body and heart have been massively influenced by an American culture that is constantly running a search-and-destroy campaign against grief, loss and sadness.

Not only are you bearing the honorable burden of true loss, you are also bearing the pressure of being in a "tribe" that literally punishes sadness. You now know great loss, and that sets you against our hurry-up-and-feel-better marketplace culture.

But you're in good company "here". Your grief -- or numbness -- is beautiful, welcome and needed on this planet. Take your time. Be as numb as you need for as long as you need.

And when your body tells you it's time to wail, praise your mum with the exhausting dance of grief: In some cultures, "praise" and "grief" are the same word.

Strength to you.
posted by Moistener at 3:46 PM on December 11, 2006 [3 favorites]

People have told me I should have been more prepared for it.

I don't know how to help you, but anyone that tells you this is at least partially crazy. No child or young adult can really prepare to lose their parent. In this regard, they are the ones that have something wrong with them, not you. Do not compound your grief by thinking that there is something wrong with you.
posted by milarepa at 3:47 PM on December 11, 2006

Friends and family have been great, but I don't feel comfortable talking to them about this stuff and they all seem to have moved on since the funeral.

This made me sadder in some ways than the rest of your post. When my grandfather (who was like a father to me) died, I felt much the same about the way most of my family reacted. I was really mad at them for a really long time, because I thought that his death wasn't important to them.

I was really wrong -- it turns out that people deal with death very differently, and in my experience they (including I) don't want to intrude on others when they're going through a loss like you have.

I would say don't be afraid to talk to friends, and especially family. They will probably be much more helpful to you than you might think at first, and might not have moved on as much as you think. I would imagine at least some of them would be glad to have someone to talk to about the whole thing.

And I also am sorry abuot your loss.
posted by illovich at 3:59 PM on December 11, 2006

Went through pretty much the same thing a few years ago when my mother died. I was about 16... I was basically numb for about 4 or 5 months, a lot of that time I don't even remember now. Take all the time you need, and don't be afraid to ask people to cut you a little slack if you're having a hard time with things.
posted by shanevsevil at 4:11 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm very sorry for your loss.
posted by scoria at 4:18 PM on December 11, 2006

Best answer: Ask for help. When my mother died four years ago, I was afraid to be a burden on people, and I think I suffered more because I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about it. I was afraid of being vulnerable, afraid to be perceived as "not fun," so I stayed quiet when I really wanted to talk. Even now, I catch myself sometimes being afraid to tell stories about my mother because I don't want to remind people that I'm the poor, pitiable girl with the dead mom. I'm working hard to get over that.

Your family may be feeling the same way, and they may respond positively to attempts to bring them into more active grieving as a family. They may also tell you that they don't need to talk about it or that you're being melodramatic. Both of those reactions are responses to their own grief and are mostly unrelated to the actual appropriateness of your actions. If you want to talk about it, talk about it; many people will surprise you with their willingness to listen and help. Don't let your family or anyone else convince you not to do whatever you need to do to get through this. Your reaction, no matter what it may be, is entirely appropriate, even if it's different from everyone else's reactions.

I kept a diary in the months after my mother's death. I wrote her a lot of letters filled with all of the things I wanted to say to her and questions I wanted to ask her. I wrote about things that made me think of her and imagined her reactions to things that were going on in my life. It made me feel close to her and helped me keep going with my life.

I also second the recommendation of Hope Edelman's book, Motherless Daughters. Nothing will make it better, but it will help you feel less alone. Just reading this thread, about all the people who have lost their moms, has made me feel less alone. I hope that some of this helps you.

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by decathecting at 4:30 PM on December 11, 2006 [2 favorites]

oh, liquorice. I remember your last post about your mom - I'm so sorry to hear she's passed.

I don't have much to offer by way of advice, and there are already some fantastic stories here from the other posters. For what it's worth, I had a friend who died suddenly a few years back - an utter shock, and I was completely surprised by the depth of loss I felt afterwards. Like you, I was frustrated and angry after the funeral when our mutual friends didn't want to talk about her, and seemed to have moved on already, or forgotten about the grieving process. I thought that left me with no one to reach out to. But I found that there were other people I was able to lean on or talk to about her that I'd never expected to become friends or sources of strength. One of them, in fact, was someone I had only spoken to once before the funeral, but we found ourselves emailing and sending cards, being little lights of support for each other. I was very hurt that the other friends I wanted to reach out to weren't really there for me, but to find these other people was a real blessing.

Long story short: sometimes you find strength in people and places you didn't expect to find it in. I hope this can be true for you, as well. And let yourself grieve for as long as you need to - there is no timeline for grief, no one way out of it, no "right way" to do it. Come through it in your own time, in your own way.

And do continue to reach out to your father and brother. They're struggling in their own ways.

Take care.
posted by AthenaPolias at 4:33 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm sorry to hear your story. I have been through this myself - my father - and it really doesn't matter when or how, if the love was there then the loss is very hard.

Remember to be gentle with yourself. And, as you go through this, if you think of something you need to do to help get yourself through this process, have the courage to do it.

You're in my thoughts.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:44 PM on December 11, 2006

I think that a lot of times, when people respond wrenching or traumatic events in another person's life by talking about what they could have or should have done, what they're really trying to do is reassure themselves. These people need to believe that, in similar circumstances, they'd be able to plan or scheme or prepare in a way that would allow them to dodge the hearbreak. They can't bear the thought of having to hurt that much. Simply put, it's bullshit. It's bullshit born of normal human frailty, but it's bullshit nonetheless.

All you can do now is take care of yourself and give yourself time. Don't resist the grieving process. Exercise if you can, and remember to eat-- you'll be tempted to skip it, and that will make everything worse. If you want to take care of the rest of your family, cooking wouldin't be a bad way to do it.

It may be a while before your dad and your brother are ready to talk. If that's the case, there won't be much you can do about it. Reach out to friends, teachers, and other relatives. A lot of people feel awkward in the face of something as enormous as a parent's death. The rituals of wakes and funerals give folks a structure for consoling and expressing concern. Outside the ritual, people often feel lost. Some may even withdraw a little, not wanting to intrude on your grief. Don't mistake this for "moving on," and don't be afraid to to let the people who love you know that you still need them.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:51 PM on December 11, 2006

I think that a lot of times, when people respond to wrenching or traumatic events in another person's life by talking about what they could have or should have done, what they're really trying to do is reassure themselves. These people need to believe that, in similar circumstances, they'd be able to plan or scheme or prepare in a way that would allow them to dodge the hearbreak. They can't bear the thought of having to hurt that much.

This is very true and wise. Don't be mad at those people, just ignore the futile attempts at reassurance and be glad you have people who care about you. Like everyone else says, you're never ready. My mom had heart problems all her life, and had her first open-heart surgery when I was nine; she had two more operations over the years, and each time we were terrified and as prepared as one can be for the worst. She came through each one, and I was over forty when she died, and it still hit me like a ton of bricks, and I still miss her, and I keep wishing she and my wife could get to know each other. Be glad you knew her as long as you did, keep her spirit alive in you, and don't expect the pain to go away completely, because it won't. You will, however, find that little by little you're able to get through the days with less anguish, and eventually that entire hours go by when you're not thinking about her. Don't feel guilty about that; it's part of life and healing. In the meantime, do whatever you find helps you, and feel free to write if you need to vent.
posted by languagehat at 5:09 PM on December 11, 2006

My Dad passed away in August. It took me a couple of months before I could cry about it. I still haven't erased his number from my phone. Things just seem to happen in their own time. It's been a different timeline from the rest of my family, but that's okay. There isn't a wrong way to grieve. Take care of your body. Be gentle with yourself, and don't be afraid to ask others to do the same.

Life for a few months reminded me of a hike I took when I didn't bring enough water. I was a few miles from the end of the trail and couldn't fathom being able to walk those miles. But I knew that I could take one more step. I just kept taking that one more step until I made it to the end of the trail.

Peace to you.
posted by kamikazegopher at 5:19 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'll keep you in my thoughts.
posted by jerseygirl at 5:40 PM on December 11, 2006

Moistener said it, beautifully.

Grief is painful, hard work. But it is also testament of your love for your mom. Grieve as much as you need to, in whatever way you need to.

My grandfather died 17 years ago, I was 13. In my early 20s, my grieving included me going to his grave and yelling at him for dying. I was so mad at him! Once an elderly woman approached me, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "I do the same thing to my husband. He's over there. I'm so mad at him for dying!" I felt so validated and so NOT alone. You are not alone, liquorice.

He's been dead longer than I knew him. For me, grief and his death have been like having an open wound, that over time became a scar. The grief is still there, I can see it and touch it. I still cry, sometimes bitterly, but the grief does not consume my minutes, hours, days anymore. It does get better, I promise.

I will keep you in my thoughts. Please email if you need to.
posted by luminous phenomena at 5:45 PM on December 11, 2006 [2 favorites]

I am so, so sorry for your loss. It is a tremendous loss, and it will take you some time to even begin to be able to cope.

You will cope, and you will survive, and you will go on, but this is all information that is very difficult to take in right now. When people say this to you, just file it away in the "I know this is true, even if I can't accept it right now" part of your brain. They are saying this because they want to be helpful to you.

Anyone who tells you that you should be moving on, handling this a certain way, don't listen to them. There is not a certain way that you should be dealing with this. There is no way to go through pain like this and not suffer. If people tell you, directly or indirectly, that you shouldn't be suffering, or that you're suffering wrong, then they have absolutely no bleeding idea what they're talking about, and should be ignored.

In the coming weeks and months, you are going to develop an uncanny ability to know whether or not a person has lost someone close, based on how they relate to you in this difficult time. People who have not experienced anything like what you're going through are going to not know what to say. They will feel awkward and you may feel some of that awkwardness. That's okay.

People who have lost someone close? They will tell you that they're very sorry for your loss. They may give you a big hug.

I recently lost someone close to me, on October 27, and I learned that there is this big sad club that is composed of many, many people on this earth -- people who have lost someone close to them. We know what you're going through. We are sorry that you have to go through this. Reach out to us and we'll do what we can to help you. It's a big club.

God bless, and may you know no more sorrow in your life.
posted by jennyjenny at 5:50 PM on December 11, 2006 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry for your loss. It sucks. I lost my significant other almost 2 years ago now. Nothing like a mother, but it was the first loss that I ever had to deal with.

You might want to try talking to some friends and family. They may not have moved on as you think, but don't want to bring it up around you. They may be trying to not make you feel worse.

No one is ever prepared for death. Don't listen to them. Also, don't listen to anyone who tells you that you shouldn't cry because you should be strong. It's b/s. (people say the strangest things to try to calm you) Cry if you want, scream if you want. I tried being strong and not letting it get to me, and it only lasted longer. Do what feels right. Trying making art. Or a memorial for your mother. When my s/o died, we set up a little altar to him, with pictures, and art that my friends and I made.

If you follow a spiritual path, try talking to a priest (minister, rabbi, etc) about it. I spoke to many priests of different religions to find out their version of the afterlife.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss. Please remember to take care of yourself.
posted by Attackpanda at 5:51 PM on December 11, 2006

I am so very sorry for your loss. I honestly cannot believe anyone would tell you that you should have been "prepared" for this. That is quite possibly the most retarded and insensitive thing I have ever heard. My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 2 and my brother was 10. For the next 7 years she battled it, in and out of hospitals, doing well, then bad, then well again, then bad again, until the cancer finally took over. We had 7 years to prepare for her death, but were we prepared? You're never prepared to lose your mother, or your wife, or your child, or your friend. Never.

The circumstances are different for you, as you are old enough to have really known your mother and old enough to understand the impact this has on your life and your loved ones. Still, I very strongly suggest talking to a counselor for the next few months. It is really hard to talk to your family about losing a loved one when you are feeling fragile, because they are not feeling strong either. Friends may not know how to react, even those who have been in similar situations. Therapy is a safe place to really explore your feelings over the next few months...grieving is a long process (I truly don't think it ever really ends), so give yourself permission to grieve and take care of yourself.

My heart really goes out to you. I am so very sorry.
posted by tastybrains at 6:07 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm so sorry for your loss.

My once-beloved died just over a year ago, from terminal cancer. Even though he had been told how much time he had left, and lived beyond that, I still wasn't prepared when he went.

The thing I have come to accept is that there will never be a day I magically wake up and feel 'over' it. It just gets a little less raw every day. But I still cry for him once in a while. I still think about him in some way or want to tell him something every day. He'll come up in conversation and it feels odd. But it's not an open wound anymore.

My thoughts and strength to you right now. Be kind to yourself.
posted by loiseau at 6:23 PM on December 11, 2006

Oh - and I should add - something that helped me a lot was throwing myself into the cause that he cared about. In his case it was organ donation. Maybe researching ways to support breast cancer research would help you feel connected to your mom.
posted by loiseau at 6:25 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm so sorry.

I don't have much to add to the good advice already posted here, I just want to share one experience.

I was 15 when my Dad died. A few weeks later, my Mum took me and my sister from here (Canberra) to Stay with family in Chicago for a month.

The change of scenery and the activity really helped us get through that time. I have no idea if that's practical for you, but it helped my family.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:34 PM on December 11, 2006

I can't add anything to the excellent advice. All I can say is that I'm so very sorry for you, that nobody should have to deal with what you're dealing with at your age, and that you'll be in my thoughts.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:39 PM on December 11, 2006

all you can do is walk through the pain.
and cry alot.
very sorry.
posted by brandz at 7:18 PM on December 11, 2006

I'm so sorry for your loss liquorice.

My Mum passed away 2 years ago. I'm not sure that I am still able to deal with it well at all.

I found that most of the people around me are even still willing to work around how I'm feeling about it - which is a good relief. It is extra hard when you take on the worry of those others close to you - but everyone has to go at their own pace, and not everyone reacts in the same way. You are allowed to be a bit selfish at this point. Don't feel guilty about that.

As others have said there is no way you can be prepared for losing a parent. I found it helpful just to gloss over what people actually said and just accept that they were expressing sorrow and sympathy for you.

Hang in there honey.
posted by gomichild at 7:51 PM on December 11, 2006

i don't know if this is good advice, but it helped me when a friend died a few years ago. he was young, and to me, his illness and death seemed like a void in the very idea of fairness. that year i'd had a falling-out with an old roommate, that seemed like it was gonna be permanent- i loved her, but i was really mad at her. when our friend died, i decided to call my ex-roommate to make sure she knew about his funeral, and to offer her a ride if she wanted to come. while we were on the phone i apologized for our fight and we made up. now her friendship is one of the closest ones i have.

there was nothing good about our friend's death- but at least having re-established a friendship with someone else, i felt like i made something good happen- sort of in his honour. it didn't make up for it, but it helped a bit. so my advice is to see if there's anything good that can come out of this sad sad occurrence. if you can find ANYTHING good- hold it tight and take some comfort from it.

time will help, too... til then, the hive mind is sending you loving vibes. take care.
posted by twistofrhyme at 7:53 PM on December 11, 2006

16 when my mom died. Left my dad adrift, my older brother distant, my younger brother lost, and my 8 year old sister devastated. That sort of thing is not something you get over. It is something you work through. After 16 years we are still working through it. Find someone to talk to. Find a way to work through your grief. Do not put this off. It isn't worth wasting years of your life before you finally face the real issues that a loss like this causes in your life. I have seen it happen with my own family. Do not be afraid or ashamed to feel as you do - you have every right to feel what you feel.

It is the most difficult thing in the world to believe, but the pain will lessen, the hurt will ease, the anger (and do not be surprised if there is anger!) will fade, and you will be able to remember what made your mom special without it being a source of sadness or pain. We lose people, but they stay with us.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:05 PM on December 11, 2006

Best answer: My mother died of breast cancer when I was 10. My father had told me, months before that her condition was terminal.

I was angry at the hospital for letting her die. I was angry with people telling me she was with God – They said he took her from me for a reason. I thought, “What reason could be so important?” Most of all, I was angry with my mother for leaving and scared of my future without her.

To this day (I am now 22) my father and I have discussed my mother about a handful of times. He has never been interested in talking about her death, the memories we had as a family and his memories of her. I suggest making yourself available for your father, but you may have to accept that he always be reticent to connect with you, because of his emotionally closed past and his current drinking.

I spoke to no one about her death at the time, even my best friend. I made myself forget her to keep myself from the pain. I now know the only way for way to deal with death is to confront it.

Talk about her freely to anyone. Try to keep her memory alive in your brothers and father and do not let it be the “unmentionable” subject like it is in my family.

What is your first memory of her? the last memory? Make yourself relive the good and the bad. Look at all photographs and home movies you can get your hands on.

Take a day to pack her possessions preferably with the rest of your close family. Keep something of hers that reminds you of her and encourage them to do so. I chose to keep my mothers collection of vintage books. Each time I pick one up, I think of her.

I must also suggest you avoid all drugs (legal and illicit). This is not the time to numb your mind or body to reality.

Sorry for the length, writing this has been very therapeutic.
posted by janedoe at 8:33 PM on December 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

I wish I had something to add, and could do something more than just say "I am sorry for your loss".

I can't imagine ever being prepared for something like this. At this point I can't imagine life without a parent. They are a safety net that is always supposed to be there.

I wish you the best, and hope the amazing support you have received here will in someway contribute to your wellbeing.

My thoughts go out to you this evening.

Take care of yourself.
posted by SirStan at 8:41 PM on December 11, 2006

First off, I'm so sorry. As I think is clear by everyone else's comments, you certainly have our sympathy and condolences.

Whoever told you that you should have been prepared for your mother's death is just flat out wrong. I'm not sure anyone's ever prepared for the death of a parent, but given your age, and your closeness to her, there's absolutely no way anyone in your shoes could have been prepared. It's absolutely, positively normal to be feeling the way you're feeling.

I don't know how things work in Australia, but are you still in school? Does your school provide guidance counselors or something of the sort? If so, it's not a bad idea to talk to them. If not, I urge you to find someone to talk to; keeping your emotions bottled up inside isn't going to help anything.

Don't be afraid to reach out to family. I get the impression (although you don't say it, so I could be wrong) that you feel like you should be over it and don't want to burden them. It couldn't be further from the truth: it's entirely unreasonable that you--or the others in your family--should actually be over your mother's death in a week's time. If your brother and father aren't going to talk about it, it's probably a good idea to find someone who will, and I can't think of anyone better than another family member.

I'm sorry if this wasn't as helpful as I wish I could be, but I hope that, from all of our comments here, you'll at least take away that it's absolutely, positively normal for you to be feeling the way you are, and that we're all rooting for you here.
posted by fogster at 8:42 PM on December 11, 2006

Loss sucks terribly. I am so sorry for your loss.

Part of what is so painful is that you'll be find yourself living your life, for the moment "forgetting" that she died, and then you'll see something that'll remind you that she's passed on, and you'll experience that intrusion by reality as yet another awful grief moment.

There are no shortcuts, but talking helps. Rituals help. Feel free to grieve in your own way. I don't know if they have grief groups down there where you are, but if they do (ask the hospital or hospice social worker), I'd encourage you to check them out.

Also, your friends don't know what to do. They're scared to do or say the wrong thing, and your loss reminds them of the terrible truth that they'll have losses too. Try to forgive them for not knowing how to deal, but ask them for what you need.

You'll certainly be in our thoughts. Take care of yourself, and if it helps you, remember that by taking care of yourself, you're fulfilling your mom's best wishes for you.
posted by jasper411 at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2006

I can't add anything that hasn't already been said. My own experience in losing my father was to not listen to what other people said I should be feeling and should be doing. I took my time with it and came to grips with it on my own terms. It doesn't make it easier but it doesn't make it harder.

Time will make things less painful, if not easier. Do what feels right for you and if people tell you you're not mourning properly then don't be near them. There is no right or wrong, there is you in pain and trying to come to grips with a devastating loss.

Take care of yourself, do what you have to.
posted by fenriq at 9:02 PM on December 11, 2006

My condolences to you and your family.

My mother died of breast cancer eight years ago, almost to the day. I too knew it was coming, could see the day approaching, and still broke up when it happened. That's how it is - when someone you love dies, it's beyond all preparation and expectation. Don't blame your friends for saying stupid things though. They can't relate right now, and in their bumbling way they're trying to reach out.

You talk about feeling numb. One thing that happens is that when we reach a certain point of intensity, we can't feel any more - we are just overloaded. That's being numb. And then it recedes, and you recover some emotional capacity, and a little energy - and then you get the numbness/overload again. That's how it is, and that cycle can repeat, with diminishing intensity, for a long time. Let it, and don't worry about it. Eventually, you get over it. But you can't imagine that now, nor is there need to. It will happen by itself.

You'll get flashbacks over time. You'll be doing the dishes, or hanging out the washing, and you'll get a stab. Go with it. Your mum is saying hi, and you should think about her, and your memories of her, and then do the dishes and hang out the washing.

I wouldn't worry about your Dad drinking more at this point. Give him a while. But if you as a family can find constructive things to occupy yourselves with, go ahead.

they all seem to have moved on since the funeral. Well, it wasn't their mother, was it? And perhaps they're trying to act as though everything were normal in the belief this might help you. But whether they've moved on or not, of course you should talk to them, or ask them to hang out, or lean on them.

My best wishes to you. Be nice to yourself, and ask others to be nice to you too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:08 PM on December 11, 2006 [2 favorites]

I'm being told to learn how to cook by outer family members and look after my dad...I guess that's what being the "lady of the house" entails, right?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that's some rather unhelpful advice from those outer family members. Perhaps start by cooking together with your father and brother? It may help to do simple tasks together, and cooking is certainly a skill they'll need now more than ever. At 18, you can't be your mother for them, and shouldn't have to try.

My heart goes out to you. I know from experience that having only "extremely emotionally closed up" people around to share your grief is very hard. Just keep in mind that you're under no obligation to bury your own feelings just because they may decide to bury theirs.
posted by mediareport at 12:11 AM on December 12, 2006

I'm being told to learn how to cook by outer family members and look after my dad...I guess that's what being the "lady of the house" entails, right? But it's scary and I'm not ready for any of that yet.

Lady of the house? Give me a break. By all means do this if you want to keep busy, but this is a job for some tough and helpful relative, like maybe your great-aunt, or your mother's bachelor cousin Fred, not for an 18 year old girl. The culture is conscripting you as the nearest available female to do the emotional labour for the men. You are not obliged to comply.

(oh yeah, your friends? I forget they're all 18 too. They don't have the life experience to know what to do or say, so cut them slack and don't take what they say seriously).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:04 AM on December 12, 2006

Best answer: I'm very sorry for your loss.

(I am. But don't worry if you get sick of hearing that. I did after about a week and actually began longing for someone to say something horrible to me just so it wasn't the endless sympathy.)

I was 20 when my mum died in June 2005 of secondary liver cancer (unknown primary). There's some really excellent advice here. I think one of the biggest things is to not worry about being a burden on people. Your friends probably won't know what to say, but they're probably desperate to help - you might think they've "moved on" but they're probably just agonising about what to do. Please let them help you. I remember the little things people did for me after my mum died, like a neighbour doing our shopping for us. Maybe there's something you really can't face doing, like going through her things or maybe even household chores, that they could help you with. I think they'd jump at the chance to do something practical. Or you could just explain your feelings to them; this could really help bind you together. And if something similar happens to them, you can be there for them.

Forget what other people tell you what to do. If there's any advice here (including mine) that makes you feel uncomfortable or guilty, ignore it. I was told to do all sorts of things after my mother died by well-meaning relatives (it's just me and my dad now), stuff that made absolutely no sense. Learn to drive, for example. I'm sorry? What possible connection does that have to my mother's death? Same with their advice for you to learn to cook. People like to imagine what they'd do in your situation, but THEY'RE NOT YOU. I know this is a somewhat obvious point, but don't forget it. Don't let anyone guilt-trip you or make you feel like you're doing things in a nonstandard way. There is no standard. Do what you feel is right. You might feel some things you feel guilty for feeling - I felt relief after my mum died, just because it was all over. I found a good book was You'll Get Over It by Virginia Ironside, which honestly talks about the experience of bereavement. But don't get it just because I said so.

As for your family - don't be afraid to talk about your loss in front of them, unless they really don't want to hear it. It certainly made me feel better to discuss my mum with my dad; just little things like "she would have loved/hated this [television programme/music/thing we're doing]". You will get there in the end with learning how to do stuff. It's a steep learning curve, and one you shouldn't have had to face at this point. Try not to be frustrated with yourself. It will come. Ask for help from someone you know who is good at cooking/cleaning/etc. I'm sure they'd love to be useful.

It's a cliche, but I'm sure your mother would be pleased you're trying to carry on with things the best you can. It's eighteen months now for me and I still miss her every day. It doesn't get any easier, it's just that you adjust and begin to cope, bit by bit. I can assure you it will happen. It's just that it won't happen overnight. Just give it time and don't be afraid to lean on others.
posted by terrynutkins at 1:42 AM on December 12, 2006

liquorice, my mom died almost one year ago, on January 12th.

For many many months I had trouble believing I would never see her again. To this day, I still have dreams about her. In my dreams she's young, and healthy, and vital again.

Echoing what jennyjenny said earlier in the thread, some folks I barely knew who'd been through what I was going through helped me a great deal; others, whom I was close to and really needed, weren't there for me. I tried hard not to be angry with them. They didn't have any inkling of what it was like, and it was frightening to them.

My brother dealt, and has still been dealing, with this by expressing a lot of anger. I've tried to help him get past the anger and move on to love and happy memories of her, but people do it in their own ways. There is no right way to grieve.

The most important thing you can do now is care for yourself. I lost a great deal of weight in the two weeks leading up to my mom's death, and I was light to start. I still haven't put all the lost weight back on. If not for those folks I mentioned who cared for me immediately afterwards, I might have followed my mom. So make sure you eat. Your mom would want you to take care of yourself.

You'll still have a relationship with her, you'll still talk to her. The only difference is, she won't be able to answer back; but the relationship is on-going.

I'm very sorry, liquorice. You're very young to have lost your mom. I was 40, and even then it was devastating. This isn't something you are ever really prepared for.

My heart goes out to you. If you want to or need to, you can email me, my email is in my profile.

Please take care of yourself, and know that, wherever your mom is now, she loves you. She always will.
posted by seancake at 2:04 AM on December 12, 2006

I posed a similar question last year when my boyfriend died suddenly, and the help and support I got overwhelmed me. All I can do is direct you to the questions I asked and the replies I was given, there are so many of them to extract the most useful components.

I am really sorry for your loss. Email is in my profile, if you want to email me privately.
posted by essexjan at 4:29 AM on December 12, 2006

dear liquorice:


i am so very sorry for your loss. you've already seen above how many others, so many who never knew you or your mom, are also so genuinely sorry to hear of your loss. each of us hopes this brings you some comfort during this difficult time.

so much of what is written above is just excellent. i wanted to point out a particularly brilliant bit from jennyjenny, who wrote that

In the coming weeks and months, you are going to develop an uncanny ability to know whether or not a person has lost someone close, based on how they relate to you in this difficult time. People who have not experienced anything like what you're going through are going to not know what to say. They will feel awkward and you may feel some of that awkwardness. That's okay.

People who have lost someone close? They will tell you that they're very sorry for your loss. They may give you a big hug.

i lost my dad in 1999, quite suddenly, to a previously undiagnosed cancer. i used good ways and bad ways to get through my grief. i did counseling, i did self-medication, i talked alot and i talked to no one. but i got through. and as horrible as you feel right now, i believe that you'll get through too. but it also helped me to learn firsthand what jennyjenny wrote to you above.

and it also helped to know that grief has a physical manifestation, as well. you wrote that:

So here I am, less than a week on and I'm numb. And all I can feel is...nothing. I don't know what to do. My father has hit the bottle pretty hard, although he claims it's just a temporary soution.

please know that it's totally healthy to feel numb now. and that it's a real, physical feeling. i felt like my legs were quite literally made of lead after my dad died. i felt like i'd suddenly added about 50 kilos of weight. true, part of one of my coping mechanisms did cause me to add a lot of weight, but the physical sensation of heaviness and numbness was way out of proportion to the weight i put on.

and i got better, eventually. you will too. it takes time, it takes a lot of crying, and it takes knowing and remembering that people care. and that they've survived this too. one day you'll be approached by someone with a similar loss, and even though you'll have gone through it, you won't really know what else to say except "i'm sorry for your loss." and that'll be okay, too.

in time, you may take some comfort in acknowledging that, as crappy as it is, it's the way it should be, in the final analysis. as much as we miss our parents after they die, it's always better for parents to pre-decease their children. the other option, for children to die first, is even more horrible. but do not rush to acknowledge this. know that this discovery is waiting for you, like the rest of your life is waiting for you, even still. take your time to grieve, on your schedule, and as best fits you. and don't forget how many folks are truly sorry for your loss, and can really empathize with your loss. you may be isolated, but you're not alone, liquorice.
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:59 AM on December 12, 2006


please don't pay attention to all those people who are telling you what you should be feeling or doing. What you feel or do is none of their concern. If you want to laugh, cry, rant, run, cook, use pillow as punchbag or whatever else it might be do it - but not because some distant relation expects you to.

Your father seems to be having a hard time of it. You can help each other in more ways than talking about your mother. You could literally help each other. If he really cannot cook he will have to learn. If you can and he cannot you might do it together. As a family that cannot talk right now you may be able to do.

Thinking of you, liquorice.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:12 PM on December 12, 2006

I am sorry for your loss, liquorice, you are in my thoughts.

You got a lot of good advice upthread but nthing the main one: what you can do is not listen to anyone who says you should or shouldn't be feeling "this" way or you should or shouldn't be doing "that" that way. You have to do what's right for you. I really like the idea of writing - write about your mom, write to your mom, just rant and rave as you see fit. I think, since your father and brother are going through their own thing, this will be your best outlet for your grief. You also have a lot of shoulders here to lean on, take advantage of that.

And at the risk of adding a downer: the pain never, ever goes away; you simply learn to bear it.
posted by deborah at 4:35 PM on December 12, 2006

Hi liquorice,

Please accept my sympathies.

My son died unexpectedly Thanksgiving night. It's been a terrible shock for all who knew him.

Tonight, I went to my first 'grief group' session. It was hard and I'm awfully raw; and, it was most likely a useful thing to do.

The group was free and is run by some local organization I'm not really acquainted with. I don't know, but you might find something similar you can get started with until "uni starts up again."

If you help yourself in the best way you can, maybe that's how you can best help those around you like your father and brother.

I don't know what 'helps,' really; but, something seemed ok about being with other people who were gathered for this purpose. It hurts me just to reach out for help now. But there's nothing else I know about to do.
posted by taosbat at 7:45 PM on December 12, 2006

taosbat, I'm sorry about your son, too. I hope the group helps you.
posted by occhiblu at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2006

Late to this, but wanted to say thank you, liquorice. I have been feeling kind of resentful about working so hard and having to get yet another Christmas up and running for my kids. Your post woke me up. I'm going to call the kids and tell them how much I am looking forward to the holidays.

I'm a 3x breast cancer survivor, four years out from last dx, feeling great ... and sometimes, even, forgetting to take a sec and remember to relish the 'hassle' of Christmas. Thank you again, I'm so sorry for your loss, and my thoughts are with you.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:25 AM on December 13, 2006

Been there, done that. I am weeping for you as I type this.

I was well up in my 30s, everybody knew Mom's death was coming, and it was still a very hard transition. It's been over eight years and it's still hard at times. (And that's almost early middle age -- you're still in your late teens.) As I grew into an autonomous adult, Mom turned out to be my best friend -- we got each other's jokes, finished each other's sentences at times. She didn't go easily or peacefully, and she had to lean on me a bit at times -- which was, as they say in certain circles, waaaaay above my pay grade.

I wish I hadn't had to grapple with the aftermath alone. (My eventually-to-be-ex was emotionally just not there for any of this -- nor for Dad's passing 10 months later. And now, perforce, when her own 'rents pass, I won't be in a position to help her much despite having BTDT.) I stupidly isolated myself and tried to tough it out, then wound up hospitalized with a breakdown for two weeks the following winter.

Please learn from Pax Digita's mistake:

Do you have anybody to talk to? Clergy? Trusted friends, preferably older ones who've lost 'rents? Friends' parents you hold in high regard? A guidance counselor or a teacher you respect at high school? Go to 'em. Just print out the top of this thread and make 'em read it, then look 'em in the eye and in a quiet voice, add...."Help." No $hit. Really.

And meanwhile, if there's mundane stuff you've been putting off, especially if it keeps your hands busy and your bod moving, now is the time to be doing it. Even if it's just cleaning the house. Do not sit still and think any more than you can help. But that's an adjunct to the above: Reach out and ask for help with this.

I like the diary idea. Try that. Stick with it up to the anniversary of her passing.

I have to go. Please let Matthowie or Jessamyn know if you want to reach me via email and I'll make myself available for you. I will be praying for you.
posted by pax digita at 1:07 PM on December 13, 2006

taosbat, I am so sorry.
posted by jennyjenny at 6:21 AM on December 14, 2006

I don't know if you're still checking in, Liquorice, but I just wanted to say I was thinking about you and hoping you're doing OK.
posted by loiseau at 3:04 PM on December 19, 2006

second that. how are you, darlin'?
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:00 PM on December 26, 2006

Lost my Mom today. This thread was the first search result. Thanks to everyone who shared.

Thank you Metafilter. XOXO
posted by HyperBlue at 9:34 PM on February 26, 2007

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