Nothing prepared me for my mother’s death. Not weeks and months of watching her steady decline. Not praying or begging God to make things easier for all of us. Already wailing for an end to Mom’s suffering in the act of dying and ours in the pain of watching. I kept crying out to her inside myself in the words I had used when I was very young and depended on her for everything, “Mommy, where are you?” Judy Neadle, my mom, died in the early morning hours of July 29, 2012. I continued to cry out to her, “Mommy, where are you?” It doesn’t end when she does. People looked at me strange when I asked them, “I know Mom has passed away and normal people don’t ask this. But, where is she really?” It is said that grief, true gut wrenching grief, starts around the sixth month mark after their death. Nothing sets in right away when we experience a loss. Whether it is a loss of a beloved from death, loss of a relationship, a move, loss of a job and so on. The immediacy is cushioned by some form of space between what has happened and us.
Inexplicable really is the time when we are moving, taking action to whatever needs to be done in the moment, but when we look back on those first days and months none of us can imagine how we pulled it “together” to do anything more than pour milk. It is in these times, months after, that reality sets in. When reality sets in along with the holidays, we need so much support. I know I did. The once simple, meaningful times of putting up a tree, lighting the menorah or honoring the winter solstice now overwhelm us with the most basic, “Where is she?” Always followed by sadness that often can paralyze us and take away any concentration needed for any task ahead of us. My mind would try to convince me that Mom was in the heavens, somewhere in the Universe or simply free from her life here on earth watching me with a different kind of love. Over these years since Mom passed away, died, however we call it, I have written two books about life with her in it, offering experiences of untreated mental illness, untreated addiction and, unacknowledged grief. Funny and tragic we humans go about our lives thinking that we can carry on from these losses without emotional impact.
That is not possible. We either openly share everything that is in our hearts about the loss of our beloveds or hold it all inside taking our pain out on everyone around us. My hope, as a mental health professional, is to continue to offer support groups to those of us who choose to be together and, if need be, wail to the moon, “But, where is she really?!!”
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