Mothers are not perfect and neither are their children. Some mothers are confidants, others are critics. Some mothers maintain control even into their children’s adulthood, and others foster a sense of independence early on. Whatever your relationship with your mother, it is important to acknowledge your feelings and grieve what has been lost when your mother dies.
When you lose your mother, your loss hits on many levels. Here are a few of the losses you may be experiencing:
• Loss of Unconditional Love
A mother’s love is often tested, but rarely fails. So when a mother dies, the loss of unconditional love is often a loss that no one else can understand, much less fill.
• Loss of Identity
When a mother dies, we lose a piece of who we are. We lose the person whose story provides the beginning of our own, whose sense of self greatly impacts who we are.
• Loss of a Family Connector
Through phone conversations, visits, letters, e-mail, and social media, mothers frequently stay in touch with each child. When a mother dies, some families recognize this loss for what it is, and others wonder why they feel as if they have lost touch with siblings. We have to find new ways to remain family and remain connected to one another.
• Loss of Protection
There is a sense of security that accompanies the knowledge that even into adulthood, mothers look out for their children, and God help anyone who attempts harm. That shield of protection, both physical and emotional, is lost when a mother dies.
• Loss of Nurturing Touch
There is an intimacy between mother and child that makes human touch both natural and comforting and cannot be replicated. The death of a mother means we lose a mother’s hug and caress. We lose the complete physical acceptance that a mother can give.
• Loss of What Could Be
Not every mother/child relationship works perfectly, and when a relationship has been particularly difficult, a mother’s death means that the opportunity to make peace face-to-face is gone. That is a loss of another kind, the loss of a dream, of a hope that things could be better. It may feel like there are no more options, no more possibilities for closure, and that means accepting imperfection.
When we lose our mothers, we lose much that can’t be replaced. But we are also left with much to cherish—memories, unique personality traits and strengths, wisdom, and hopefully an example that can inspire us to offer nurturing love to those who remain in our lives. A mother’s love, after all, is never lost if it is passed on.
Excerpt from “Losing Your Mom” from CareNotes