Pictured at the Villa d'Este at Villa Adriana, Tivoli, Italy, Alabama, United States
December 19
Founder, Director
Retired Medical/Pharmaceutical industry. Founder and Director Non-profit, CSG, Advocate. Veteran's rights; Veteran U.S. Navy.


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JULY 16, 2012 2:05PM

Grief: Something You Get Through, Not Over

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The death of a loved one is always painful. We all know that. What’s the worst kind of loss? A sudden death, such as a heart attack, auto accident; or watching a loved one suffer a long painful illness?

The worst kind of loss is our own. It’s Mine. It’s Yours. Today marks three years since my mother died. It was cathartic to write about her death in the past; during the early months of my grief. Three years. Is that long enough to “move on?” I have come a long way in the past three years, and have come to realize that the grief I feel from losing my mother isn’t something I will ever get over. But is something I will get through.

For quite a while after Mother’s death, I felt like a traveler who had misplaced my compass. Maybe that sounds strange, since I was 55 years old when she died. She was such a wise and virtuous woman. The only person I turned to for guidance, understanding - and most importantly, unconditional love. For quite a while after her death, I felt vacuous and lonely. I had a wonderful husband and others around me who love me, but it wasn’t the same.


 My mother and me (circa 1954)

In the early months of my grief, I didn’t want to go anywhere. In part, because I was afraid I would burst into tears in the supermarket. I would also get angry seeing people going about their business as though the world was the same.  It isn’t, it will never be.  One of the most incredible human beings who ever lived is gone forever. How could the earth continue on it’s axis?

I understand that one’s grief is so personal that you can’t share it.  I believe the level of grief you feel, and the emotions tied to that grief, are as individual and deep as the relationship you had with the loved one for whom you grieve.  It is a direct correlation to how much space in your heart and psyche the loved one occupied.  It is about adjusting to a “new normal”.  That hole in your heart is a large as the space that person filled.

Over the past three years, I have taken a new look at my mother and her life. Not just as my mother, but as a woman. Things about her that slipped by me during her life. I have gained a new perspective of the things she endured - and the things she doled out. She has taken her rightful place within me, not as a saint, a sage, or anything of the sort. She was a human being. An incredible, brave and wise woman.

That compass? I realize that it really was only misplaced, not lost. All the direction and moral values she instilled in me are forever with me. I will never have another mother, but I am forever grateful for the one I had. I can still hear her voice, smell her perfume, see her beautiful hazel eyes, and ponder the wisdom she bequeathed.

No pity party for me today; I will smile and be grateful for the 55 years I had her in my life.




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Sadness and loss are something all of us will face, and yet so few are equipped to deal with it. I turned to buddhism earlier in life to help me cope with the sudden death of my father- but really all the "deaths" big and small I had never been able to handle. Even now, 20 years later, I sometimes wish I could check in with him, but I don't grieve. I just try to see what I can through the eyes of a grown up, reflecting, and have found my relationship with him has changed, or improved, entirely on my own.
Thank you for this. I am still in the first year of mourning my mother. I am very grateful for the years I had her, and for the fact that after tumultous teenage and twenties relationship with her, we reconciled when I was in my thirties. She had dementia for nearly ten years, but I was able to spend a lot of time with her. I am sorry fo ryour loss, and I thank you for sharing this. Good to see you here. RRRR
Bernadine, This was your comment/s from my post on May 19, 2010. I read it early this morning as I reviewed my past posts regarding dealing with my mother's death. Thank you for your words then - and today.

Oh, Joy, I "favorited" you today, this was such a good post. I have been thinking about grief and loss a lot, though I have not suffered the loss of a parent as you have. I am so sorry for your loss, and I suspect you are right, that you will always miss her. No one else can feel your pain. One of the things I've learned observing my husband go through the grief of losing his parents is that I truly cannot help him go through it, as much as I want to. It's a lonely place to be. Godspeed, Joy. R for your enduring love of your mother

Bernadine Spitzsnogel
MAY 19, 2010 01:51 PM
We do not know the real world, what we know we construct, moment by moment in our brain which is a calculating mass of tissue in the dark encased in bone.

Each of us gets to know the other by piecing together many inputs over the years and constructing in our minds the appearance, the actions, the thoughts and the emotions of the other and when that other dies and ceases to exist it is the very painful business of grief to remain sane and eliminate the living image in our brain and something dynamic. I have gone through that with my parents, oneof my sons and now my wife who died recently. It takes about ten years for me to accept the reality as totally as can be managed and it is the death of that internal living image that is the pain.
A short comment for now to say it has been a decade this year since my mother died -- just now has the universe become fully familiar and comfortable again...back later : )
I loved the line about being angry about people going about their business as if the world hadn't changed. It's not just grief that can make you feel that way; any turmoil in your own life can make you resent everyone else's "normalcy."

My heart goes out to you, Joy.
You can grieve for someone who died physically or who is still alive but not who he/she used to be. I heard somewhere that "You don't get over it; you get used to it."
me too, after the wreck i made of my life after my
best friend, my mother's, demise..
in 2004..

" I have taken a new look at my mother and her life.
Not just as my mother, but as a woman.
Things about her that slipped by me during her life.
I have gained a new perspective of the things she endured - "

the biggest thing she endured was her husband, and me.

she endured me.

she is now safely a bit of a sinful saint in my head. i can talk to her forever. i can hear her. how? by accepting her.

and loving fullheart.

which is a bit difficult. but i try.
I can't even contemplate the loss of my mother. This year I had to and I couldn't handleit in any way shape or form. Sorry for your loss . You wrote about it beautifully Glad to see you back.
This is such a wonderful tribute to your dear mom. How blessed you are to have had her love, and she -- I have no doubt, felt the same about you.
That is about as long as I had my mom and I understand, I also love how you have grown with time and can remember happy memories too now.
Oh my. Three years is a long time. My mom who is 81 was hospitalized a week ago with a subural hematoma plus she has a blood disease. We lived (live, lived?) together. Me the single mom, her the widow. I thought I'd lost her for good just a few days ago, but she has rallied and doing well, all things considered. I feel in control but barely. Once she is gone, who will hold me up?
I can totally relate with this. I've been THROUGH it so many times./r
In one of Anne Tyler's books she said something to the effect that, once our parents are gone, no one's face ever lights up in the same way when we walk through a door.

I wish I had the exact quote, but my sister and I both recalled it when we lost our parents.

I'm glad you've found your compass.
Your compass was "only misplaced, not lost." I'm so glad you found it. Sure grief is personal but feelings are universal and what you've written will resonate with anyone who has loved and lost someone.
I am so sorry for your loss. Three months ago my friend lost her baby during labor. When her mother called to tell me the news, she asked, "What are we going to do?"

Link arms and plow through, I said. The only thing to do. I didn't think about it when I said that with such bravado that the plowing through of grief would be forever.
I met my grandfather once and I was 16 when died and he lived 50 miles away. About 20-25 years ago I was watching PBS with my Dad and this song came on and my dad who really talked about his dad and never cried, got very emmotional-

We were both puddles and I got the gift of missing my dad long before he was gone.