May 11, 2014 ~ On Grief, Mothers and Family
Thinking of the variety of “mother” stories out there prompts me to share my thoughts in an attempt to sort out the array of common experience. Anyone reading this will no doubt focus in on a sentence or phrase and think, “Wow! I totally feel this way!” and continue reading. Others may focus on a sentence and think, “What an ungrateful child! She should be ashamed!” and stop reading. Well, for the first readers I hope one finds a grain of truth or familiarity. For the second, be assured that I DO feel shame and guilt for my lack of appreciation and gratitude!
I know countless people who no longer have mother’s able to celebrate with them. Their mothers have passed away and are forever out of physical reach on this plane. And they miss them so – a deep, physical pain and longing. Often debilitating with no escape. Ever. Distraction and intellectual mindfulness of living in the moment and immersing oneself in the joys of day to day living. I know that grief. I spoke with a close friend who lost her mom to Alzheimer’s. Her mom lived for over a decade before succumbing to the disease, but she did not know my friend for over half of that time. The illness had effected the mother’s brain to the point she had no memories and was very anxious and fearful at all times. Who can say what lessons were learned by her mother and family’s long suffering. Even three decades after the physical death, four decades if the lack of awareness is counted, my friend still grieves.
Grief is not swayed by whether death is sudden and unexpected or the expected outcome following prolonged illness. Death is indiscriminate in regard to age, economic strata or by how many people the deceased is loved or hated. It just doesn’t matter.
There is another kind of grief. Grief over not winning the crap shoot and being born of and raised by a “Hallmark” mom. Wishing for a mother who is/was kind. Instead of one who may be inattentive. Selfish. Dependent. Irresponsible. Emotionally or physically abusive. Deceitful and manipulative. One who is a lover of drama and trouble. A lot of people have moms that Hallmark does not recognize on Mother’s Day with an appropriate message in a card.
I find such difficulty with the barrage of laudatory and celebratory messages out there – radio, print, television and social media touting great mothers. Encouraging all children to get on the Mother’s Day horse and ride to the nearest brunch, card/candy/florist shop. What is the percentage of children out there grieving on Mother’s Day. Still the recipients of all of the personal and commercial messages attempting to un-hear and un-see the hype. Struggling to be happy for all the people with living mothers being lavished with well-earned praise and adoration.
Mother’s is not the only day that causes me to cringe for those not able to be on board. Father’s, Grandparent’s, Sibling’s, Teacher’s, Secretary’s, Boss’s… The list continues to grow. So, I am not just picking on this holiday for mother’s. I am one, have one, and love many. I understand that we have our mothers to thank for our very lives on earth. Perhaps it would make more sense to push back against the hype a bit. And be more private and personal in our appreciation. After all, those who truly love us – those we truly in return – will feel this appreciation every day, right?