Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MORE CONFESSIONS: My Mother's Double Whammy

Mom and Dad
     "You think we did the wrong thing!" she said.  "You think that we did something you didn't want us to do.  I can't do anything right with you!"
    "I can't to anything right with you, either!" I fired back.  "I can't say anything right to anyone!  I have to watch everything I say now.  Don't you understand?  I've lost the person I can be the most honest with!  He's gone and I have no one else.  He was the one I could fight with and still know that everything would be okay.  He was the one I could be completely honest with because he was the one who knew me...the real me!"

       I don't know why all of that occurred to me in that moment.  In fact, I don't even remember thinking it before I said it.  But the second those words were out of my mouth, I crumpled back into my breakfast-room chair in a big lump.

       And then I said something that inflicted instant hurt on my mother.

      "It's time for you to move back to your own house. I need to be alone."

      She gave me one hard, weepy look and left the room.  I could hear the sounds of packing going on in the basement guest room as she threw all of her stuff together.  I watched as she walked up the stairs with her bags, walked down the hall, and walked right out the front door without saying a word to me.

      It's hard to realize this when you're in the heat of battle, but we tend to lash out at the people closest to us when life hands us something we can't handle.  To everyone on the outside, I looked like I was behaving normally and progressing with life because that's what I let them see.  I couldn't afford to show my emotional hand to just anyone because then I ran the risk of them saying, "That woman is crazy and I'm better off without her."
That fight over nothing important had allowed me to let go, get angry, and finally yell at someone, someone safe, because deep down I knew that I would never lose my mother.  I knew that her love would force her to come back and never abandon me.  And I think there was a part of her that felt the same way.  She was scared and confused and didn't know her place in my life anymore, just as I didn't know my place in my own life.  I was irritated  that she got mad over something so trivial when, in those weeks right after Brad's death, I felt like I had earned a pass on anyone getting upset with me.  It didn't occur to me that I might have been her someone safe.  That she was letting her emotions go because she knew that in the end we would be okay.


1.   What has been one of the hardest moments for you as a parent, watching your child (and grandchildren) as they have tried to deal with Brad’s death?

There have been many hard moments.  Seeing Catherine at the hospital while we were waiting for the end of that chapter of our lives;  knowing that she was suffering, even when she said that she was fine when I would call to check on her; early on, listening to Haley say that she did not know why her eyes kept watering; hearing how Michael was the first to enter discussions at the children's therapy sessions; and hearing Sarah talk to Brad in the clouds were all difficult.

2.   Was there a moment where you thought Catherine had turned a corner in her grief?

      Seeing Catherine with her boyfriend at the time, Mike, at the hospital when he had his surgery made me feel that she could not handle any tough situation that came up.  I know that Mimi's (her grandmother's) situation while she was in the nursing home and her father's knee surgeries were difficult for her.


3.   Where did you find comfort as you tried to help everyone else?

      Our friends who listened and supported us were a tremendous source of comfort.  We are so lucky to have them all.

4.   Was there a moment when you worried that your relationship with Catherine would change?  Do you think it did?

      Of course, the day that I left her house after the weeks I had spent with her after the funeral, was hard.  I truly was afraid that we would not see her anymore.


5.   Was there something that someone did for you (or something someone said) as you worked through your own grief over losing a son-in-law that helped you?

     I will say that watching the kids at play when they go to Buffalo Creek (where Brad is buried) gives me comfort.  It is as though we can take a breath and say that even though we have the granite marker (with the correct date!) that will always be there, we can still laugh and enjoy life.

6.   Was there anything that surprised you about the book when you read it for the first time?

     I can't say that I was surprised at anything.  I am just glad that Catherine has felt the support of our family.  I think that this is sadly rare.

     Check out MORE CONFESSIONS: Be Patient and Listen
 to get a new perspective on supporting a friend through loss! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I so needed to hear these words from your Mom. It sounds silly to even say this but not once have I ever thought that not only were my parents grieving the loss of their son-in-law but they were and still are 7 years later grieving the loss of their daughter as they knew her then. Daughter BW (before widowhood) and daughter AW (after widowhood) are 2 completely different people. My AW relationship with my family has come a long way but there is still a lot of healing to do.
    Thank you so much for sharing your AW life with us all! You are a blessing to so many that have been thrown into a club we never wanted to join.