Laura & Mom

I Can’t Believe My Mother is Gone: Month 2

Laura & Mom It’s been a little more two months since my mother died. I’ve created an altar to her in my living room, but I find myself rushing past it without really seeing it, without actually stopping and looking or feeling its significance. Somehow, I just can’t. I think I’m open to the grief, but so far, in the first weeks of this journey of mother loss, I feel very little. The words, “My mother is dead,” come easily from my lips, but they haven’t reached my heart. They haven’t hit their target. It’s not real to me that she is really gone. Gone forever. Really dead, permanently dead.

When I think about my mother, I mostly feel relief. Relief that she is no longer suffering. Relief that I no longer spend my days worrying that she’ll forget she’s not supposed to walk, and that she’ll fall, that she’ll break her hip again, the same one or the other one. Relief that I no longer have to dread a phone call from Maple House that means racing to the ER, that we won’t have to face all the trauma that entails. Old demented people and the ER do no mix.

I am relieved that I no longer wake imagining my mother miserable and lingering, dying a horrible death in an understaffed nursing home. I’m relieved that she isn’t monopolizing all the space in my brain, that I no longer have to be obsessed with whether I’m making the right decisions or being the best daughter I can possibly be.

Yet whenever I see an old person with a walker or someone over 80 struggling to rise from a chair, I feel an ache. When I walk out of a great movie or a terrible one, I want to tell my mother about it. I miss the annoying immediacy of her critique of every film we ever saw together. She’d start ripping the movie apart the moment the credits started to roll.

But I feel much more distant from her death than I expected. I anticipated more tears, more anguish, and more obsessive thoughts. Mostly what I feel now is exhaustion-a bone-weary tiredness that dogs me. I am told this is what grief looks like, but isn’t grief the way I thought it would be.

A month ago, just four short weeks after my mother died, I had to make the decision whether to teach my classes this fall or take a sabbatical instead. I wasn’t sure whether I could handle stepping back into “being Laura Davis,” the author, the teacher, the mentor, the person who holds the space so others can write. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. But after I wrestled with the decision, I opted for teaching less, but teaching again.

It’s been a good decision. I love my students. I love the communities we create together. I love being moved by their stories and their words. Even in a time of disorientation and confusion, it feels good to still feel connected to my purpose. It’s nice to have a routine and a place to be.

And now, two months after I lost my mother forever, I am planning for the future-a retreat in Scotland next June and one in Vietnam the year after that. It feels good to dream of a time when I will once again travel and teach and take joy in the freedom of adventure. My mother was a traveler. And every time I left for a trip, even at the end when she had lost so much and needed me beside her, she always sent me off with a smile.

So I am starting to envision a future without her. I am imagining how my life might go on without the person who loomed largest no longer beside me. I am not the person I used to be, but a new me is generating inside of me, putting one foot in front of the other-one day, one week, one adventure at a time.

6 thoughts on “I Can’t Believe My Mother is Gone: Month 2”

  1. Hello,
    I lost my mother January 6, of 2019, it was so hard watching her go down over the past few months especially the last two months.
    I kept praying for her to get well but at the same time I was so afraid that she might have a heart attack or a stroke or something another and make it harder on her, but to my knowledge she didn’t. God took her so peacefully, which I am thankful.
    I really do miss her, I saw her every single day unless she was out of town at her sisters or something like that which was very seldom but I do look back and I wish there were things that I had did different. I guess everyone feels that way at times like this.
    I wish I had talked to her more got to know her better personally, but knowing that she trusted in God makes me feel so much better.
    I do really miss her, This is the 2nd month since she passed and when I think about it it seems like she’s been gone so much longer but then when I count the weeks it’s only been eight short weeks.
    I remember her as being so weak and fragile and looking at her and thinking I feel so sorry for her, she is solely depending on me and my sister to make all the decisions because she is unable to.
    I pray to God and trying my best to get closer to him , knowing that he is the only one that can actually get me through this and I do know that I will see her again one day in heaven.
    Now I see the neatness that she had about her she always wanted to clean up the house or put things in their place if she felt well, Now I find myself doing that same thing more so than before.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Tim

    1. Tim, I’m so sorry for your loss. The whole world shakes when our mothers are no more. It’ll be five years since my mother died this coming summer and I’m still processing the loss. Good luck on your healing journey of grief.

      In the spirit of healing,
      Laura

    2. Tim, Your memory of your Mom always tidying up her home touched me. My Mom passed away on Aug 6, 2017 at 84 years old. My Mom was the same way, her little home was always neat as a pin. It’s comforting to remember the little, everyday things about about her. I try to honor her by trying to do the same and to hopefully live my life well so that I can leave those comforting thoughts for my children when it becomes my turn to leave this world. These kinds of thoughts are what help me through my grief. I am also afraid that I won’t remember my mom’s voice or her laugh. I wrote all the funny little sayings she had in a journal. Now I just try to focus on making memories with my adult children because I used to mistakenly think I had so much more time with my Mom, but now I truly realize how fast my life is going. Blessings of happy memories to everyone who may be losing or have lost a Mom or Dad.

      1. Previously left a post but forgot to check the follow up comments by email box. Thank you all for sharing.

  2. Hello, I loss my mother Feb. 18, 2019. Your story is exactly how I feel. I couldn’t have explained my feelings any better than what you have. My mother and I were so close. I often wondered what it would be like to live without her. She was 84 when she passed. I still talk to her. I tell her how much I love and miss her. I take care of my dad. It’s heartbreaking to see the pain in his eyes knowing how he shared his whole being with someone for 53 yrs and now they’re gone.

    1. Dear Nicole,

      So sorry for your loss. You are on the beginning of a journey of grief. Interestingly, almost five years after my mother’s death, my relationship with her is very much alive. I wish you support and patience with your journey of loss. I’m so sorry.

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