Helping your surviving parent move on with life after the death of their spouse
To be perfectly honest, since my father’s passing a little over two months ago, I haven’t really grieved, because I’ve been so busy trying to manage and comfort my mother and her rollercoster of emotions. A year before my father, who was a chronically ill person, became gravely ill my mother wasn’t in a good place. We all knew it; we felt it, we spoke about it in hushed tones and even engaged my father and sought his advice about it. But life with all its duties, never-ending chores and having a mother who can be quite obstinate about reality and who has an even harder time admitting that her way of handling things is not always the right way- simply forced us all to sweep her problems under the rug. And really isn’t it just so much easier at times- to not have to deal with your adult parent’s idiosyncrasies, especially when your other parent is slowly dying right before your eyes.
It’s a complicated thing how the dynamics of your relationship with your parents shift as you both age- and since the death of my father, my relationship with my mother has become even stranger.
I want her to get out of bed, I want her to try and move forward, of course not ever to forget but to realize that until she can “join my father” she is still here with us and only 63 years old. We need her, her grandchildren need her- and yet- she is having such a difficult time letting go of what her life should’ve been, all the things her and my father planned to do, and I honestly don’t think she can even conceive of a future without him.
And in between her frequent emotional outbursts that vacillate between anger towards her kids for not doing enough to support her, and her uncontrollable sobbing breakdowns, I wonder if my father is privy to any of this. I never truly appreciated his ability to keep my mother and our little family unit from breaking apart at the seams. Sometimes I miss him so much it physically hurts.