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Double Grief

People talk to me about grief. I spent over 20 years in hospice, so they know I’ve seen my share of pain and sorrow. I’ve always tried to be approachable whenever someone needs to talk about their loved one.

Recently, a sweet young woman approached me with a question regarding her mother, who has been told there is nothing else they can do for her. First, let me reiterate what I’ve written in a couple of my books—there may be nothing more that can be done medically for a patient, but there’s never a time when nothing more can be done to improve their comfort and quality of life. That’s one reason I love hospice as much as I do.

Losing a mother is hard. As my mom is fond of saying, “No one loves you like your mama.” I think that’s true. A mother’s love for her child is special, and unique. And no one else could love you that way. But the same is true of you. Who you are when you’re with your mom is probably different from who you are with other people—even your spouse or other family.

My mom and I share so much. We have our own language—one made from all our little private jokes and shared experiences. And I know I relate differently to her than to anyone else. Thankfully, I still have my mom. We still talk and laugh and have fun together. But if/when I lose her, I will also lose that part of me I am with only her.

That’s not true just with mothers. I think we adjust to the various close people in our lives—incorporating little differences that only the two of us share. That’s why anytime we grieve the loss of someone we love, we lose a little of ourselves. In this way, our grief is doubled. That’s why we can be grateful when we know our loved ones are in Heaven, but still so sad at their loss—because when they died, they took that part of us that belonged only to them.  We miss them. And we miss who we are with them.

Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. We will not grieve for eternity. Yes, time erases some of the intensity of our grief, but it never stops us from loving and missing that person. Yet, the Bible speaks of death as a temporary parting. One day there will be a reunion for believers in Jesus Christ—a glorious day surrounded by more love than our keenest imagination can invent. Oh, what a day that will be!

1 Comments

  1. BettyAnn

    Deborah,
    This is an excellent and valid point. The part of me that went with my mother left a hole in my heart – that, yes, with time has lost some of the intensity of the original pain ( as you pointed out), but the scar will always remain.
    There are days when that scar hurts more than other days. I know this is ‘normal’, but knowing that does not make it hurt less.

    And thank God, this is NOT the end of Mother’s and my relationship….I’m so looking forward to seeing her, hugging her, and telling her all the things I wish I’d had the good sense to tell her while she still walked this earth.

    As usual, this has turned out longer than I intended. Let me just say, I really thought your blog was super and ‘right on’ !

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