If you are like me, burying your Mom was the hardest thing you will ever have to do. Knowing that she is gone is still unimaginable and maybe the reality hasn't hit you yet no matter how long since she passed. First, I offer my condolences to you and know that I am not going to tell you "I know how you feel". I don't think that anyone realizes that they really don't, even if they have suffered losing their mother too. Everyone has different relationships with their mothers so everyone has to cope in their own way.
On the 22nd of June in 2000, my mother Carol Ann lost her battle with cancer and a piece of me died that day too. Being the oldest of 4 daughters I have been able to see how different people cope with losing their mom. With that said I have come to believe that no two people cope the same, even with the same mother and growing up in the same house. I can only hope this article will offer some insight and if it helps even one person, I will be grateful.
First be advised that there is no specific order in which to follow these "steps". This is simply because no two people cope in the same manner since no two people are alike.
Grief & Acceptance. This is a very hard step and everyone seems to want to be helpful and tell you what to do or how to feel and offers unsolicited advice. It is important to follow your own emotions and deal in your own way. Know from now this step never ends. You will always grieve as time passes and holidays and special occasions come and go.
Allow yourself to mourn your loss, as the loss of your mother is most probably the worst pain you will ever feel. The only exception would be for a parent to lose their child as this is not the normal "order of things". It is very important that you allow yourself time to mourn as this will help you to cope. By not allowing yourself time to mourn this will only bottle up these emotions and manifest themselves within you. This is not good as you can find yourself spiraling downward going no where quickly. This can be a dangerous pattern that can be harmful to you, your job, home, family etc.
Accept the fact that she is gone from her time on this earth. There are no "do overs". It is important to face the fact that you are still here and whether you like it or not the world still goes round. There is no point focusing on the "would of/could of or should of' s". Let's face it when we are born no one gives us a handbook to tell us when these things would happen.
Although you can wish that everyone and everything in your life would just stay in suspended animation, it won't. The bills will still come, car payments, mortgages and or rents will still be due. You have a responsibility to your family, your spouse, children, job, pet, home and most especially to yourself.
Seek counseling. Sometimes it is best for some people to meet with people and discuss the situation. A bereavement group is good for community and helping to see how others cope.
Talk, talk, talk. Talking about someone that has passed will help to keep their memory alive. This is a tough step since everyone around you such as co-workers, friends and family will do everything to avoid the subject as to not add to your pain or suffering.
You will come to see in time as holidays, special occassions and various life events come and go in time. The loss of your mother can become like the "elephant in the room" that therapists tell you about. Everyone sees and feels the situation but no one dares to talk about it. For the rest of your life no matter how much time has passed you will always notice the empty space it leaves and especially more at special times. With time we come to accept that we will be one less at the dinner table or maybe it is the empty spot at church or on special occassions. You will always feel that loss but learn to expect that empty spot therefore in time we learn to cope and with this comes acceptance.
I also find that talking about your Mom and reliving memories of time shared with family and friends ease the pain. I feel this is the greatest honor you can give to her memory and help the new comers to the family such as spouses and children to get to "know" your Mother.
Ok to feel the pain. It is okay to allow yourself to feel the pain of the loss of your mother. As mentioned everyone has different relationships with their mothers, therefore everyone will cope with this step differently. Many people have regrets such as I should have done more, been more loving, accepting, open minded. Maybe you would have reconsidered leaving home? Moving away? If only we could predict the future then I am sure we would not have so many would of/could of/should of's. Maybe you were always hoping that in time your relationship would change and when she died that hope died too? Maybe you thought she would always be there so as we take advantage of this? Whatever your issues with her passing come to realize that she did not have a choice, unfortunately death is a part of life.
Work.. When all else fails work. When I lost my mother I naturally took some time off. Guess what?? Returning to the office was one of the nicest feelings believe it or not. I was grateful to find the overflowing in basket. My desk was in the same messy array of papers and stacks of documents that I left before it happened. Going back to work will not only help to keep the mind busy but the commaraderie and banter helps us cope too.
"An idol mind is the devil's playground" a saying I heard once but apparantly a very true statement. An idol mind give us too much time to reflect and remain in our mourning and stagnation. It also allows negative thought in and this can be a very hard cycle to break.
Pray... Go to your church/temple/mosque etc.. and find that inner peace and solace. When your faith is strong it helps us to cope and accept our loss.
Speak to your spiritual leader such as a priest or rabbi. Talking it out with someone that shares your religious views may be able to offer words of advice or perhaps help to strenghten your faith. This may be able to help give to you a better understanding that everything happens for a reason, although we may not see what that reason is. This is a strong part of faith.