Did this really just happen?

by Lanette McNamara
(Gardner, Illinois, USA)

They call me Lainey and I'm 21 years old. My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer this March and by June she was gone. We lost her on the morning of 6-11-12 and I still feel like saying, "My mom has what?" I just don't understand.

One day she was my mom; the strong, over-worked, wisdom-filled woman I had known all my life. The next thing I knew she had become this strange, sickly, cancer-filled version of my mother; a fraction of the person I knew.

I feel like I watched her waste away. She was sick and constantly in pain and there was nothing I could do about it but hold the garbage can while she puked her life away.
On top of it all, I just know the last ten things I said to her, aside from I love you and I promise to drive carefully, were, "Sorry Mom but I have to go to work." She wanted her last few months to be happy and filled with good memories but since they never gave her a pain pump (even after they said her cancer was not curable) her remaining time was anything but.

After she passed my big sister was a mess while I was the "strong one." I don't even understand what that means anymore. I feel like people looked down upon me for not becoming a complete mess. I knew there were things that had to be done and I couldn't do it while crying. As a matter of fact, I just became so incredibly angry. I think watching her go through the pain and sickness hurt more than planning her funeral. As I sit typing this at home I can't help but look around at her things and think to myself, "Mom's still at work."

Are my feelings wrong? I break down sometimes in my own little moments but I think it hasn't quite hit me yet. I watched it all happen before my eyes and I still don't believe it. I'm scared for when it will. I'm hurt, I'm scared and I really don't know what to do now. But the strangest part is: I want to know why she hasn't come back to me somehow - In some way, shape or form to tell me she's okay or that I will be okay. Why hasn't she found a way to send me a message? Why is she gone? I still need her but all I have left to hold are the memories that hit me like bombs when I least expect it.

Comments for Did this really just happen?

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Jun 25, 2012
Everything you feel is normal
by: Katharine, London, UK

Hi Lainey, I somehow ended up on this website and as I started reading people's heartfelt stories, I knew why.

Everything you feel is completely normal and I am so sorry to hear of your mum's recent passing. It has been no time at all and you will still be in shock. What you have been through is a really big deal and especially for a 21 year-old girl. You need to stop being so hard on yourself. There is no right and wrong - everyone deals with their loss differently.

I was drawn to your story as I lost my mum last July and I was only 26. Being so young, and the only daughter (I have 3 brothers), I have found losing mum really painful and lonely. You are so young and like me, you probably feel very sorry for yourself, not to mention angry at the fact you have lost your mum so early in your life. It has made me feel scared and lost. I cannot tell you that the next few months are going to be easy but what I can say is that you need to just let your feelings take their course - don't keep asking yourself why you are more angry than teary - I am sure you will go through all of the emotions at some point. You need to just try and calm your thoughts and not put expectations upon your yourself. It has nearly been a year since my mum died (it does not feel like a year and I cannot even believe it has been - very strange) and I am still very up and down. One minute I am sad, the next I am really angry and fed up. Unfortunately, this goes with the territory. When I think back to the time just after she died, it was a complete blur and I think 6 months passed and it was very jumbled. You are still in shock and it may be a while before you stop feeling a bit hazy. The one bit of advice I will give to you and which I am sure your mummy would agree, is no matter how bad you feel, try to give yourself some love and try to look after yourself. There were times when I was grieving that I hated the person I had become - moody, rude, selfish. But looking back, all I needed was to give myself a break and cut myself some slack. Your mum has gone and your entitled to be out of sorts. So go with the flow and be how you want to be - do NOT worry about what other people say/think and certainly do not be hard on yourself. Theres nothing more damaging than self hate. There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is no doubt that your mum is around you - try meditating and calming your thoughts, it will bring you a step closer to communication. Ask your spirit guides to help you heal and help you connect with your mum, she'll always be with you. Lastly, it will still be painful after a year BUT you do get stronger and although I am lonely without her, I find comfort in the fact that I know she is still looking after me in spirit and in knowing that she is only a thought away. Best wishes, Katharine velocitydance@hotmail.co.uk xxxxxxxxxx

Jun 24, 2012
by: I hear you from New Zealand

I am 27 and my mum died just over a year ago, suddenly and very unexpectedly. I was not in the same city and didnt get to her before she died. hugging her dead but still warm body at the hospital was the most crushing thing i have ever done. How can your mum, the one who you have known you entire existence not hug you back.. EVER. Everyones stories on here have been so good to read, i feel so alone because unless you have lost a mum or child/partner you just don't understand no matter how hard you may try to be of support, the feelings you go through can only be shared with those who have lived it too. I too can't believe my mum hasnt tried to get in contact with me. She was a pretty spiritual person, had a great acceptance of death and our place in the world in general we often talked about how when she would die one day and i wanted her to get in touch. It makes me angry that she hasn't or can't, is she really not out there for me? I have even thought about going to see a clairvoyant for a reading incase she just needs a medium to get across to me.. worth a try right? But I won't hold my breath on that one, im pretty skeptical. Then reading one of these other stories i remembered how i had a dream about her about 6 months ago, well it wasn't so much about her but in the dream i died and it was so peaceful the feeling that went through my body was like no other and when i woke up somehow i thought it was her way of telling me she was ok. who knows, you need to take these things and see them for the positive, whether its just your own mind healing your soul or her, does it really matter? I think you will have dreams about her one day. Last night i actually had a horrible one where she died again but i also have no doubt i will have another nice one again one day. I would love for you to email me if you ever just want to write thoughts to someone who gets it, I for one would love to have the opportunity to do so. My thoughts are with you. jac.hunt@gmail.com

Jun 19, 2012
on the journey with you..
by: Chandra

Lanette- I am 28 and lost my mom February 24. I was crying while reading your post because all of the feelings you are having are the ones that I had, and still do have now. Describing it as walking around in a nightmare is such a good description- you have absolutely no control over what is going on around you, and you can't escape from it. You also feel as though if you could just wake up, everything will go back to normal and your mom will still be alive. The morning that my mom died, I actually kept telling myself "This isn't real.." and waited for the phone to ring telling me that they had the wrong person and my mom was really still alive, or that they were just joking. My rational mind tells me that they don't do that- they would NEVER do that. But I didn't have my rational mind with me at that point. All I knew was my reality could never include my mom being gone. I even went to the hospital to see her after she passed- I saw her laying there-lifeless, eyes closed. But I still could not convince myself that she was gone. I don't think I processed what had happened until the funeral 4 days later. By that time, I had to then process the fact that when they closed the casket lid before the service, that was the last time I would see my mom- there were no see you laters or bringing her back, no more hugs or goodbyes, that was it. I had never experienced something so final in my life. People tried to make me feel better by telling me that she is in a better place and that I would see her again someday. I wanted someday to be NOW. Anyway- I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your feelings. I hope that you soon find comfort. The feelings don't ever go away, they just get easier to deal with.

Jun 19, 2012
I Feel Your Pain
by: Lanette

I was drawn to your post for 3 reasons: I am also named Lanette, my mom passed away too, and your mom passed on my mom's birthday. I feel what you are going through. My mom passed away in her sleep on May 27, 2012. I have 4 other siblings and my dad left, with many other supportive family members. We are all very close and feel my mom was taken too soon. We don't know why she had to go. We were camping for memorial weekend and she was feeling like she had the flu, then went home, went to bed and didn't wake up. We all got through the funeral, made her slide show and collage of pictures and cried and laughed at the past pictures we would look at. I felt like I could get through this... then the funeral came and I turned into this person that I never knew existed. I was feeling so disconnected to the world. I have 2 children of my own so my husband has been helping me alot. I too was wondering why? Why haven't I heard from her or got some kind of message that she's fine. This past saturday, almost 3 weeks after she passed, i finally had a dream of her. In that dream she didn't talk but I felt her and saw her. She just listened to me talk and she was driving me on this beautiful, scenic highway. When I woke up, I knew that dream meant she was still beside me, guiding me on the rest of my journey of life. You will get yours too. I was so frustrated waiting, but then it happened. Talk to your mom, that helps. Tell her your hurts and your fears on how it will be without her. I wish you the best. God bless you.

Jun 18, 2012
I understand you
by: Diego

Lanette, I perfectly understand the nightmare you are going through. My brother the most important person in my life, passed away 2 weeks ago with only 26 years old from a heart attack “sudden death” as they called it…life have no sense anymore, everything hurts at this moments…it feels like a movie, I still expect my brother call to my cell phone to talk about silly things as we always did…but that is not going to happen, he is gone. I was just at the point of going to a mental institution, but reading all the post in this site have gave me a new perspective of my situation and I understand that I’m not alone in this journey and many people is living this nightmare too…also I joined a local grief group, it helps a lot to talk face to face with people that are living this too…anyway if someday you want to talk or something this is my e-mail: descobarledesma@gmail.com ,wish you all the best.

Jun 18, 2012
u are very normal
by: Anonymous

Ok where do I begin. Being THE STRONG ONE has been the course of my life the last ten years. I was always the one who HAD TO KEEP IT TOGETHER!!!!!!!! First when my father was diagnosed with throat cancer 9 years ago. I had to n\make sure i was getting all the ifo, and taking care of him because they would not let him come home unless i knew how to use feeding tubes, change bandages......he died two months after being diagnosed if i was not THE STRONG ONE who would keep my mother from totally loosing it. Move forward 24 months after my father died. My cousin who was my best friend and like a sister was diagnosed with bowel cancer and died 13 days after her diagnosis. I had TO BE THE STRONG ONE for my mother and aunt who were not in good shape. Move forward march 24, 2011 my mother went into the hospital for a D and C and was diagnosewd with stage 4 ovarian cancer that had spread to her entire body. I HAD TO BE THE STRONG ONE my mother did not want to know anything about her health the doctors only told me. So I would go into her hospital room and put a smile on my face to make her think all was well. I am an only child and unmarried. Thirteen days after this horrible news and a horrible struggle she was gone. Again I had to be the STRONG ONE to plan the funeral and make the arrangements. Now me THE STRONG ONE is a complete mess. I am on antidepressants and several anxiety medications I am no longer the strong one. I cry myself through the day have panic and anxiety attacks. The strong one was buried with my mother hung around until after her funeral but now is gone. Believe it will hit you and when it does the pain is i can't even describe This is what i call living HELL \. I miss all three of them so much that I can't stand it. Why me why them why not leave me at least my mother. She loved me so unconditionally this is not living I am only existing. Don't worry because it will hit u when u least expect it and u will wonder how in the world could you have been the STRONG ONE..

Jun 18, 2012
Did this really just happen?
by: Doreen England U.K.

Hi Lainey
Did this really just happen? Yes it did Lainey. I am so sorry for your loss of your mother. You are in SHOCK. You will feel Numb. You will be asking. Is this really happening. You will feel as if you are dreaming and just all a nightmare and you are going to wake up and it won't really have happened. You will be searching and crying for your mother.
These are called the first stages of Grief. It is very painfull. You are on the right website as we all share the same feelings. It doesn't matter how old we are we all feel the same way. You are expressing how you are feeling. You feel messed up because you are so young. Death is no respector of persons. Cancer is a curse and slays more families than I can count. It is a very very cruel disease.
I nursed my husband of 44yrs. marriage through lung cancer for 3yrs.39days and he died 6 weeks ago. I am devastated. I miss him. I want him back. I don't want my life changed like this. I don't want to feel lonely without him here in my life. I feel as if my soul is bleeding to death and I can't stop it. This is how grief feels. It is the most painfull and heartbreaking experience to go through. Of course you will want your mother back. You have unfinished business. You didn't get to say all the things you wanted to say to her. She died too quickly for you to even catch your breath. It's not Fair you will feel, I want her back I need her in my life.
You will feel angry and not know how to place your anger and who it belongs to. This is normal. You must express these feelings as it is part of the grief and part of the healing you experience by going through the grief. Don't avoid the grief otherwise you will just postpone it and it will feel worse when it comes out. You also don't get over it till you feel you are able to cope with it because many people will be telling you when you should feel better. This is wrong and you must avoid listening to them. Follow your heart. Grief doesn't come all at once. You will grieve in stages at different times to your sister and in different places. You may even be at work, the bank, the Mall, the supermarket. I cry going down the road, in the bus, in the supermarket, in the bank. It just happens and you have to let it happen.
Try and see a bereavement counsellor who is trained to support anyone who has faced a death and find it difficult.
You sound as if you and your sister are the only one's going through this. Do you have any family to support you at this time? Don't face this grief alone as it will be harder. I have so many supportive sisters and brother-in-laws and I wouldn't be able to cope without this support. I had to watch my husband deteriorate over 3 years with this cancer and watch him as he knew he was going to die but didn't know when. He was in severe pain a lot of the time.

Jun 18, 2012
Day to Day
by: Helen

Lainey you have stayed strong so you could arrange the details for the funeral and help your sister.
Your feelings are normal, I was strong up until the funeral and then it hit me, my feelings where all over the place, anger is also a part of the grieving process.
My anger was due to dad dying suddenly and unexpectedly and asking why, and being angry with the world because he has left my sister and I.
I even argue with my sister now, and we've never argued for the past 40 yrs. Both of us are grieving in our own ways, me outwardly, she more inwardly. We reconcile after each arguement as we both know that its hard coping without our dad. Also we both agree we each need more space to grieve in our own way
You say that we want to know if your mum's O.K. try to remember your nightly dreams, we tend to have many dreams and don't remember them, or mediate, and if you religious and go to church you may find the answers there.
Just take each day as it comes and your feelings will change,
the grieving process and steps are different for everyone.
Take a few moments daily to look into yourself and accept whatever emotions you are feeling, and love yourself as you travel the roller coaster ride of grief. Xxxx

Jun 18, 2012
a hard feeling to describe
by: MeMe

Hi! I'm sorry for your loss and for the pain. My mom passed a few years ago and I just said recently that it's so strange to have someone your whole life then in a blink they're gone. Even when I go to the cemetery I just can't believe my mom is in that hole. Before my wedding my mom had an infection that almost took her so the doctor calls me and asked for a conference he says I know you're getting married but I don't think mom will be here for it. My heart dropped and I went home and prayed harder than I had ever prayed. I told God I'm the 1st to get married & my day wouldn't work without her and if he allowed her to be at my wedding the next time he was ready for her I wouldn't put up a fight I would just release her. Mom made a complete recovery and was at the wedding doing better than us. The next year she got sick again and I told God I know what I said but I'm sorry I lied and she died. So many times since then she has let her presence be known and I would give anything to hold her 1 more time. I know she's in a place where she's not hurting or suffering anymore and I have to live right in order to see her again. If you loved your mom & did right by her there's no reason for you to mourn she's in a place waiting for you when God sends his angels for you. Moms are irreplaceable so it's ok to miss, shed tears and think of her often but don't stop living your life. We only have 1!!!!!!!

Jun 18, 2012
I know your pain.
by: Londa Gates

Even tho I dont know you and vice versa....im here for u. I know how you feel and what you are going through. Theres nothing you can do or say to make ur pain go away. I lost my mom 6 months ago today. I still cant believe its been half a year already. I am 23 and I have two children. She was my step mom but besides my kids....she was the only one who I had no matter what. She was hit by a car while with my son, they were in their way to the store to buy sugar to make xmas cookies. My son survived...thank God...but my mom wasnt so lucky. 6 months prior to her passing..my biological mother passed. My father also passed away when I was 12. Aunts uncles friends and my sons dad are all gone. I still feel like giving up.....like i cant do it...but somehow I manage. Altho I cant speak for you....im sure your pain will ease in time. Ill keep you in my thoughts and prayers. -Londa Gates

Jun 18, 2012
I am so Sorry
by: carol,seans mom

Lanette, I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. I am fortynine and still have mine. I don't understand losing a mom but I understand losing a son. He was 24 and died suddenly November 15,2011. I believe what you are feeling is shock. Give yourself time and be patient with your self. People told me they were amazed how I got threw my sons wake and funeral. Looking back seven months I now know I was in shock. My life is now devastating and each day is a struggle. My son had plans and dreams for his life he will never get to experience. Shock has worn off and pain and anguish have taken over. Take care!

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