My mom- Carole Spaulding
(Hayden Lake, ID, USA)
My mom died of a sudden stroke at the age of 52. I was 17 yrs old and a senior in high school.
I am the youngest in the family. I have 3 older brothers. There is a 6 year gap between my older brother and an 11 year span between my oldest brother.
At the time of my mom’s death, two of my brothers dealt with the sudden death with destructive behavior with alcohol and drug abuse. Getting arrested and jail time. My oldest brother was married, so he had his wife.
I on the other hand, took the route of being strong. Almost overnight I felt myself take the place of my mother in the family. I comforted my dad when he came home one night after work. I remember cradling him in my arms. I remember when everyone was sitting around the dinner table crying and my dad holding my aunt, my mom’s sister; I was the one who offered the comforting story to ease the pain she was going through.
I was searching for answers in books, talking to a woman from church, seeking out my 5th grade teacher, anything or someone that could help me through this grief thing. I was looking for a way to get through it and get over it. But I must have missed something along the way…
I am now 45 years of age, going through emotions I thought should have been dealt with long ago. I have gotten some counseling for repressed grief after an episode last March when I found that I was crying on the way to work and on the way home from work, thinking about my mom. But on the first day of spring this year I couldn’t stop crying.
I had just recently been on a trip to visit my family and the subject of my mom came up. I had some flashes of anger rise up in me that took me by surprise, and when I returned from the trip that is when I couldn’t stop crying. I took the whole day off of work and just cried my eyes out. I was at a very low place and a friend came and talked to me and said I needed professional help.
I did go see the counselor for almost 7 weeks and it helped tremendously and I spoke with her recently. It was the anniversary of my mom’s death. So I am doing better, but just this morning at church they are taking signups for a tree of memories to memorialize a lost one. I had to consciously think that it is healthy to sign up, it is unhealthy to avoid.
I signed my mom’s name to the paper. I was fighting emotions that if I did this, that I would have to acknowledge her death again which in my mind is bad, but this was a good thing to remember and thank my mom for the life that she gave me and the character that she showed me and the faith she demonstrated daily.
Grief is the most horrific, terrifying, isolating, despairing emotion I have ever faced. And when I thought I faced it, I found out I didn’t really fully face it. I thought I was doing such a good job at it. Moving on with my life… getting married, having two wonderful sons, getting a career and going back to college to get another career… all without my mom.
Now this is where I break down and cry the tears of longing to be held by her, longing to speak to her, longing to say I’m so sorry for being such a selfish kid.
Grief has been a part of me for most of my life and it has changed me. Let’s get real… I hate grief! It has robbed me of happiness and joy. I have used it to hide my emotions from my family and caused me not to fully embrace them for fear of more pain. I know the old saying that you can’t stop the pain because if you stop feeling then you stop living. Well, I have felt like a part of my heart has been frozen since my mom’s death and many parts have defrosted but one last part, and that is the part where I say goodbye.
To be able to fully accept her death and to embrace her life, to remember the wonderful person she was and not be fearful of loving those around me fully. So although I hate grief, it has made into the person I am today.
I am capable of love and displaying that love to those around me. I can breathe and live and have joy in my heart. I can forgive family and friends that were not there to embrace me when I needed it. I can live a life set free from the agony of grief.