Open Letter to those who don't know what to say to me about my mom

by Mhaire Fraser
(California)

My mother died. The most important, essential and primal person in my life has died. She is not coming back, and this private silent grief is not something that can be understood unless you, too, are part of the adult orphan club. Don’t ask me how I am: I’m horrible, and it is ridiculous to expect a different answer. Many of you have not said anything, acted as if nothing happened, handled it badly, or acted as if I should be better now. Let me let you in on my truth: I will never be better and I am shaky all the time.

So if you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything: instead hug me when you see me. Whisper “I am so sorry” in my ear. Grasp my hand, leave cookies on my porch, send me flowers, a card, or a text checking in. Come over and help me paint new color on my walls, mulch the garden, sit quietly with me over tea, and most importantly, let me cry if I suddenly need to. Don’t try to comfort me. You can’t. If I talk about her, listen. Ask about her occasionally, but don’t be upset if I have tears running down my face as I tell you. Mostly, understand when I don’t want to talk, or be around people, even you, at least for now.

In short, there are a lot of ways to tell me that you love me, without having to uncomfortably address my mother’s death. Say it any way you know how. Trust me, I can hear you. I will be listening. But don’t do nothing.

And when I get to where I can emerge, be patient with me. On the day I get married, tell me she would be proud. When I publish my first book, know that I will set one aside for her, even though it will never be read. Maybe one day I will have a whole shelf of books that she will never read, yet there they will be. Daffodils and narcissus will bloom every year and every year I will tell you they are her favorites, and the story of the terra cotta pots. Nod as if you have never heard me say that before. I will show you the picture of her on her trike when she was four. Admire it as if you have never seen it before. Tell me she was beautiful.

Because she was.

Comments for Open Letter to those who don't know what to say to me about my mom

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Dec 28, 2013
You said it so well
by: Aine

Every thing you said is true. I lost my mum last summer and I wish I could show my friends your letter so they would know how I am feeling and what to do. it is now Christmas and I am particularly vulnerable, my first with out my mum.People don't know how to react to me. Thank you for your post.I wish you all the best.Aine

Nov 09, 2013
thanks
by: Monta

Thank you, I feel the same! I am writing poetry for her, smiling for her, crying for her, living for her, because I know - she just wants me to be happy. And even if I am sad, she understands. She always understood.

Good luck! This is hard, I know :) I am 22, I lost my mother two weeks ago, she was only 55...

Nov 07, 2013
Bless you
by: Anonymous

...and thank you.
It's only been 2 weeks since I got to last hold my mothers hands and tell her that I love her.
Life has changed and will never be the same again.
I, too, am an adult orphan and even at 55 I wasn't prepared to let go of her. Now I go through the days in a haze, hoping for some tender touch or words of love...maybe a gesture of help or hope.
Avoidance seems to be who's calling.
So I came here and found your words to be so close to what I'm feeling...and all I can think to say is bless you.
It's heartfelt.

Nov 06, 2013
Wow
by: Vicki

I just read the words that have been aching in my heart for the past 2 months. I couldn't have said it better. Thank you. My heart goes out to you and all the others here who have lost their loved ones, especially their mothers.

Nov 05, 2013
Thank you for sharing
by: Sandhia

Dear Mhaire

You have expressed what so many of us feel. I am so very sorry for the loss of your Mom. I too lost mine 58 days ago on September 8th. I feel that I have a need to talk about her and nothing much else. Oh, my heart aches like I never thought it will. Some people seem to feel it is enough time of grieving; that when you are an adult and loss a parent, it doesn't say much of your mental health that you are so sad; etc... Some pretend as if nothing has happened.

It is just so very difficult to be able sometimes to get up and do the things that need to be done. My Mom suffered so much; more so in the last three weeks. There was nothing I could do except to hold her hands and give her a hug. I wish I gave her more hugs.

Life has changed permanently and it will never be the same again. I wish people could understand that. Never will she call me again. Never can I touch her hand again...

I thank you with all my heart for writing this post as most of us are unable to put it so well into words. I am sorry that you had to be in this place to write it.

Thank you.
Sandhia

Nov 05, 2013
Open Letter to those who don't know what to say to me about my mom
by: Doreen UK

Mhaire I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved mother.
Yours words are so beautifully expressed in a way as to show your needs and let everyone know not to do the wrong thing. You are vulnerable right now, and "Please don't tread on my feelings or ignore me. I am still here." You expressed how many people feel and couldn't say in quite the same way.
Many people don't know what to say or how to say it. I echo your words. The importance of making oneself available now at this difficult time.
I had this support after I lost my husband 18 months ago. Everyone came around with food and laid it on the counter. There was always someone to make tea or coffee and serve the many people who came into our home. Everyone took a job to do and so it all got done. The support I received was more than words could say and was healing in itself. My sister knew the exact words to say. She was always available. On the first anniversary of my husband's death she came over and supported me at the graveside with flowers and her time. She and her husband then took my daughter and me out for a meal. She made that day Special. I will never forget all the kindness shown me at the right time. This type of kindness added ointment to my grief. Your words are very poignant. Thank you for expressing yourself in a way that is healing to one's soul where all the pain is held for a time. May God be with you and Comfort you each day and bring you His Peace.

Nov 04, 2013
Dear Mhaire,
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your post. I share your thoughts and emotions as well. I could never manage to capture them and write them so eloquently. I continue to grieve for my beloved father, and struggle to get through this pain. I am so sorry that you are grieving, and I wish you comfort and peace as you continue to heal. Barb

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