Struggling with my mom's death
by Rachel D'Oro
My 85-year-old mother died 15 days ago after my family removed her from life support. I don't know now what to with my grief, which is being manifested by conflicting layers of sadness that she no longer is here, and joy and relief that she is no longer trapped in her aging, failing body, and that she is no longer in pain, her youthful soul now peacefully with her maker in heaven, where she wanted to be for so long. A third realm, though, is how numb and depressed I feel through it all, as if it's somehow not real. My mom had been ailing for several years and I flew back to California twice to say goodbye, the last time a couple months ago, when she was hooked up, practically in a coma, to a breathing machine and a blood-pressure drip, the only things that were keeping her alive. In the end, my family knew we had to let her go. She was not going to get better. She was gone two hours after she was removed from life-support. She went very peacefully, with no outward struggle. A week later, I flew back to California for her funeral. She was cremated, her ashes placed in a tiny, wooden urn to sit at an alter in front of a large photo of her young self. I never saw the proof that she was gone, and maybe that's the problem. My father died in 1989, in front of my eyes. I saw him take his last breath in the hospital, saw him again one last time in his open casket. I never got that with my mom. I feel unsettled, even though outwardly I function at work. I laugh and eat and breathe. All the while, I feel unsettled and incomplete, like my mom is still struggling to hold on in some nearby reality. Can anyone relate to this? I feel so all alone and lethargic. Is this limbo-feeling normal?