Mom Died … I’m Heartbroken

by LisaBunnage on July 10, 2016

I’ve been avoiding writing since my wonderful mom died in my arms. The world seems so empty without her. We were unbelievably close and were the envy of many mothers and daughters who didn’t have that same bond. I’m lucky to have that same bond with my daughter. My son is the one I turn to when I feel like I’m falling apart, he’s my rock.

I lost my sweet Dad when I was just 14 so feel so fortunate to have had Mom until I was 55. Grief is so personal and unpredictable. I still love coaching parents but haven’t been able to write about parenting … go figure? I’m going to try to get back into the swing of it now as not feeling quite as foggy as I was.

What did my Mom teach me about parenting? She taught me to always be supportive and positive, never be bossy, teach children to be accountable.

Mom was the most positive, cheery person I’ve ever known. She had a tough life but you’d never know it if you’d met her. She taught me to appreciate everything, make lemonade out of lemons and to have fun. I definitely brought those lessons into my own parenting style. Whining or complaining were simply not options in our house. My kids whined about being bored, I handed them a mop. They complained about having to make their bed, I’d hand them the dirty laundry to wash. Negativity was simply not allowed. BE NICE, BE ACCOUNTABLE AND HAVE FUN. That was about it.

I don’t remember Mom ever telling me what to do or punishing me. My kids say the same thing about me. Everything was dealt with using humour and good old fashioned common sense. I gave them choices then it was up to them:

  • As soon as you’ve cleaned your room you can watch TV. Up to you.
  • You can make your bed then play a video game. Up to you.
  • Sure we can go to the park, as soon as you get your homework done. Up to you.

I never put a negative spin on it. Wouldn’t have said, “We won’t go to the park until you’ve done your homework.” That tone tends to bring out defiance, not pride.

All about accountability. Kids who are accountable have high self-esteem. Kids who are NOT accountable have low self-esteem which leads to all sorts of problems in childhood AND adulthood. I always added the “Up to you”.

People continually said, “You’re so lucky to have such easy kids!!!” I guess that’s one way of looking at it but why were other kids also good with me? I’ve worked with some pretty challenging kids and teens and never had a problem with any of them. I gave them choices then built up their pride and self-esteem by praising them when they made good choices. Never focused on negativity as that just made them feel bad about themselves.

Phew, I’m drained. Grief is so weird, I don’t know why writing about parenting is so painful since Mom died. I can talk about her and my grief, just can’t write about parenting. Oh well, it is what it is.

I’m an orphan now, no one’s face lights up when I enter the room. Sure, people are happy to see me, but that’s different. After my son moved out (daughter still lives with me) I can remember one particular occasion when I hadn’t seen him for a few weeks. He walked in the front door and I lit up like a Christmas tree. Mom looked like that every time I visited her and I’ll miss that. I’ll miss her for the rest of my life just as I miss Dad every day. I’m so grateful to have had such warm, wonderful parents. I’m grateful … just grieving.

If you’ve lost a loved one recently I’d love to hear how you’re doing.

Lisa

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne Foster July 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm

I lost mine Dec 18 2015.( I’ll spare the ugly details). The first few weeks were the toughest. I cried a lot and I’m NOT a crier. My kids(Shiloh 7 Brandon 5) could only say “Nana died”? and asked a few other questions that I answered the best I could. I had a small service at the end of January. I find evenings emptier. We used to call each other every evening and visit at her nursing home every Sunday afternoon(we should be there right now). The last time I heard her voice was Dec 1st.(my birthday) about 9:30pm. I called her to ask if she know what day it was. She said “Wednesday”(it was a Tuesday), “let me check my calendar” and the phone went dead. I knew she had problems with her cell so, I’d call in the morning. I got a call about 1:30A from the home saying she was having trouble breathing(nothing new)and they were calling an ambulance.

I’m over a lot of the first major holidays which went ok. I actually got an invite for Christmas Eve(would not have happened before her death). Mothers day sucked but…I’m sure Monday was ok.

All honesty though…My mom was sick my entire life. The burden of her illnesses has been lifted off me. She made me be her full time caregiver since I was a child. I didn’t know how to say “NO”! I finally did(say no) when she had a hospitalization and I refused to have her come home. I had to threaten suicide to get her moved. The health care team agreed to find her a bed ASAP. She did not come home upon discharged. She was moved to a temporary bed till a permanent one became available. I continued to visit and call daily. We both ended up loving the care home she went into. It was then the caregiving role I played was finally ended and a mother daughter relationship was formed. Going out for lunch was enjoyable, not owed. Tea was friendly not hostile. After her death I was able to do a lot of healing too, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I hoped this helped

Yvonne Foster

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LisaBunnage September 19, 2016 at 9:54 am

Yvonne,

I’m so grateful for you sharing your story. I can’t remember answering this as haven’t found it easy to think or talk about Mom. So please accept my apology if I didn’t respond earlier, you poured your story out and it seemed to be ignored … but it wasn’t. It meant a great deal to me, I just don’t think I was able to respond before. Or maybe I did, kinda foggy about Mom stuff. So, again, I’m sorry. I believe in making amends so would like to offer you a free 60 minute parenting session. We can talk about any parenting challenges you may be having or just talk about our moms … up to you :).

I can’t imagine being a child caregiver but had a kind of similar experience in that my childhood also ended early. My Dad got cancer when I was 10 and died when I was 14 1/2. My friends were talking about boys and what they were going to wear and I was worrying about whether or not Dad was going to fall asleep face first into his dinner plate, be up wandering the halls all night in pain or going to be around to see me graduate high school, which he wasn’t.

To help me cope I started volunteering in daycare centers as always had a very strong maternal instinct so mothering all those little kids helped me forget about my pain. I was always assigned the difficult kids as found them easy to deal with. The adults would ask how I did it and I couldn’t explain it but I believe it was because of all the pain I was going through with my Dad I’d developed a high sensitivity to other people’s feelings. I understood kids, I could see exactly why they were doing what they were doing and intervene on their level so they’d make better choices and have more confidence. I loved it, was like I’d found my calling.

I think those difficult childhood experiences give us a level of compassion and an appreciation for life that many people never get. I’ve known people who’ve had charmed lives yet moan and complain about the smallest things. I used to get angry at them now I just pity and avoid them like the plague. Life’s too short to be dragged down by negative people, I value myself too much to allow that to happen.

There’s no way I’ve dealt with Mom’s death yet. I have plans for spreading her ashes but not going to do that until I’m ready to do so with humour and fun, just the way Mom would’ve wanted it. In the meantime, I’m being kind to myself and letting things happen naturally.

My Mom looooooved cards, or any type of game. Never really been my thing but I grew up knowing how to shuffle a deck of cards like a Vegas dealer, roll dice like a pro and use a Scrabble Dictionary with precision. Last night I had my kids, etc. over for dinner and games and as I sat at the head of the table dealing out Blackjack I thought, “Oh my God, I’m my Mom!!!” So she still lives on … sort of, lol.

I’ll include my Parenting Questionnaire via email which you can fill out and return to me so we can schedule our session. Look forward to chatting.

Warmly, Lisa. ​

Reply

Terry Sturrock August 24, 2016 at 11:09 am

Hi Lisa, I knew that your Mom had passed and was sad to hear that but did not know how to get in contact with you until I saw your name on facebook. You are so right! Your Mom was such a happy and cheerful person. She was firm in her parenting and a very good roll model to me as well. We always enjoyed your Mom’s company. I remember when you had the pool on Chapman and she would say all the kids in the neighbourhood could come for 1 hour of swim but when she asked you to leave you did so right away or you would not be invited back again. All the kids jumped out when she said OK time is up. She usually ended their time with a popsicle to go! Much love to you as you will continue to miss her. Mom Mother is now 98 years old and we feel so blessed to still have her in our lives. She lost her Mom 65 years ago and she still says how much she misses her. Terry Sturrock

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Emily Hammer January 2, 2017 at 4:49 pm

I am 17 and my mom passed away on November 10,2016. It has been rough for me but I have been okay. I haven’t really cried but I also knew that this was going to happen, She went into the hospital for 1 week, got released for 1 week and then I had to make the decision to put her back into the hospital. She was put into the ICU and fell into a coma. 9 days later she passed away. She was sick for a while but never told me how bad it was. I miss her a lot and Christmas was very hard but I still have my dad, even though he can be very strict.

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LisaBunnage January 18, 2017 at 7:45 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad when I was 14 and found it helped to talk to other teenagers going through tough times. Nothing I can say to help you through this unfortunately, it’s a process. It’s so unfair when you lose a parent when young, but you’re not alone, lots of people go through it unfortunately. All the best, Lisa.

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