Nobody Loves You Like Your Mother
Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015 3:00 am
It’s a phrase that I heard often in my childhood (from who else but my mom!), one that I have often repeated to my own children. When it became clear that we were nearing the time that we would lose Mom, that phrase repeated itself over and over in my mind. My mother, who for my siblings and me had worn so many hats-teacher, hand-holder, nursemaid, seamstress, cook, baker, nurturer, cheerleader, listener, and above all, unconditional supporter and champion- was leaving us? How on earth would we exist without her?
Mom passed away at the end of October that year. By the time we’d gotten through the visitation, the funeral, the thank-you notes and all, we were well into the first week of November. The holidays were looming. The first one was Veterans’ Day: Mom was a proud World War II veteran of the United States Navy, and boy, she never let you forget it! She and I had a tradition of lunching every year at Applebee’s, where they honor vets by providing a free meal. How she loved that! That day was a tough one for me. But the big ones were still in front of me: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s….how would I cope?
Around that time I’d begun receiving invitations to a “Handling the Holidays” bereavement support group, sponsored by All Care Hospice, under whose care Mom spent that last ten or so months of her life. I got a chance to get to know the agency on a very personal level; without exception, everyone associated with Mom’s case was sensitive, caring, approachable and competent. But I didn’t think I could bare my soul to a group of strangers….not when my grief was so new and raw. I’ll just power through it, I thought. I’ll be so busy, I won’t have time to think. Just when I’d made up my mind that I wasn’t going, another invitation came, this time by phone. You know how it is when you’re on the phone-you don’t want to say no, so I said I’d go, thinking I’d cancel later. Then, the day before the group was meeting, I realized that I had nothing to lose. I’d sit & observe, take it all in, then make up my mind. Well, when I arrived, I was greeted warmly by the bereavement counselor and the other three or four people who were there. People were sharing their stories and I thought, I don’t belong here! I’m a grown woman who’s lost her 91 year old mother, and these folks had lost children, siblings, 50+ year spouses! I was almost embarrassed to be there. My grief, though devastating to me, had to pale in comparison to theirs. But you know what? From regularly going to these meetings (our group got on so well that a few of us and the counselor continued to meet after the holidays) I learned that grief is grief. It can’t be quantified. Talking and listening to one another showed us all that we weren’t alone in our feelings. The counselor asked us questions that sparked lively discussions, and I found myself looking forward to the next meeting.
Don’t get me wrong….the holidays were difficult, as were birthdays, etc. But the support I felt during those sessions made them much less so. I will always be grateful. So to those of you who have lost a loved one: please accept my condolences and if you ever do get the opportunity to attend a bereavement group sponsored by All Care Hospice, I hope that you take it, you’ll be glad you did!
All Care Hospice is hosting a “Surviving the Holidays” six-week bereavement support group that is open to anyone in the community who has experienced the loss of a loved one. This group will focus on how to cope with the stress of the holiday season, and offers an opportunity for individuals to share their thoughts and experiences while being supported by others. Topics will include common grief reactions, ways to care for and advocate for oneself as the holidays are approaching and developing healthy coping strategies. For more information and to register please contact All Care Bereavement Coordinator Siobhan Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-244-1198