A New Loss

26 Aug

I am finally finding time to write, but must interrupt the regular format of my posts with sadness as our family has lost one of its great matriarchs. I use this word with purpose, especially after reading this definition: “A highly respected woman who is a mother” (“Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, 2000. Web). My husband’s Aunt Helen became my aunt from our first family event. She epitomized the “Other Mothers” I am grateful to have had; as I wrote in my post, https://iwishmymom.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/other-mothers/.  Even one week before she succumbed to non-smoker’s lung cancer at age 86, she shared her wisdom and positive spin with me. While I think I was one of her biggest fans, I realize that her entire family and her friends tie for first place in that category. She was also a fan of each of us, always interested in and supportive of our endeavors. I appreciated her subscription to this blog. She read it and commented to me as an “other mother” and as a regular reader.   I am glad that she and my mom had the chance to meet. My mom, being a great judge of character, immediately liked her. Her daughters, son, grandchildren, brother and all of us nieces, nephews and cousins have been inspired by her and will miss her greatly.  As Aunt Helen, generous and selfless, would have wanted, we are not dwelling on our loss.  She would be glad to know we celebrate her and carry on with strength and optimism.

Just a few weeks later, I watched a dear friend, my husband’s stepmother, grieve as her mother passed away.  She had the great fortune to enjoy a very long and wonderful relationship with her mom who died at age 92. Yet, losing your mom, at any age, is so difficult.

I have actually debated (with myself, in my head), if I would find losing my mom harder had she lived longer. As silly as it sounds, I think maybe I’d be even more spoiled, more used to having her around. I might not have learned to make certain decisions (right or wrong….) on my own.  I would have become more dependent on her advice, help, etc. I wonder, would the adjustment to life as a motherless daughter and parent, be more difficult if my mom had lived another 20 years? So, when a relative or friend experiences this loss, I sometimes think, “Oh she has it so much harder than I did.”  And, then, I almost get angry with myself as I realize that A. I had it really hard. When my mom died, I was filled with agony. I could  not have imagined a more painful period of time. My adjustment was not easier than anyone else’s.  B. What I would have done or would still do to have been granted more time with mom. It would have been wonderful to share even one more day with her. And C. It’s all so personal, unique and unpredictable. We cannot measure the suffering we experience when our mother dies. No one’s is easier, better, harder.

It just is.

5 Responses to “A New Loss”

  1. Christina August 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    This Saturday will be 20 years since my mom died suddenly when I was just 22 years old. Now at 42 with two young sons, I have just started to feel more confidence in myself as a mother. For so many years, I jealously watched as almost all of my peers had their mothers nearby to care for their grandchildren, lend a helping hand with babysitting and just model mothering. The resentment and bitterness nearly undid me. With God’s grace and professional help, I have started to gain some perspective. Like you, I cannot imagine suffering the loss of my mom as a mother myself. It’s a weird position to be in–on the one hand more than anything I wish she were here to see her grandchildren, to see me as a mother, to enjoy her own life and maturity, and then on the other hand, knowing what I know about the intense pain and suffering that I experienced, I just don’t know if I could have handled the loss. So, whereas I always thought that when my friends’ mothers started to pass away, I’d be sort of snarky and ‘well now you know what I’ve been dealing with all these years’, instead I actually feel that my comfort to them is just my experience and empathy.

  2. naomimgruer August 28, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    I’m sorry to hear about the two losses in your family. It’s so hard to lose the people that have made an impact on our lives. I hope your many wonderful memories of Aunt Helen and your step grandmother-in-law are a comfort as time goes on. I really like the last two lines of your post: “No one’s is easier, better, harder. It just is.”

  3. Karen August 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    100% perfectly written. A lot if thought is involved on the points you bring up.
    Everyone should have a friend like you- so real and smart. Amungst the other things I’m lucky in life with, having you as my friend is def up there! Thanks for this. See you Sunday. Love you! Ka

    • Shari Danzig Stein August 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks for your sweet and generous words- I truly treasure treasure our friendship.

  4. Robin Kahn August 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Shari~ So sorry for both of your family’s losses. Unfortunately, Scott and I both know how difficult it is to lose a mother. We are thinking of all of you during this time. Thanks for putting it into words.
    I, like Naomi, also love the last lines of your essay. I asked so many questions after my mom passed and then so quickly after that, my dad, to which there are no real answers…it just is.

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