Dear Barb – Grieving for a Lost Mother

Dear Barb,

My mother recently passed away after a long illness. Everyone tells me she’s better off now because her suffering is over, but I really miss her. Everywhere I look, I see women who remind me of her. I would give anything just to pick up the phone and talk to her one more time. I’ve even dialed her number, wishing this was all a big mistake and that she would answer the phone. I wonder if I’ll ever stop missing my mother and get over this terrible sense of loss I feel. Are my feelings normal?

Monica in Cottam

I am so sorry for your loss Monica. It seems we are never really prepared to lose someone no matter how sick they have been or how many years they have been with us.

Grief is a unique experience for everyone. Some people openly express their grief, while others choose to hide their feelings. There is no easy way to predict how long you will grieve or how intense your feelings will be.

Following the loss of a loved one, an individual will experience a wide array of emotions that may include, to a varying degree, symptoms of anxiety and depression. Losing a loved one takes a physical toll on the body and leaves the immune system vulnerable. As a result, the person may not be able to fight off illness as efficiently and may even suffer a major illness.

Guilt is another common emotion associated with grief. The individual may feel they could have done something to prevent the death. Or maybe they weren’t able to be with the person when death arrived. As well, there is survivor’s guilt. A parent often feels this following the death of a child, as they wonder why this young life was taken and theirs was spared. Of course, no one knows why these things happen. However, we do have an obligation to the people around us and to ourselves to continue living the life we were given.

As in your case Monica, we all expect our parents will die one day, but when that day comes it is still a shock. Your mother has always been there and it is hard to imagine life without her. I don’t know how long it has been since your mother’s death, but experts advise giving yourself one complete year before you will come to grips with your grief.

Once you have gone through all the special days without your mother (e.g., birthday, Christmas, etc.) you will begin to see that life can go on without her. There will always be a part of you that will miss your mother and she will forever have a place in your heart. You never have to give that up.

However, if you are still feeling an overwhelming sense of loss after a year has passed, then it may be time for you to seek professional help. There are support groups specifically to help people handle the loss of a loved one. Sometimes just realizing that others are experiencing similar feelings will help.

Monica, give yourself some time, you have lost a very important person in your life.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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