Posted by: Kathy | January 20, 2010

Taking Time to Grieve

I have spoken about grief in several of my posts. Grief is a hard “emotion” to explain because it involves a bunch of different feelings. For me, grief was a dark cloud that surrounded my life and weighed me down. As I walked through this cloud, I never knew which emotion would hit me next or even how hard I’d be hit. It was usually a toss up between anger, guilt, and pain at various levels of intensity.

Different stages of grief have been identfied, and the feelings of anger, guilt, and pain are part of these stages. But I don’t think that everyone experiences the same stages of guilt or moves through these stages as they are listed, from beginning to end. Grief isn’t a straight line. It does have a beginning, but I don’t think there’s really a true end.

One thing I learned from my mom’s death is that it is important to grieve. It was important for me to recognize the loss I experienced, how that loss affected my life, and what the loss meant to me. But grieving is something I didn’t allow myself to do for many months after my mom’s death. When my mom first died, I was relieved that she was no longer suffering and in pain. But she was gone and my heart ached to have her back again. Two conflicting emotions. I was haunted by what pancreatic cancer had done to my mom, the shell of a person she had been reduced to in the final weeks and days of her life.

Of course, I worried about my dad after my mom died. He’d been through a lot during my mom’s illness and was deeply grieving over losing her. My son was grieving as well, and my daughter didn’t really understand what was going on, just that her grandmom was gone and everyone was sad. I felt that I had to be strong for everyone. So I cried when no one else was around and never talked about how I was feeling. I didn’t really tell anyone how deeply I was struggling inside. And then almost a year after my mom died, I found myself stuck in the same place emotionally where I had been when she died. The pain of her death and the horrors of her illness were still so fresh, so real, so close to my heart. I didn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was an emotional mess. I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve for the loss of my mom and what that meant to me. 

My husband, my dad, and friends told me that this was not what my mom would want for me. As I thought about their words, and thought of who my mom had been, I realized that they were right. I began talking with my pastor. I started to let go of my feelings instead of keeping them locked inside. I wrote a long, tearful letter to my mom. And I started to heal.

I don’t think you ever really get over the death of a parent, but things do get easier. There are times when I still feel pain and anger over losing my mom to pancreatic cancer. The cloud of grief casts its shadow on my life from time to time. And I still miss my mom a lot. But it doesn’t hurt as much as it once did.



  1. I too lost my mom to lung cancer 4 years ago May 13th, 2006. She was my best friend and I miss her so much. She fought with chemo and radiation and I saw her go through sickness and pain. I was there by her side through everything and me and my sister were there beside her when she took her last breath. It still hurts me to talk about it to this day. I was 2 months pregnant with my son when she passed away and I was devastated as my son would be her first grandson and I sooo deeply wanted her to meet him. I now believe that my son is my Angel and my niece had her baby May 31st and my brother had his baby May 11th the same month. SO we were all blessed with babies to distract us somewhat and they have been such a blessing for our family. I feel like my mom had a hand in this.

    It so weird, I just started my blog today and I simply typed in “mom” in the search box and yours popped out at me and here I am. It’s nice to know someone out there understands 🙂

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