Posted by: Kathy | February 24, 2011

Reopening Wounds

I go to church every Sunday. I am fortunate to have found a church where I really feel at home. I’ve always thought of church as being a safe place. However, last Sunday something happened that reopened every single wound I have surrounding the death of my mom and other things associated with it.

Although things have gotten easier for me, I have not gotten over my mom’s death, and I don’t think I ever will. The way she died, what pancreatic cancer reduced her to, still haunts me at times. As of today, she has been gone for 2 years, 3 months, and 8 days, and there are some days when I still cannot believe she’s really gone. It’s been a long road of recovery for me and I’ve managed to close the wounds surrounding my mom’s death, although they will never heal completely.

Last Sunday as I was walking out of church, an older woman who I’ve spoken with before was waiting for me. She specifically told me so. As we walked back to where our cars were parked she started asking me questions about my father, who was not in church that day, and the talk eventually led to my mother, how she died, and how difficult this all must be for me. Even when I started to cry in front of this woman, she continued talking and probing. By the time our conversation was over, every wound I had surrounding the loss of my mom was wide open and painfully raw. I had been traumatized again by my mom’s death, taken back to those final days of her life, and felt like all the progress I had made in healing was gone. I was emotionally drained and cried the entire way home. I still have not recovered completely from this encounter or been able to close the wounds again.

I know that I could have stopped this conversation at any time, politely told this woman that I could not answer her questions or talk about this topic because it’s still too painful. But I was completely caught off guard and then did not have the strength to stop the conversation. Church is also a place that reminds me of my mom. She took my brother and I to church when we were younger and taught us about her faith, and some of the hymns we sing remind me of her. I typically find myself thinking of my mom during the 25 minute drive to church every Sunday. Plus, I was taught to respect my elders. So, at the time, I was powerless.

I miss my mom terribly right now, as this conversation has accentuated the loss I feel. I find that tears come easily these days, although I try not to let them fall, and there is a heaviness surrounding my heart. I will never let this type of conversation happen again, and if one does start I will put an immediate stop to it. I only talk about my mom’s death with certain people, ones who I feel safe with, those who would never hurt me. I have to somehow believe that this woman didn’t intentionally try to hurt me, that she just wanted someone to talk to, no matter what the topic happened to be.

Is church still a safe place for me? Inside the church, yes, but outside is a different story now, as I am left hurting, trying to repair the damage that was done, and close the wounds surrounding my mom’s loss and all that’s associated with it once again.



  1. Kathy & Wendy,
    It just amazes me at how thoughtless people can be. Regardless, if someone just wants someone to talk to or not, you do not deserve to be grilled about your losses. My mom passed away in 1970, when I was 18, and I still miss her everyday of my life. There have been so many things I have wanted to share with her and my life has never been the same. But, you honor them each day by remembering, remember the little things they did every day to make your life special, remember their beautiful smiles, loving touches and warm hugs. They are forever in our hearts, and they will “live” there every day for the rest of our lives. My wish for the both of you is comfort, peace and joy. I know you have lost a lot of joy in just the everyday things, but if you let it it will be back.

    I guess it is about time to let you know the reason I was “trolling” your blog in the first place. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, I had surgery on June 4th, 2010. A friend of mine suggested I start writing a blog, because of some of the posts I do on facebook, so I was checking out blogs in general to see how they worked and I came upon yours. I am very concerned for what my husband has to go thru so I thought your perspective would be a help. After reading your blog, I am going to try to do one…I have a story of hope for many…as, right now I am doing ok. They removed the body & tail of my pancreas, spleen, 8″ of intestine & 6 lymph nodes. Although, the pancreatic cancer was removed they discovered that I also have incurable non-hodgkins lymphoma. I know the road ahead will be rocky, but I am thankful for everyone & everything I have and I am going to try to make a difference in whatever way I can. I will close in saying your mother was a very lucky lady to have such a loving daughter, I only wish I were as lucky…I have no children. Sunshine, peace & love…Becky

  2. Dear Kathy, You are so right, you should only talk about your mom with those you feel a real connection to and feel safe. I too am going through this and more. People at work have no clue what it’s like to take care of someone who is sick and what a terrible heartache is left for the person who tried to save their loved one and couldn’t. So I would never talk to them about my mom. No one really knows what we are feeling and so at times conversations just feel awkward. I want to run from my desk and just cry in the bathroom. I do the same think I keep replaying my mom’s last month…..I am sickened with thinking I could have saved her earlier. I just saw a review for this book called A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates and think I’m going to get this book it’s about grief and she writes “I must think of grief as an illness, an illness to be overcome.” I hope we both can find our way to do this. sending you best regards, Wendy

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