Posted by: Kathy | September 23, 2011

The Question of Time

The idea for this blog came from a comment on my last post. For many of us who have lost loved ones, time continues to pass, but we don’t fully heal. It’s been almost 3 years since I lost my mom, but I haven’t fully healed. Maybe I never will. I watched pancreatic cancer take away the only mother I’ve ever had, slowly and painfully. I lost someone I loved and admired, and I never realized what a huge role my mom played in my life until she was gone.

There are people in my life who thought I would have healed from my mom’s death after a few months. There are people in my life who don’t understand why I haven’t fully healed when it’s been 3 years since my mom died. But then there are others who do understand. Many of those people are the ones who visit my site. For that, I am grateful. There’s always that question of time. How long will it take someone to heal from the death of a loved one? There is no real answer for that question, as everyone heals at their own pace, feeling different emotions at different times, weathering the ups and downs of loss.

For me, I’ve dealt a lot with anger. Anger that my mom is gone. Angry at God for taking my mom away from me. Angry when I see women older than my mom living healthy lives. Angry at people who don’t respect their moms and the gift they still have. Of course, the feelings of grief and loss have also been prominent. I have good days and bad days. Days where I miss my mom more than I can describe in words. I am heading into a rough time of the year. My mom’s birthday just passed, and now there will be reminders of the hospitalizations, her last months with us, that last night, and finally my mom’s death.

For me, my time of true healing came a few months ago when I had a horrible dream. I awoke gasping for air because I was crying so hard in the dream. It was the first dream I had in which my mom was dead. But I believe that my mom sent me this dream because she wanted me to move forward with my life. She gave me a kick in the butt, so to speak, and told me to start living again. I remember all of that dream, and haven’t dreamt of my mom since then. But what I remember most from that dream is how beautiful the place was, as everything was bathed in a soft golden light and it was very peaceful. I believe my mom was trying to tell me that she is ok.

Things have gotten easier, and with time I do believe that the pain will lessen even more. I have accepted my mom’s death. I have accepted that she is not coming back and that I won’t see her again until I reach Heaven one day. I will always miss her, always love her, and forever keep my mom’s memory alive.



  1. I read recently that grief never goes away; it just changes shape. That is how I would describe my feelings since losing my Mom on February 20, 2010. The ache of her absence still stings and ambushes me when I least expect it. I am still struggling to accept that she will never come back, but I have a hole in my heart that I don’t believe will every completely heal. Like you, my Mom was a huge part of my life; much more of an influence than I even realized.

    In January of this year, I made a conscious effort to resume some of my dreams again. It was terrifying and I was filled with anxiety. But in the simple acts of doing, I rediscovered parts of me that I had feared might never return.

    Get over it? Never. Heal completely from the loss? Really?

    On the outside, I will continue to pick up the pieces and go on. It is what my Mom would want. And I have three daughters. They need me and are watching me navigate through grief. But inside, I am forever changed. Losing Mom and others I have loved is part of who I am now. That is life…beautiful, heartbreaking, precious and sadly, all too short.

    • Hi Angie: Your comment sounds so much like me, what I’m feeling, what I am now realizing. For me it took a scary but also peaceful, very eye opening dream to propel me forward into picking up the pieces and moving forward into reality. Plus, my family deserves more of me as a wife and a mother. I am slowly returning to who I once was, feeling more like myself. I lost 5 people in 8 years, it was a lot to deal with and accept.

      You’re right in that grief still comes and ambushes me at times. It did last week and I think it was just a build up of everything, along with knowing what feelings may hit me in the months to come. But this time around, I plan to use these feelings and fulfill my dream – finish writing my book about my experiences with my mom’s illness and death, and then healing afterward. Hopefully, one day I can get it published.

      Thanks for your comment. ~ Kathy

  2. Hi Kathy, I’m reading your last post and that of a fellow Canadian Sarah and I feel myself so at home at your blog. I feel so less alone when reading your feelings and experiences. I like the last reader have fallen prey to depression. I’m unable to see that life holds some wonderful things still ahead of me. I can’t at times accept that I have no parents. I still can not look at photos with my mom, I want her back! I haven’t reached where you are. I still have the weirdest of dreams with my mom. But I don’t feel peace at all. I am glad that you are writing about this and wish you only continued peace as well. hugs wendy

    • Hi Wendy: I understand what you’re saying. There were times when I didn’t think I’d ever stop crying or get over the loss of my mom. I had to accept my mom’s death and the fact she wasn’t coming back. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I did it for my mom. It is what she would have wanted. I know that now, especially from talking with her friends, my family, and my pastor. I know my mom comes to visit me from time to time, just drops in, and I know she wouldn’t want me to be unhappy all the time.

      Writing this blog has helped me, and I think writing my book will provide some degree of closure. Having people who understand has helped me to heal. I will never fully get over what pancreatic cancer did to my mom or her death and that’s ok. I love her and will always miss her, and there are days when the reminders are very strong. I just try to keep moving forward the best way I can.

      One day you will see the wonderful things life holds for you. You will be able to look at pictures of your mom and remember the happy times you shared together. But all this will happen on your time and when you are ready.

      I wish you all the best. Take care. ~ Kathy

  3. Thinking of you and dreading at least a little the run up to the first birthdays, the first christmas’ but trying to let it be and let timer do its work.

    • For me, the firsts were the hardest. The seconds got better but were still hard. For some holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s the fourth for me without my mom. I always think of her and how she should be with us. As you go through these firsts, whatever you are feeling (sadness, anger, etc) is ok and it’s important to just let yourself feel. I spent almost the entire first year after my mom died worried about everyone else and how they were doing. I didn’t allow myself to grieve for what I had lost. I cried a lot, but didn’t acknowledge or recognize what I was feeling inside. I did what I thought was right at the time, but I should have let myself grieve too. It’s important to allow yourself to grieve for what you lost and move through it.

      Take care and I hope these firsts for you aren’t too painful. ~ Kathy

  4. Hi Kathy,
    Your timeline with your Mom echo’s my own situation so closely. My Mom would have celebrated her 68th birthday this past Wednesday (Sept 21). It was a birthday she was dreading because her own mother had passed away from a heart attack a few months after turning 68.

    She would come to visit me and her grandchildren twice a year, the spring and fall. September was one of her times to visit with us. The 2 weeks we had with her in September of 2009 was our last visit, though we didn’t know it then.

    We celebrated our birthdays together (mine is Oct 2) by going out to dinner at a nice restaurant (just the 2 of us! A luxury I rarely get to enjoy). It was at the beginning of our visit and happened to fall on the day before her birthday.

    By the end of her 2 week visit she’d lost a dramatic amount of weight, was complaining of headaches and horrible hip pain and thought she was coming down with a bad sinus infection. The cancer was in her bones by then and causing her blood to thicken and cause clotting on her brain. I know that now… It’s all I think of when I look at those pictures.

    When I look back on pictures of that visit, I can see the decline in her health over the 2 week period. Of course, I didn’t notice it then. I was busy with an active 3 year old and a crabby toddler… I took my Mom’s presence for granted a lot of the time. I had started to have bad premonitions of her passing earlier that year, but figured I was hormonal and never spoke to her about my concerns. She’s the only parent I have and we were so very close. Maybe I was just having anxiety.

    She was back home in early October. In hospital with sudden pnuemonia at Thanksgiving. Coughing blood. Doctor felt maybe a bone scan would be a good idea. A month wait for that (yeah, the Canadian health care system is free – how wonderful! – but the waits are alarming and heartwrenchingly inhuman!!!!). On November 19th she was diagnosed. On Jan 2 she died. I watched cancer eat her alive. And she was scared. So scared. And so angry.

    Now at Christmas, when I hang the ornaments on the tree that she passed down to me, I can’t let my boys see my tears. Christmas is supposed to be happy and they’ve seen me break down far too often over the last couple of years. But it’s all I can think of – where I was 2 years ago. Where she was 2 years ago.

    I sometimes think that my it’s my way of punishing myself for not doing more for her, not being a better daughter throughout our life together. I wonder when I’ll be able to be at peace with the thought that she’s not going to call or visit anymore. I just miss her so very much. Fall used to be my favourite time of year, and now the depression I feel is almost overwhelming.

    I’m happy for you that you’ve been able to find some peace with your Mom’s death. It gives me some hope for myself.

    Take care of yourself and your beautiful family.

    Sarah Proulx

    • Hi Sarah: Thanks for your comment. I am able to relate to a lot of what you said. Watching my mom deteriorate before my eyes and not being able to doing anything about it was awful. Now, when I look at pictures, I see it more than I did then – that look of cancer. I think it’s because I saw my mom almost every day during the last month of her life. I have a picture of her from Halloween and she looks like a skeleton; she died about 2 weeks later.

      For me, Christmas is my favorite time of year and my mom would make Christmas so special. This holiday will never be the same for me because my mom is not here. This year will be my fourth Christmas without her. It’s was only last year that I really tried to make an effort for the kids. Just because I’m hurting doesn’t mean they should too. It still hurts that my mom isn’t at our table on Christmas day or sharing in the joy of opening presents with her grandchildren.

      It does get easier, but there are always reminders.

      Take care ~Kathy

  5. I dreamed last night that I was trapped in a shark’s teeth, with my head and part of my torso hanging out of his mouth. I struggled and made my way all the way out, but I was a mess, physically and emotionally. I think the shark in the dream is a symbol of the grief process for me, with the way it has been trapped now but I am struggling to get free. And once I do emerge, I will be both freed and scarred at the same time. I don’t think people “heal” after the death of a loved one; I think they are forever changed by it but that that doesn’t mean they (we) can’t lead a good life in spite of the scars. Thanks for this post!

    • Hi Stephanie. Thanks for sharing your dream. I think your interpretation is really insightful. I agree that we are forever scarred by grief, especially if we lose someone very close to us or traumatically. I will never forget the last night of my mom’s life. I also agree that we don’t fully heal. I was speaking with a friend this weekend who lost her dad many years ago. She knew my mom and she knows how I’ve struggled. She understands, and agreed that we never completely heal, we just keep moving forward. My mom’s death has forever changed me in so many ways. I think it’s also changed my son, since he had such a close relationship with his grandmother. Things have gotten easier, but there will always be a hole in my life where my mom once was and there is no one who can fill that hole.

      If you want to read my weird dream, see

      Thanks for leaving a comment. ~Kathy

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