Last month August 30th, marked the four year anniversary of the passing of my mother. She died suddenly of a brain aneurysm two days after her birthday. There were issues with her overall health over the years that lead up to her untimely death, she suffered with immense amounts of stress being a single parent to the six children she had with my father. The last time I spoke to her, I could sense she was very tired, and my intuition told me prepare for the worst but you can never fully prepare for losing a loved one. Every year as soon as August hits, a feeling comes over me that I have difficulty acknowledging…..It’s not that I don’t have closure with her passing, it’s the memories of how my closure came about that still haunt me.
I have the tendency to “intellectualize” my feelings when it comes to death, partly because I haven’t had much experience dealing with death in my life, it wasn’t discussed in my household growing up. I had never even been to a “Wake” before or even a funeral, believe it or not. I always wondered how people were able to cope with the death of a loved one, especially a relative or a parent. I’ve heard stories from friends about family members “acting out,” or acting “crazy,” and drama ensuing for years after a relative’s death. I tried to imagine what it would be like to deal with, but I just couldn’t picture it happening in my life.
The news of my mother’s death was painful to hear, but a light bulb went on in my head, it’s hard to explain in words. My focus became doing right by her and putting my emotions second, even if that meant taking blows for not “going along” with my siblings. I knew standing on my own would have consequences. Since I’ve always been the “quiet one,” my speaking up had already caused some friction among us, which overlapped this tragic situation.
While at the scene on that day, looking at the house I grew up in, police and ambulance workers scattered about, my siblings all different, some angry, some crying, some ignoring me as I attempted to calm them down, I knew I had to keep it together. I accepted the fact that the only control I had, was the control I have over my emotions. I had to exercise all the lessons, the logic my mother taught me since she was not around to speak for herself. I felt my main priority was to represent for her, and do what was best for her, and her loved ones that knew her before I did.
I chose to cry at home and let out all my pain and frustration in private. This angered some of my siblings because they felt I should be with them. They lashed out at me and questioned why I did this, which was very draining to me, this was the most challenging and difficult part of my grieving. I felt as though I was at war.
My mother’s death for me, was about protecting her legacy, and representing her the best way I could. I called all of her siblings and spoke to them, because I knew they were distraught and I wanted to remind them not to worry, as mom wouldn’t want them to, that was just her way. One of my aunts told me I helped her feel better, and that made me feel great. At the Wake, I looked after all the guests and I tried to uplift the people who were very sad. Some people that I hadn’t seen in ages were crying so hard, I felt bad for them! I listened to their stories about my mother and I realized how much of a positive effect my mom had on everybody she met.
After the funeral, I was ready to deal with the aftermath, the organizing of her belongings, the paperwork, etc. I had no problem working with my siblings as I’ve always been co-operative and easy going when it comes to team work, but some of them would not allow me to lead, which was disappointing. I wanted to lead by example and make things easier for all of us. I went ahead and did some tasks alone, or with my youngest auntie, Auntie G, who’s always been supportive of me, and now our bond is even stronger.
Unfortunately, there is still unfinished business regarding mom’s passing, and my relationships with my siblings will never be the same, but if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing, mom deserved it.
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