You’ve got that right, Murphy. Grief can really fuck us up. You either work through your grief or it will surly work you. I believe I heard that for the first time in a grief share counseling at my family’s church.
My father passed away almost 6 years ago and similar to your parents, they had been together for 30+ years and it was devastating for my entire family. I am the oldest of three and have a younger sister and brother.
I remember the first year and how all we wanted to do was stay close to each other. As time passed though something started to shift. Those get together’s that felt so safe started feeling hostile and dreaded. My brother, sister and I would get weekly msg’s from My Mom; each with teary voicemail's asking us why we don’t come around. What should have been special little surprises that she loved without warning though would become these incredibly selfish and emotional attacks on us kids. I remember one time specifically saying to my brother “hey so when are you going to come have lunch with me and see my new office?” …. which she interupted and snapped at with “well I’m glad at least you guys are having lunch with each other …. this family is just falling apart.” Ugh it would be so, so frustrating. Everything we were or weren’t doing for her was wrong… it was always about how the 3 of us are hurting her and forgetting her. If we even tried to defend ourselves she’d instantly fall apart and become hysterical, reminding us… “she lost her husband and cannot take this emotional abuse.” She even went so far as to tell our good family friends that us kids had abandoned her.. that she was a fool all these years because she thought she had relationships with each of us too but that clearly not so. That our actions now have been a big wake up for her and it’s clear we all worshiped and loved our father but now that he’s gone, there is no longer a need to get together or come home anymore.”
…Exhausting. You understand.
But what I wanted to tell you is, it does eventually get better. As miserable and trying as those years are, grief is a process and your Mom has to go through it.
What you said above about how it feels like you’ve lost your Mom now as well, I know that feeling all too well and it’s heartbreaking. Losing a father is devastating and a very hard, trying time for every family. What no one prepares you for though is how your family dynamic as you knew is is now going to be flipped on it’s ass.
Your family is unfortunately right in the eye of that storm. Don’t give up on your Mom right now, as selfish and hurtful as she is she’s just hurting and let’s face it … hurt / grief … it can make people so some crazy things.
I’ll leave you with this ….
In early January 2016 my Mom asked me if I wanted to take a trip to TX to visit my Uncle. On the plane out the told me she has something she wanted to tell me… “that Pat is back.” I didn’t understand at first so she went on to explain… she was always a happy person who enjoyed being active and had confidence in herself. That she lost all of that when my Dad died and that everyday since she has been struggling to remember who she even is, what her purpose is for being here, without her husband who is she?
It’s taken 5 years but I can honestly say that my Mom, the hard working, opinionated confidant women I bucked heads with through my teenage years and that my Dad adored; is truly back. She just turned 60 and we threw her a gorgeous birthday party to celebrate. She spends her free time now with her new golf friends, grief share friends, and her church. She sees a therapist and she is 100% addicted to jazzercise… her perfect cocktail I guess lol. And she has even recently introduced us to a nice man she’s been starting to spend time with.
She will always love having her kids home but now when it’s time for us to go she can breathe again and remember how much she also loves knowing that when we do leave her, we are leaving to go build successful and fulfilling lives of our own. It’s no longer a personal attack on her and she knows we all love her and are so thankful to have her. She acknowledges now that we all lost a man we loved so much and that we have all been fighting to just keep going without having him in our lives.
I wish you and your family the very best and will pray for your Mom. I hope she can build a support system around her that will help to give her the strength she needs to get up and fight through her grief everyday. It takes some time but don’t lose hope because as I’m sure you have realized as well, family really is everything.