Monday, January 24, 2011

Think Before You Send...On Grieving

I am going to continue on this little mini-series that I started because I have been receiving such great feedback and comments on this topic, that I feel there is a need right now.

On February 11, 2010 my wonderful mother Virginia passed away quickly and peacefully in her home where she wanted to die. In spite of having cancer throughout her body, she never complained about pain, only about having to be in bed all the time, she wanted up and moving and she did now and then.

I was on my way to spend her last days with her and just going through the security check point at the airport when I received the call...she had just slipped away peacefully. The last words she said was when she told her husband, 'I love you.' He went out to do some yard work and 15 minutes later, she was gone.

I am a manager....I take care of business and my husband and I decided I would stay at my moms until things were settled a bit. I can tell you it was the longest plane ride and lay over I had ever experienced in my mom was gone.

I got to the airport, we had dinner, then stopped by the funeral home and I said my last good-byes, it was so hard to do, but for some reason, I just had to see my mom one last time. The next day it was having all the medical equipment picked up, making the phone calls, talking to family friends I haven't talked to in years, but mom kept in touch with and sharing stories.

My brother came later in the week for a few days and we spent time brother makes this awesome Mexican spaghetti and we had a great dinner and talked and laughed. After he left, moms hub and I took care of business as much as he wanted to.

Back home, there were calls to return, cards came in from friends and even friends from mom and it was comforting to know they cared and loved her so much.

This is where it stopped. I understand being on vacation or out of town and sending a card a month after the death of someone you know, but if you haven't sent a card out within the first 3 months or so, don't bother. Why dredge painful memories up for people? Why open those wounds that are just beginning to see happiness in memories again?

I received a sympathy card with a Christmas card (10 months after mom passed on) from a person I have never met, will never meet, didn't know who they were and it began with a run down of their family history and at the bottom I finally found out who they were and how they knew my mom.

Ten months after my mother passed away? What purpose did it serve? I still am confused on this one. If you knew my mom, you would know she had pen pals everywhere and yet, aside from close family friends and neighbors, no one felt the need to send me a sympathetic Christmas card. Many didn't send cards and that was fine, I don't mind as they just make me cry.

Maybe I am being silly, but what I am saying, is use good judgement. Ask yourself, will this make the receiver feel better knowing I care or will it leave them wondering why I waited so long or who I am? Perhaps I should pick up the telephone and express my feelings in a short conversation.

I don't know about anyone else how long is to long, but for me it seems just as I start to heal and think of my mom without bawling my eyes out, I get a card out of the blue from someone I don't know again. It leaves me a bit miffed and confused because the time has been so long.

What does anyone else say? Should it be a year or more? Should we send cards to people we have never met and know nothing about? Let me know, maybe I am just being silly, but I know so many people grieve in different ways, but for me, everyday I feel my moms absence, I don't need cards to remind me she is gone.


IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

If it were not that note that reminded you she is gone....I'm certain there would have been something else to bring up the pain of loss. I think it is that pain of the loss that got touched and that pain can be so intense at times.

I'm sorry you lost your mother and that you hurt. I am glad she died peacefully and was able to share her love all the way to the end.

The problem with asking yourself, would it help or hurt?, is that the answer only applies to you. Another person could have received the card and been completely thrilled.


autumnesf said...

Although I do hear what you are saying, I look at it a little different. Those first few holidays and death anniversaries are so very hard for the survivors. Maybe it was a way to reach out at a time they expected you to be having a hard time. Just like you reach out to your mothers husband as much as you can now....just different. And as weird as it is (and I'm not saying this is the case in this situation) I've heard our Father's voice tell me to slip something like that in the mail at bizzarre times. Its always ended up being a blessing and I always knew later that it was a for sure God Wink....Maybe you were laid on their heart at this time for some reason?

Anyways, so sorry about your pain. I lost my dad 2 Christmas' ago so I understand. Although I think losing a mother is probably much more profound for women.

Hugs! Try not to be too hard on the person. After all, it does show that 10 months later they still have your mother on their mind also. She must have been well loved.

Quiltingranny said...

Thanks so much to Autumn and Kelly for reminding me that just because I didn't accept this so well, doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. I guess in reality, it all goes back to the way one grieves and what they are feeling at the moment. Thank you both so much!

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, in one post you are mad because people say get over it and in the next you are mad because people offer sympathy?

Patty said...

Anonymous, I don't mean to speak for Jean, but for myself, I lost my father in March and in December got a card expressing how much the sender missed my dad also and they were thinking of me. I don't think Jean is saying she's mad, just didn't understand why someone she doesn't know well would add such a comment, sounding like an afterthought, in a Christmas card. Not everyone grieves in the same manner. I still cry anytime I think of my father and the first anniversary of his death is going to be so hard for me. Sometimes it's helpful when people come up to me and say they miss dad too and say something special they remember about him.