My mother says I’m not grieving enough

It’s really hard to be around my mother right now. Not that she’s ever been the easiest person to get along with general. She’s stubborn, a tireless martyr and a right fighter. Oh and she always wins, because well, her voice is the loudest. When my dad died a little over six months ago, as he lay in a comatose state, and while we still held out hope yet knew he was nearing the end of his days, I vividly recall my mother saying, “None of us have enough time. There’s never enough time to be with those you love.” And at that moment I thought after years of his chronic health problems, she was making peace with the fact that we were going to lose my father, and acknowledging that whether he died at 68 or at 88– it would still feel like there was never enough time to spend with him. We’d always want more; one last kiss, one last chance to say we loved him, one last chance to see a twinkle in his eye, one last chance to see him hug his grand kids, one last time to see him curse out Alex Trebek for seeming so arrogant while telling players they got answers wrong- while he held cards with the answers– that was my dad. And losing him at 68 has changed the trajectory of all of our lives. I think death in a family does that– it just changes everything.

For me– it’s forced me to re-evaluate the limits I put on myself, and the relationships I hold dear. It’s brought my tolerance for other people’s bull-shit and bad energy to zero and so, if I don’t feel like being in a situation where I know I’ll be uncomfortable- where I would have sucked it up in the past now I just won’t do it. It’s made me realize how utterly short our time is here, and that once the switch on our life is turned off, that’s it, we’re done.

I want to say I believe in the afterlife– and I am forever looking for pennies, butterflies, some sign from my dad– but sadly I’ve gotten nothing- and I guess right now, at this moment in time- I believe this is it. The right here and now- it’s all we have and all we can truly enjoy. And oddly enough that was the attitude my dad had – one I never could quite grasp. He never seemed to truly allow any situation to get him mired in sadness, pity or doubt. He just moved along, whistling, (Hand to Gd he really did whistle) and being this incredibly optimistic force. I miss him like crazy cakes- I want to talk to him every day, I want to hear someone call me Mel, I want to hug his tiny, frail body, I want to see his toothless grin ( he’d scare us and take out his dentures and smile every so often ) I want to wrap my arms around him and tell him how grateful I am for all the times I never told him how much I appreciated him- like when I drove my car to Georgia, and it died on me- and I flew back on a plane and my daddy saved the day and drove down there and brought it back up. My daddy, my hero the first man I ever loved. I miss him but I can’t spend every day doing this. Crying, feeling spiteful, angry at the universe, angry that he was taken, angry that he’s not here to share in the joys of my kids. I can’t walk around in a haze of sorrow and self pity because, that would be antithetical to the way he lived his life.

My mother of course has buried herself in her sadness, she will not allow any of us to penetrate it, she says she doesn’t see how any of us can laugh or go on with our lives. Most of the time I’m going on and smiling and doing all the things you do on an ordinary day or when you’re in the company of others because honestly nobody wants to be around someone who is so wrapped up in sadness. None of us want to be reminded on a daily basis that this life is shorter than we can comprehend and that death will sooner than we’d like affect someone we love. We all want to walk around, obsess about the mundane focus on what we can see, feel and hear- and not feel the heavy weight of death coloring our every waking moment. I can’t live like that. I won’t live like that. My father just wouldn’t approve. Wherever he is, if he indeed is anywhere- if a soul does live on in some form or energy I want to believe he is soaring, like a starburst, just all light and love- and that is how I want to experience every day on this planet.

I don’t need to grieve, without my father, grief has become an integral part of who I am, I think in the wake of a loved one’s death it simply becomes a part of your new normal.


  1. says

    This is very true. I lost my daughter over 4 years ago and every one experiences grief differently. For me, it has also just become part of who I am. I’m not one to cry in front of others but I usually feel like the grief is written across my face some how.

  2. says

    Hugs to you. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. I also think that losing a parent is probably different than losing a spouse… not easier, but different. You’re grieving just the right amount for you. I believe that your dad would want you to honor his life by living yours joyfully. It’s not easy to do when you’re missing him so much, but all you can do is try.

  3. says

    this year was 20 years since my mother passed. I break down, as if she only died last week, when I say Kaddish. My grandmother once told me to ‘get over it’. She lost her child, surely she must grieve more than I, so maybe I was carrying on too much. But I lost my mommy, that should count for something, yes?

    It took almost a year before I ‘saw’ my mother after she died. I was driving to work and I looked over and to this day I, on G-d’s name I vow this is true, saw my mother driving the car next to me. Over the years, she has come to me in different ways but always in public and never when I was looking for her.

    Your father will come to you, too. Don’t look for him, I assure you he will find you. Those are the words my mother told me her bubbie said to her when she was a child and missed her zayde. Over the years my mother encountered her zayde several times, and each time he told her something only he would know but led the family to some discovery. It was his way of making people believe my mother.

    My mother doesn’t say much when I see her. But she comes to me at times only a mother would know to come. I just know you dad will come to you when the time is right. And when he does, it won’t matter if any believes you. Just believe in what you see.

  4. says

    A lovely post, beautifully written. Grief is probably the most personal thing you can go through. And no one – NO ONE – can tell you how to do it, feel it, survive it.
    Seems to me you are doing just fine: feeling the sadness but not letting it overtake you, learning the lesson that life can end at any moment, and having it inspire you, rather than frighten you.
    You are amazing.

  5. says

    To each his own, and never more true when it comes to grief.
    I know that I kept my grief a personal thing, spent journeys alone in the car crying over loss …
    Lived one life, while holding another dear in my heart, closed up from the world …
    it worked, little by little, I let more go …
    but no one can tell you how to grieve, or to love or to live …
    You make your own road.
    Beautiful post, and maybe you will work thro it all in your words …

  6. Meredith says

    Oy, your poor mother…seems like she has given up. She has lost her life partner and now, that her children are grown with families of their own, she is alone.

    I also think that the loss of a spouse, especially after being together for so many years, is different then the loss of a parent. We expect to lose our parents as that is the natural order of things, and though you have to grieve, you also have to go on with your lives because of the people who depend on you, you have people to live for…your spouses and children.

    No one but you can tell you how to grieve or when you have grieved enough….maybe never…but you don’t have the luxury of letting that grief consume you completely and so you learn to live with it.

  7. elissapr says

    Grieving takes many different forms – and none can really be judged. You’ve chosen to write about it, express your feelings and ensure that life goes on – for you and your family. I suppose you can choose to live through grief – or let it take over you. I’d say you’re making the right choice.


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