Jump to content

Young Widow Forum

Register to view blogs.

Sign in to follow this  

First my wife, now my mother - some observations

Recommended Posts

As you may recall from previous posts, my wife Rhonda died in December, 2016, at the age of 49 from an aggressive cervical cancer.  Her unexpected loss and the disbelief that accompanied it are the reasons why I first came here - and why I keep coming back.  So many stories so similar to mine have helped me feel less alone and more able to carry on in a world I never imagined.  Through the hurt and sadness has come a sense of comfort and solidarity that can only be experienced, I've found, with others who have similarly lost the most important person in their life.  For me, my wife will forever be that person.  Of that, I am convinced, especially now....


On October 28th, my mother passed away after a long illness.  She was an amazing woman who, after her divorce to my father when I was just 7 years old, raised my sister and I on her own and never remarried.  We were her life.  I have told people that, in less than two years, I have lost the only two people in my life who dedicated theirs to loving and caring for me.  It's a stunning realization that has set me back a bit in my grieving process.  But it's true - the only two people in my life who dedicated theirs to loving and caring for me are now gone.  This is not to say, however, that each loss has been equally as devastating.


I need to share how very different the two experiences have been for me, especially considering how close together their respective deaths were.  First and foremost, my mother's death was expected.  She was 80 and had suffered with COPD and had been on oxygen therapy for 8 years.  Her death was logical.  My wife's death, on the other hand, will never make sense to me.  It was not expected and I was completely unprepared for the myriad of changes there would be to my everyday life.  To that end, Rhonda's diagnosis and death 8 months later was not logical.


But is that the only reason why I find my mother's death infinitely less difficult to accept and process than my wife's - because she was old?  I still have yet to really cry since my mother died, whereas I still lose it from time to time with Rhonda.  And sometimes I feel guilty about that.  They both loved me unconditionally, and both shaped and molded me into the person I have become.  I owe so much to my mother for everything she had done to raise me, and for all the sacrifices.  So why is her passing not been as hard on me emotionally?  Again, where is the logic?


I sometimes tell myself that I'm just all cried out, that the tears and sadness for my mother's loss are still to come.  Perhaps they will, but I remind myself of something I often told people in the months after Rhonda died, especially those who haven't gone through the loss of a spouse.  Regardless of what you or others may expect of you, there is no instruction manual for how to feel and manage all the emotions experienced in grief.  "You feel what you feel", and do your best to cope.  You feel what you feel...


On the one year anniversary of losing my wife, I confided to my family that the overwhelming fear and uncertainty I experienced for several months after losing Rhonda had lessened to the point I was almost undaunted by whatever might happen going forward.  It was partly an acceptance of what cannot be changed, but also of knowing even then that there will never be anything more painful the rest of my life.  And now that I've just lost my mother, I can now hold that to be true.





  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post

Hi Steve,

This was so powerful to read.


I have also had very different responses to my partner's death and to my mother's.


My partner died suddenly at 40 when our kids were three and six. Then 18 months later my died of the cancer she'd had for 8 years at 69.


The day after the second anniversary of my mom's death I realized I had forgotten it. I have the date of my partner's death seared into my head. A woman I know pointed out this made sense since the first death was a kind of trauma that the second just wasn't. Even though my mom was way too young and it came so soon after this first loss.


At this point, six years after my partner's death, it is my mom who I miss more on a day to day basis. But it is a different kind of missing to be sure and thinking about those differences helped me feel better about the different ways I have grieved.


What a bumpy ride all around!





Share this post

Link to post

I lost my wife when she was 39, two and a half years ago.  It was an unexpected death and incredibly difficult.  My father died suddenly two months ago, at the age of 73 and I can echo some of your experiences mentioned above.  I had a great relationship with my dad, he was a great guy, a great father and grandfather.  I did cry some when my father passed, but it is entirely different than losing a spouse, not the same level of intensity of loss whatsoever for me.  I've been more focused on being there for my mother.  My dad died 6 days before their 50th anniversary and they did everything together .  I chatted with my mom about this exact topic this morning.  Hugs to all of you,

Share this post

Link to post

My husband died in a vehicle accident.  7 years come Jan.  My mother passed in Nov. 2017 at 88 from congestive heart failure and 6 months in hospice. She had vascular dementia that was, of course, worsening.  I miss my mother, but she had been dependent for several years and required dementia unit care.  Losing her was nothing like my husband.  I miss my life with him so much.  My son was 8 when his dad died. I grieve because of so much loss. My mom was my number one cheerleader for so long until she couldn't be.  I took care of her 6 years then as a widow with my son.  I know she lived a long and mostly joyful life.  It was more natural for my mother, though still hard with the ups and downs in hospice.  For me, her loss was still natural. What I hope for.  A long life and my body or mind slowly gives out.  No major trauma here.  


Everyone is different.  The loneliness can be there regardless of age or circumstances of the death.  Complex, indeed. 

Share this post

Link to post

I lost my dad unexpectedly in 2007. My husband died in 2011. To this day it it still seems unreal that 4 years later my husband would be the first family member to follow my father to the grave. Grieving for each was different. I believe it was because my father was older. Naturally I miss both but it is my husband's death that has the most impact on me. 


Share this post

Link to post

You expect to outlive your parents. You don't expect to outlive your spouse, your life partner. EVERYTHING changes with the death of a spouse who is your soulmate. NOTHING is ever the same again

With the death of a parent, no matter how close you wete, changes some things but definitelynot everything.  I  was not in the least bit surprised by the vastly different reactions you express

Hugs to you

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.