What I have learned after losing a parent
The first week of November is the one-week out of the entire year that I hate the most. It’s the one week where I live inside my head and relive all the things that happened that week. That changed my life forever. This is the week that my mother passed away.
The reason why I hate the first week of November. Instead of just the day that my mother died. It is that my mother’s birthday is November 1st and she passed away on November 7th. So for those first 7 Days of November hits me hard and makes me reflect.
If you know me, you know that my mom wasn’t the greatest mom in the world and I resented her for that. I did not like her as a person or as a mom. I always used to say that if my mother were to die I wouldn’t care. That it wouldn’t affect me and I know that was part of the resentment that I had. but on the day of her passing, it affected me way more than I thought it would.
It is November 5th, 2 days before the 6 year anniversary of my mother’s passing.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting beside her bed, with my sister’s hand on her chest, while my brother entertained my nephews. Mikayla was asleep on the couch and Mike watched over her. It was the 7 of us sitting there waiting for that moment.
When the nurse finally called it. We sat there crying. My brother asked to play a song and I thought it was an inappropriate time for that, but I didn’t say it out loud. I’m glad I didn’t though. His song hit hard with me. The song 90% described our relationship with our mother.
I will never forget the song. It was Headlights by Eminem. I tell you this because I listen to that song on repeat all day on the 7th.
In the title of this post, I only put Parent. What I have learned after losing a parent because my father died when I was 2 ½. His death didn’t affect me because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t understand what had happened at that age. I just knew my daddy was gone. Her death affected me more because I spent more time with her. I had 28 years with her compared to the 2 ½ with my father.
Its been 6 years and I still reflect back to discover and learn things to make my current life better. So here is what I learned after losing a parent.
There is no such thing as too many photos
I always got shit for recording videos and taking a lot of pictures. I always had a camera on me. It was partly due to only having a handful of photos of me growing up. There are no home videos.
It broke my heart. So I always made it a point to capture as much as possible with still living in the moment. I love being able to look back to see the fun memories that we may have forgotten about. Which is why we have a Youtube Channel.
I also found a year after my mother passed a video I made talking about when she went to the hospital and coded like 6 times. Its 16-minute video and I have no memory of making this. I am glad that I have it though.
It’s okay to feel relief after death
As much as I didn’t want my mom to die. I felt a sense of relief when she did. It had nothing to do with the countless nights we spent at the hospital, rehab facility or hospice. I knew she was suffering.
I remember nights where my mom would ball her eyes out to me about taking her home and how she didn’t like it at the hospital. Full streams down her face with a breathing tube in her mouth. It broke my heart when she would cry and plead with me.
So when she passed I was relieved for her sake. She was not suffering anymore.
Death can cause family arguments
As a family, we were discussing what our plan was for mom if something were to happen and I left it up to my sister. I did not know what to do. The only deaths I dealt with were my dad’s and step-dad’s deaths. Again I was 2 ½ for my dad’s death and like 10 years old for my step-dad.
I had no clue how to deal with death. I left it up to my sister since she was older. She understood what was going on more than I did.
So, when my mother passed my sister and I stopped talking for about a year. My sister took my mother’s death hard and well I…… had to get back to work. Which made my sister think I was heartless and didn’t care. I didn’t have PTO and had bills to pay.
Everyone grieves in different ways
This ties in with the last one. My sister took my mother’s death hard. I knew I had to get back to work. If I sat too long I would break and I knew I needed to keep moving. I used work as a distraction. My sister took it wrong and got upset that I was not more emotional about it.
I wasn’t emotional about it because I was still in shock that she was no longer here. Although I was there and saw her take her last breath. It didn’t fully hit me til days maybe weeks later. By that time though my sister and I were not talking. She and I had different ways of grieving.
Time heals somewhat, but you do not forget
I hate the saying “time heals”, but it is effin true. On the 7th marks 6 years. It still stings, but not as much. I only get misty-eyed a handful of times a day rather than full-fledged sobbing. It’s an improvement.
The sobbing does eventually happen but not as often now. I am getting emotional writing this. Time does heal, but you do not forget. I remember sights, sounds, and insignificant information. I relive everything during this week.
Rethink life choices and relationships
I think of the kind of life my mother gave me and I don’t want to continue living a life like that. That is why I am such a big advocate of doing a life audit, surrounding yourself with like-mind people. Pushing people toward their goals and removing anything toxic from your life.
My mother never accomplished anything, dream wise. I honestly couldn’t tell you what my mother wanted to be when she was growing up. I honestly don’t really know anything about my mother. Which goes into the next thing I have learned after losing a parent.
You finally realize your parent was a person too
Now that I am older and I have had time to process. I realized I knew nothing about my mother. I mean I know the basics. Where she grew up, she went to a catholic school, that Barry Manilow was her favorite singer. I know who her best friends were, her favorite color, her favorite beer, and cigarettes. She loved talking to scammers on the internet.
Her sister and she stopped talking to each other for a long time. I mean a long time. Longer than my sister and I had stopped talking.
I honestly couldn’t tell you much more off the top of my head. I realize now, I treated her as Donna who gave birth to me, but not Donna the woman. I don’t know why she moved from New Jersey to Florida. I don’t know much about her past, her dreams, what she wanted for the future. I know she had an abusive childhood but she refused to talk about it.
She refused to talk about a lot of things. So I didn’t really “know” my mother. Which also breaks my heart. I took it for granted.
Save stupid things
We knew we were going to get rid of a lot of things at my mother’s apartment, but there was something worth saving.
Before my mother got worse and was in the hospital more frequently. Our relationship got better. I mean I still resented her, but we would hang out. I would stop by and take her to the doctors and food shopping. You know the basics.
When she had cellulitis in her leg and it was hard for her to walk. She would give me a grocery list for her. I tell you this because I still have the LAST grocery list she gave me. I can’t get rid of it. I will never get rid of it.
Her number is also still saved in my phone. I can’t delete it either.
For those of you who know my mother, know she lived in the computer chair. She would roll around in it to vacuum, even before it was hard for her to walk. This past August when my sister moved to South Carolina, we got rid of the computer chair.
I feel like getting rid of that chair makes her death official.
I get upset if people are mean to their parents
There were a couple of years there where Mike didn’t talk to his mother. When my mother passed, he and I had arguments about how he should appreciate that she is still here for him to talk to.
There has been plenty of times where I catch myself thinking like “oh shit, I haven’t talked to my mom in a while”. Then realize as I pick up the phone “idiot, she is not here anymore”. I still catch myself. I am still learning.
I also get really annoyed if I hear people talk about how annoying their parents are. When you lose a parent you are apart of a special club. Your brain switches from “parents are so annoying” to “I wish they were still here to annoy me”.
It gets very frustrating not to yell at everyone “you ungrateful little shits”
Family is everything
In the end, the lesson I have learned after losing a parent is that family is everything. Once my sister and I got past the not talking for a year. We made a pact to have family dinners. We did it every Saturday. If it couldn’t be a Saturday then we did it on Sunday. We always made sure it happened every week.
The family became our priority since it was now us 3 my sister, brother, and I. We were our closest immediate family.
I made it a point to reach out to my cousins I had never met before. So far the only one I met was my cousin Deborah. We did a quick meet and greet in 2018 when Mike, Mikayla and I were on our way back to Florida from Massachusetts. We hung out for hours and it was like we had known each other for years. Although we were friends on Facebook. It didn’t feel like the first time we had met.
My Mother’s sister just passed away this year and my cousin asked if I would come to visit. In September I went up there for 2 weeks and hung out with her. It was great to get to know her and her daughter. We spent a lot of time comparing our mothers and found out that I am more like my Aunt Karen and Deborah was like my mother. Although, we had never met.
My cousin and I quickly became best friends and talk almost every day now. It’s hard to believe in my 34 years of life, I didn’t meet her until I was 33. It was never awkward between us. Again it was like we had known each other our whole lives.
All in All
I would never wish someone to lose a parent, but we all know it eventually happens. It puts things into perspective. It changes the way you think/feel and how you live your life. I have learned a lot after losing a parent.
I wish I could have more time with her, but I don’t want to lose the knowledge I have learned because of her death.
Its time to let go of some of the resentment, because I now know a little bit more about my mom from spending time with Deborah. My mother let her past run her future and because of that made shitty decisions. I can’t be mad at her for that. She was just doing what she thought was best. She did what she could with the hand she was dealt.
I am still trying to learn more about my mother and her past, but the people who could have told us are gone. We are left with unanswered questions that we may never know the answers to. This is what I have learned after losing a parent.
But I leave you with one last word of advice. Enjoy your parents while you still have them. Don’t just look at them as your annoying parents. Get to know them as people, enjoy their “when I was a kid” stories. Make memories with them and take a lot of videos and pictures.
Happy Birthday Mom and I hope you are enjoying life in heaven with your mother and father. I also hope you and Aunt Karen squashed your BS and moved on.
Until Next Time, Have a great day!