There is something about losing a mother that is permanent and inexpressible—a wound that will never quite heal. ~ Susan Wiggs
A reader writes: My mom died of cancer 3 months ago, after 7 years of fighting. I am 22 years old and I have lost everything that was normal. I miss my mom so very much, she was my very best friend. I just need someone to talk to that understands. I feel so alone. I am a Christian and that helps a lot but I literally don't have anyone, my dad had to move away, my boyfriend of 3 1/2 years broke up with me 1 week after the funeral and my friends are too into college and partying. I feel like I have been robbed.I don't know who to grieve over, my aching heart from losing my boyfriend, or my best friend, comforter, and inspiration-mom. I feel like I don't cry enough, no one wants to hear about my problems and I have lost several close "friends" because they feel like I complain too much. I just don't know what to do, I am trying to move on but I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. I need her now more than ever! She would give me advice and would genuinly listen to me. All I ever want to do is just read and be alone, when I used to be a people person, I used to run 2 miles a day and always be outdoors, but now I don't care about health or anything. I just read the Bible and pray. I hope you can relate and give me comfort, I just need a friend. Thanks.
My response: I’m so very sorry that, at the tender age of 22, you are mourning the death of your beloved mother, your “very best friend, comforter and inspiration-mom.”
As if that were not enough, you’re also mourning the death of your relationship with your boyfriend of nearly four years.
I can only imagine how alone, how lost, how bewildered, how abandoned you must feel.
You say that although your mom died three months ago, it is only now that you have started grieving. You may feel very “crazy” and out of control at times, wondering what is wrong and why you would be “falling apart” now, three months later.
I want to assure you that what you’re experiencing is normal ~ because it is when that initial shock and numbness wears off that the full force of our grief hits us, and usually it takes about three months for that to happen. Some believe that this is simply Nature’s way of cushioning us from that initial blow ~ the loss is so devastating, so enormous that it is simply too much for us to take in all at once, and so we experience a certain numbness, as if we’re walking around in a fog, operating on “automatic pilot.”
But eventually the reality and the enormity of what we’ve lost begins to sink in, and then we feel as if we’ve been hit by a truck ~ it’s as if we’re experiencing the death all over again, but even more intensely than before. Unfortunately, until this happens your friends and classmates may have been operating under the assumption that you were doing fine, “handling things so well,” praising you for being so “strong” in the face of such devastating loss.
I'm so sorry that your boyfriend chose to break up with you just a week after your mother's funeral, which must have been devastating for you ~ but I must tell you that your experience is not unusual. Grief is exhausting, and may leave a person in mourning focused inward, with precious little energy to invest in a love relationship. And sadly, if the relationship isn't strong enough to withstand the strain of a significant loss, this is when it may fall apart. If you read some of the posts in our Loss of a Love Relationship forum in our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, you'll find many stories similar to your own, and you'll discover that you are not alone in this experience.
It helps so much to know what normal grief looks like and feels like, because then you know what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. Then you can plan for those reactions and learn some practical ways to manage them ~ which in turn leaves you feeling less “crazy” and much more in control. If you haven't already done so, I hope you’ll pay a visit to my Grief Healing website. Take the time to visit the Comfort for Grieving Hearts page, and follow some of the links listed on the Death of a Parent and Death of A Relationship pages. See also Marty's Articles and click on any one of those titles to learn more about the grieving process. Such information assures you that so much of what you are experiencing is normal (even predictable) and gives you hope that, if others can survive such pain, you will find a way to survive it, too.
I also encourage you to check out the National Students of AMF organization, whose many resources are aimed at supporting, connecting and empowering grieving young adults:
Finally, I hope that you'll consider finding your way to our warm, caring and supportive online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, because I know that there you will find some of the comfort, compassion and friendship you so desperately need and deserve right now. None of us can take away your pain at this sad and difficult time in your young life, my dear ~ but we can assure you that you need not endure it all by yourself. ♥Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing Newsletter. Sign up here.