Monday, November 29, 2010

Grief's Unspoken Flip Side

Grief has a flip side that no one talks much about.

As many of you know, my mother died in February, and this blog was created to honor her life and her love of perfume.  My thoughts, and my grief, in the wake of her death, have shown up in numerous posts. 

There are other thoughts I have yet to express because they extend beyond the typical conversations of grief.  I hesitate, even now, to share them publicly.

You may not understand. You may think I'm disrespectful.

You may judge me as a daughter who does not love her mother enough. 

God knows I have judged myself.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to be honest about my journey, which brings me to say:

Some things are easier now.

I feel completely free now.

One of my mother's best attributes was her ability to observe small details and take great pains to make sure her endeavors turned out right.  In other words, she was a classic perfectionist.  

As any perfectionist knows, this quality is a double-edged sword.  It created a challenge in our relationship because I am quirky and stubborn and I resist being managed. 

For Mom and me, the details of our individual differences often got in the way of intimate connection.  The end of this journey results in feelings of sadness, and also, relief.

Our family is striving to find a new normal and figure out where everyone fits.  We are all forever changed, discovering each other as new people - different than we were before.

From here, anything is possible.


For the past two days, I've been wanting to write this post.  Tonight, influenced by Inner Critic, I talk myself out of it and decide to write something else.  


For an hour, nothing comes.

Paralyzed with writer's block, I call Dad for a brief chat.  Cautiously, I mention this topic to him, not sure how he will respond, hoping never to hurt him with my written words.  He listens carefully and then gives me the very best advice. 

'It's important to write what you feel, to write what's in your heart.'

I will always love you, Mom.

picture from


  1. I'm perhaps the wrong person to respond, because I'm not a person who has a loving relationship with her mother. But I think that in part, that's what makes me feel that I can clearly tell from your posts, including this one, that you did have that loving relationship.

    Not a thing in your post leaves me in any doubt that you greatly love and respect your mother. There's nothing to judge. Recognizing that there were flaws and strains and things that you wish didn't have to be, and acknowledging a sensation of relief or freedom when those strains are gone--none of those things change that fact.

  2. None of us is perfect and none of our relationships are perfect. I think it would be hypocritical to pretend otherwise, but that fact does not diminish the love we feel for each other. Quite the contrary, you love(d) your mother with all her little quirks and that love is like CF said, forever present in your posts.

  3. I think it is important for you to write what you feel as well. Your observations about the complexity of your relationship with Mom are honest and enlightening. As others have commented, there is no doubt that you loved her. I believe you both gave everything you could. Love you much...

  4. My Inner Critic scared me away from commenting on your blog a few posts ago. You had said something so true, so real that I wanted to say something! My attempts to respond were rewritten again and again and then finally erased.

    I find it very difficult to express myself. Seeing you express these very difficult emotions gives me hope that perhaps one day I'll be able to say what I need to say.

  5. ChickenFreak - thanks for your comment. The feelings that accompany grief can be surprising and, at times, unsettling. Your understanding is comforting. Relationships are complicated, that's for sure.

  6. Hi Ines - you're right, no relationships are perfect. Sometimes the only thing we can contribute is honesty about what was and what was not. Thanks for your kind comment.

  7. Hi Mermaid - thanks for understanding. I am sensitive about this being a tender time for everyone and hope to respect that while being honest about my own journey. Your support means a lot to me.

  8. JoanElaine, I so understand what you mean. I have done the same thing when commenting to others. Damn Inner Critic! Thank you for your comment - it gives me courage to continue saying what's true for me.



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