Really struggling with the loss of my mother when I was a child - help?

(14 Posts)
LucySnoweShouldRelax Mon 13-Jan-14 19:19:08

My mother died at this time of year when I was twelve years old. She was killed by a drunk driver five minutes away from our house.

My father is a dear, kind and sweet man, but he has always found it hard to express himself emotionally. When my mother died, there was a big emphasis on being strong, to help everyone get through. I only spoke about my mother under duress in the years that followed, because to speak about my mother was to upset people, and as a child, I didn't want to upset anyone, I just wanted everything to get back to normal. A teacher had put together press clippings after my mother's funeral for us, and I hid it so as not to upset anyone. I never knew the details of the accident. Neither myself nor my siblings were given any counselling, which upsets me.

In the years that followed, I realise now that my father was probably profoundly depressed. We never wanted for anything, but he would come home from work often and shut the door, not coming out until the next morning. He did try and do his best, but it was an incredibly lonely time. I feel that he may have expected my elder sister to 'look after' me, which was unfair as she was still just a kid herself.

Fast forward fifteen years, and my dad has remarried and is definitely happier within himself. He will talk about my mother in anecdotes, if my stepmum isn't around. However, I have heard all my life about what a martyr my father was, how he was the greatest father going, etc (he was very much my grandmother's blue-eyed boy, and rather gratingly, my stepmother has taken up the chant as well) I feel like after years of this, my father believes the legend as well. I love my father, I really really do, but it's hard hearing him described as perfect when I felt so sad and alone when I was growing up. I don't blame him for anything, he is only human, but I wish the rest of the world would see that too.

As for me, I have very few memories of my own of my mother, but I feel completely defined by her loss. It's like I have a scar, right across my face. I have three gorgeous maternal aunties who would love to talk to me, but their memories of a sister aren't my own memories of a mother, they don't remember much about our relationship (they all had kids at the time) and I feel so sad that I will never get those memories back.

I'm sorry for how selfish all of this is, and thank you so much to anyone who has gotten through it! I just feel right now that a creeping unhappiness I have lived with all my life is breaking into full-scale depression and I fell sad, angry and powerless about everything.

catinboots Mon 13-Jan-14 19:21:08

Do you have brothers or sisters?

LucySnoweShouldRelax Mon 13-Jan-14 19:23:33

I have an elder brother and sister. We find it easier to discuss our pain in relation to our father than the direct loss of our mother. We're close, but not a touchy-feely group at all, and I feel so conditioned by my own mind not to talk about it, that I wouldn't know where to start.

everlong Tue 14-Jan-14 17:09:52

Lucy I'm so sorry you lost your mum, especially at that age. So difficult not only losing her but never being able to talk about her freely then having little support from your dad.

How do you feel right now?

Do you think therapy /counselling could help you unravel all that's hidden in you?

It's no surprise you feel angry and sad but you don't deserve a lifetime of this, do you?

My own mum died when I was 4 ( 42 years ago ) like you I wasn't encouraged to talk about her intact it was brushed completely under the carpet.. my 14 year old brother found it very difficult to cope ( our father wasn't supportive and my brother ended moving out to live with a neighbour - I was adopted by my sister who is 20 year older than me, on the wishes of my dying mother )

It's hard. It's made me into someone I shouldn't have been, no doubt similar to how you feel?

I think talking and talking maybe could help you.

Utterly Tue 14-Jan-14 17:13:59

That's really sad Lucy. I agree with everlong, that you need to get this out with professional help. flowers

LucySnoweShouldRelax Wed 15-Jan-14 12:09:26

"It's made me into someone I shouldn't have been" - That's absolutely spot-on, everlong. Everything that is 'wrong' with me, I associate with my loss. Thank you, and utterly for your kind words.

How can one access counselling? I was referred by a GP to CBT, but it was only an eight-week programme, I felt it only brushed over the surface of a lot of issues and the therapist seemed more interested in making flow-charts. Perhaps I could go back and explain how I'm feeling. I suppose because I can get up in the morning, see friends, work, I feel like I'm being self-indulgent and taking services away from someone who really needs it.

MrsMcEnroe Wed 15-Jan-14 12:14:46

Hi Lucy

I'm very sorry about your mum.

You can access counselling for free with Cruse, the bereavement charity, you don't need a referral from a GP - www.cruse.org - they have saved me, twice. If you click through the site you will be able to find the number for the closest branch to you.

I was recommended a book by a wise MNetter - it's called "Motherless Daughters" and I think it's written by Hope Edelman or a similar name - I haven't been able to finish it yet (it can be quite emotional to read!) but it is very helpful in understanding exactly how the loss of your mum at such a young age has affected you from that point onwards.

Sending you love and strength x

MrsMcEnroe Wed 15-Jan-14 12:15:38

CORRECT LINK FOR CRUSE!

Sorry, it's actually www.cruse.org.uk. Sorry about that

MooncupGoddess Wed 15-Jan-14 12:20:04

That sounds really hard, and you absolutely shouldn't apologise for your entirely understandable and justifiable feelings.

Agree that proper counselling (not CBT which as I understand it is directed more at anxiety-type issues) would give you a useful place to talk all of this through.

Do talk to your aunts, even if their memories are different from yours. Did your mother have any friends you could chat to?

Have you tried looking at childhood photos to bring back the memories of your mother, or would you feel uncomfortable with that?

hudyerwheesht Wed 15-Jan-14 12:46:33

Oh, OP, your post has made me struggle not to cry - I completely relate in so many ways. My mum died after a long illness when I was 16 and my Dad reacted the same. I think it may be sadly quite common for men - especially of a certain era - to shut down like this and the casualties of this are the remaining family.
There are so many things in your post that I could have written myself but I did seek help eventually(I too got my short course referral) as I felt as though my life had split into 2:before my mum's death and after it and I was tired of feeling as though it had defined me as an adult.
Please, please do contact CRUSE(I haven't used them myself but they are apparantly excellent and it doesn't matter how long it has been since the bereavement) - you can move on from this feeling of being defined by the loss of your mother and everything that has transpired since.

And please believe that you are not selfish - you have not been given the opportunity to grieve or even properly process this with the support you should have had at such a young age. The very fact you think you are being selfish by sharing your feelings is proof of how you have learned to hide them so often for fear of upsetting anyone in the family.

If you want to pm me for a chat about the kinds of things I have done in terms of getting help - or indeed just for a chat - please do(as I am at work at the moment and can't really stay on MN!). Either way I hope you find some help and peace soon.

LucySnoweShouldRelax Wed 15-Jan-14 14:33:44

Thank you all so much, really. Your kindness is making me emotional all over again!

There are photos, and I love to look through them but I feel like I'm looking at them across a void, that they are unreal, almost that that child is not me. I can't remember being her.

I am going to get in touch with CRUSE. It's a new year, and it's time I stopped pretending that I can work this out by myself.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Meerka Mon 20-Jan-14 10:50:42

flowers

Pretty much the same situation with my adored adoptive mum, it was like once she was dead she was gone utterly from everyone's mind. Reality suddenly changed and my reality didn't seem like everyone else's, no one else had had their world ripped away, it was very lonely.

Affected me badly all my adult life. I hope you find the right sort of counselling and can gain conscious acknowledgement that your mum's death and your grief are central to your life.

We never forget our loving mums, do we. Not ever.

flowers

HoneyandRum Sat 25-Jan-14 12:51:01

My mum died of cancer when I was 13. She was in hospital a lot of the time for the previous year. I also did not receive any kind of counseling and in fact virtually no one even talked to me about her death or if I was coping. It has definitely been the most defining experience of my life and continues to be.

I did some reading as an adult and had some patchy counseling. When I was younger, in my 20s I think I had difficulties with the concept of needing to say "Goodbye" as a route to supposed healing. For me personally the memories of my mother were keeping me sane and using her as my guide gave me strength. I finally read somewhere that love is eternal and therefore we never have to say goodbye - this completely spoke (speaks) to me as it was my lived experience.

My parents were killed when I was a teenager, I`m 42 now and I think I`m just about coming to terms with it. I`m quite honest in the fact that it did ruin my life, I have no real Aunts/Uncles/Grandparents, my two Aunts were totally not interested in us at all when they died and my Uncle was a life long batchelor who just said it was very sad hmm. I have younger brothers and sisters and an older brother, the lot of us just fell apart and could barely manage our own demons let alone each others.

We muddled along doing our best until we all reached adulthood and then basically went our seperate ways, it is only now that we have any sort of relationship with each other (apart for me my younger brother to whom I am very close). I can see now how this affected our lives seperately, none of us had counselling, I tried once but it didnt work for me at that time. We`ve all had horrendously difficult times.

I would say now, we are all `ok` if thats the right word for it, we were sort of left by the authorities as I was nearly an adult and my brother was so that was enough for looking after the younger ones.

Now, I would say dont be like us, I should have tried counselling again and again, I should of looked for help and realised that I/we desperately needed it. I feel as though 15 years of my live was `put on hold` and I wouldnt wish that on anyone, its too hard to come to terms with by yourself.

Take what you can as help, talk it through it will be worth it. I feel now that I cant live my life by what happened. I wish to god that I had had outside help for it all, please dont ignore it like me/us, if I could change the way I dealt with it I would, in a heartbeat. Much love x

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