By Cindy Smith, Adult Daughter
My Mother was 82-years-old and had been given Last Rites three times. She had been sick for 10 years, and her death had not been unexpected. But when the finality comes, it leaves a gaping abyss that is difficult to fill. It is true that death is harder on those left behind.
I was a long distance caregiver for eight years and we used to talk on the phone for an hour every day (thank goodness they don’t charge by the minute for long distance calls anymore). She would give me advice on my kids, my husband and my job. Granted, some of it was unsolicited, but she was my best friend, my confidante and I looked forward to talking to her every day. It was our routine, a great jumpstart to the day. You know mothers and daughters … they NEVER run out of things to say!
(As an aside, there’s a genetic reason for that. Research has shown that women say 13,0000 more words/day than men because of the Fox2protein known as the “language protein” in our brains). My Dad could have told them that!
So now I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what to do with that hour. Sure I could fill it, but there’s a void. A hole that not even Matt Lauer can fill.
When she first passed away, people tried to console me by saying: “her spirit will live on in you and your kids forever.” Really? What kind of psychobabble is that? Or “remember the good times you had together.” Seriously? I want her here NOW – I don’t want to have to conjure up some distant memory! I miss her. I love her. Like a petulant child, I want her back!
So let me share a few little tips I learned to help me deal with the loneliness. First, I recorded a few of our conversations before she passed away. It brightens my day to hear her voice first thing in the morning! Because one of the first things you will miss is hearing from your Mom. It helps me to remember her laugh, and the way we used to tease her when she would call my brother and I each other’s names.
My Mom was crazy about sports cars and had the speeding tickets to prove it! In fact, the reason she lost her license was not because of forgetfulness or loss of agility … the insurance company refused to insure her! So I don’t just keep a picture of her on my desk, I keep her last driver’s license. And every morning I say good morning to her and remind myself to have FUN!
And the third thing? I text her. No, she has never texted me back and I’m in big trouble if AT&T ever reassigns her phone number. Just little snippets of things I would ordinarily share with her.
What do you do to ease the loneliness of losing a parent? Share!
Cindy Smith is a marketing consultant with FirstLight Home Care, a home healthcare agency that specializes in senior care, dementia care and rehabilitative care. FirstLight Home Care provides caregiving services — they are there when you can’t be!