Cora writes in with this question: “I just started grieving about my mom this Christmas. She died in 1996. I thought about all the events and things we shared from age 6 to adult. It was like a series of flashbacks. I was in a depressed state for 4 days. Is that normal?
Pamela Gabbay, certified bereavement counselor, responds:
I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Whenever someone we love dies, we yearn for them and miss everything about them. We miss the sound of their voice, their touch, the smell of their hair, the way they smiled at us and all of the things that we loved about them. In the beginning, the pain is so intense that we can scarcely think of anything else. Over time, this acute, unbearable pain begins to lessen, replaced by a nagging pain that will often last for years.
Your mom died in 1996 and some time has passed, but even with the passage of time, it is very normal to have periods where the acute missing and pain returns. Often something else in our lives will happen to trigger memories and cause the rush of pain to come back, almost as if our loved one died yesterday. My mother died in 1994 and I still miss her a lot, especially around the holidays. Christmas songs always trigger my memory of her because she loved Christmas songs. It’s possible that the time of year brought on your renewed feelings of intense grief and longing for your mother. When you spent time remembering all of the memories you shared with your mom from the time you were 6 years old, this most likely brought good memories as well as painful ones. Feeling depressed for a few days after reliving painful memories is very normal.
If you like to write, this might be a good time to consider putting the memories of your mom in a journal. Often writing will help me to sort out my feelings, and I like knowing that some of the precious memories of my mom have been recorded. You might also want to consider attending a grief support group in your area. Having the support of a group can be invaluable, and the support that you receive from other group members is often very different than support you receive from your family or co-workers. Do what feels right for you and remember that feeling depressed for a few days is normal when you’re missing someone you love.
Pamela Gabbay, M.A., FT, was awarded the Fellow in Thanatology by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and is a Certified Bereavement Counselor. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino and her M.A. in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Pamela is the Program Director of The Mourning Star Center for grieving children in Palm Desert, California and works extensively with grieving children, teens and their families.Tags: grief, hope