Hi, Carolyn: I lost my amazing mom suddenly to a heart attack six months ago. She was 58 and in perfect health and we are all still dealing with the shock of it.
I’ve gotten to a point where I can mostly function on a day-to-day basis but I’m struggling with how to face my future milestones without her. I’m 33, not married yet (but dating the man I know I’ll marry), no kids yet, no house yet. She was so invested in my life and in my happiness — how am I going to do these things without her? I hope because you’ve been through it you’ll have some perspective for me. Thank you so much.
Making a Future Without My Mom
I’m not sure I have perspective on my side so much as the fact of having done it. “How am I going to do these things without her?”: You just do, because there’s no alternative.
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It sucks, it hurts, I cry sometimes, I never stop missing Mom’s companionship, and I am a living receptacle of apparently endless questions I’d like to ask her about children in general, mine in particular, and about how she raised us and what she was thinking at the time — but no matter how hard I shake my fist at the sky, I’m not getting answers.
So I wing it, I ask other people, I read my memories for clues, I seek companionship elsewhere. I manage. You will, too.
You also carry your mother with you in everything you see, say or do. She was “so invested,” apparently in a good way, lucky you. You can’t raise future children the way she raised you because that’s impossible now, the circumstances are too different — the Internet alone assured us of that — but you can bring the same sensibilities to your home life that she brought to yours, and that you now miss so profoundly. Trust that she’s with you as the loving voice in your head; it’s the one that expresses confidence in you when you’re at your lowest points.
You will also, please know, emerge tougher from this, because once you figure out that you can do something you never prepared yourself to do, you’re going to be less intimidated by other challenges. It’s not that this is the hardest thing you’ll ever deal with — though I do hope for your sake that it is — but it is, or will become, the experience that taught you that you can handle unthinkable things.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.