Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I am having a hard time understanding my mom. You meet her and she is the most vivacious 68 yo one could meet. She looks and acts, maybe 58. She works out every day, is healthy beyond healthy, type A personality, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and unbelievably loving, to a point.

    Here is the thing I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around. Her Mom died 4 years ago. My Mom didn't cry or seem to grieve. OK. I can see that, they did not have the best relationship, and her Mom was like 98. It was time.

    My sister died 6 months later. Again, my Mom didn't cry, at all. I am the one at the memorial sobbing, and my parents are dry faced. OK. You don't have to cry at the memorial to be sad - I get it. But she has never cried over H. She just kept living, and didn't seem to miss a beat. She was a little sad, but barely noticeable. Again, H and her did not have the best relationship - so I thought maybe the fact that H. had been so distant from her for such a long time that possibly my mom already grieved. She even mentions how weird it is that she has never cried over her mom or H.

    So now my Dad has passed and it is the same thing. They were married 45 years. She cried some when he died, and when we were closing down the house. But she has not gone into any sort of grieving - in fact the opposite. She told me the other night she was so happy that she could garden all she wanted and my Dad did not tell her to come in for dinner - and that she could not eat dinner anytime!!

    She evidently likes the freedom - which I can understand, because my Dad was controlling and pretty much a butt in my opinion - but still. I am so confused. I miss him even though he was a butt. I cry/cried. I miss the piece inside my soul that he filled. Just like H. I really am grieving - and when I say to my mom - wow I miss Dad right now - she will say something off putting - like oh well we can do it ourselves or something like that.

    So - is it me that is too emotional??? Probably. Yet, on the other hand, I don't understand, at all, how she can be SO removed from her feelings. Everyone who meets her goes on and on about how sweet and nice she is - so she is not a "cold" person - yet she seems unshakeable. As if she has no feelings or emotions.

    I guess I only ask this because it is just her and I now - and I feel like the one that now is the only one shouldering grief. Maybe in some weird way I feel like I have to take hers too - because she is so vapid??? I mean - I feel stupid now to even mention that I miss H or Dad to her....which is weird. So - I don't know. Advice? Or am I just being too emotional??
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    No, you're not being too emotional, neither is your Mom being cold.

    The "standard" for grief is bawling your eyes out for a few days, then going on. That's not how life works. Everyone's different.

    Your grandmother, H, your Dad - she had a different relationship with them than you did.

    I can use bio mom as an example - the first night, O was teary and angry. By the second night, she was "up". And since, she's been angry and demanding. No more tears.

    J, on the other hand? Bored by the hullabaloo. Cried once, after bio's friend got abusive on the phone with me then husband. Long story.

    At the funeral, J was busy trying to cheer everyone up - his words. I told him that must have been difficult. He said he made O mad - "better mad than sad right?" Well maybe - but I've seen O's rages... He knew he did not have to come home with her.

    He told my Dad the other day he missed SF and bio's friend 'cause they "had his back" on his video games. Me, yesterday, that bio wasn't home much and SF and friend played lots of video games with him.

    Very different reactions from siblings. Honestly, for years bio showered attention on O (good and bad) and pretty much ignored J. Then, when O went against her, she was cut off - until suddenly O was against husband and knew bio would help her. So O has the loss of attention (and spoiling, I daresay). J has the loss of video game partners - but shortly before bio's death, husband and he found a game they can play together. So he's cool.

    I think it's individual, sweetheart. And Elizabeth Kubler-Ross does have some very good books.

  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I may be completely off, but perhaps in her 68 years of life she has learned to compartmentalize her feelings, her reactons, her emotions. Perhaps after raising her children and putting up with typical children garbage as well as your father being a 'butt', she is able to quietly grieve, in her own way, and then move on.

    My mother in law is NOT warm or friendly or young thinking. She is the original ice queen. When we were recently at my father in law's funeral, H's brother asked if anyone remembered to bring tissues. Before I could say anything, mother in law blurt out, "We won't be needing those. We're strong people." H's sister responded with, "Speak for yourself" and gave a chuckle. While her children and me were off and on weeping throughout the service, mother in law's eyes were dry. However, for all of us, this was expected - that's just the way she is. Very stoic. Not vivacious, not out there living her life. on the other hand, I do think she will enjoy being alone for a while. I think she will enjoy not catering to her H or listening to his drunken snores or big mouth having to be the center of attention. But that's my take.

    In your case, perhaps you are overly emotional. Maybe you hang on to things too long. Maybe there is a part of you that simply cannot let go in the way your mom seemingly has. I don't know your mom, but taking into account the way I am emotionally, I would venture to guess that she IS feeling a loss and IS grieving in her own way, away from you. My guess is that because you are so expressive about the losses you've shared, she tries to temper your reactions in this way.

    Years ago, I was told that I'm overly emotional. Compared to my sister, I'm a stone. I worked on my emotional repsonses in counseling and have been able to find some middle ground. I do tend to be more introspective and private, unlike my sisters, but when I'm comfortable and feel safe, or simply cannot help myself, I will let go.

    If you haven't already had a discussion about it, perhaps you should ask your mother how she is able to process the losses and move on so freely. It may be beneficial to you.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    I think that is FANTASTIC advice.

    Grieving, just as living, is a very personal process and has a lot to do with a person's disposition. Your Mom may have religious or spiritual beliefs that you may or not be aware of that bring her this kind of "peace" And yes, her relationships with these people were different than yours. AND she is much older and has probably suffered other losses along the way.

    in my opinion she sounds perfectly normal, AS DO YOU. :consoling:
  5. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    Well, she's less than 5 years older than I am. Maybe age does have something to do with it, maybe not. We all process our feelings and grieve differently. I don't think there's anything WRONG with either of you. You each had different relationships with those people and you are each handling things in your own way.

    I know that in some cases, people might think that I am a cold fish. Never in my life have I been one to cry and carry on and share my feelings with other people. That doesn't mean I don't have those feelings. That doesn't mean that I don't grieve when something happens. It just means that I deal with things in my own way. She may be the same. The fact that somebody doesn't make a scene and that they are able to move on doesn't mean they didn't care for that person in the first place or that they are in denial or anything else.

    With her mother- the woman was 98. I imagine she was reconciled to the fact that she was going to be gone soon. My mother is nearly 97. We are close, but, when she goes, I seriously doubt that I will shed a lot of tears. It is not unexpected that she will be gone soon, she had a good life, she was a religious woman and if there is a better place, no doubt she will be there. With your dad - he was sick for quite awhile. Maybe she processed the grief and loss while he was still alive. Being with somebody every day during a serious illness lets you come to terms with things that you would have to process later in case of an unexpected death. And with your sister - who knows. I'm sure that was a shock to everybody but we all handle those things differently. We don't all cry. That doesn't mean we didn't care.

    The discussion is good advice, if she is open to it. She may or may not be. You just have to realize that you will process these things your way, and she will do it her way. One way isn't necessarily BETTER than the other; they are just DIFFERENT.
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You guys are very insightful.

    I think the worst part of this, is that I feel like the "over-emotional" one. Then I feel bad about myself for having these "feelings" when my mom doesn't.

    Part of that was how I was raised - I was the only one who quote "wore their emotions on their sleeve" - and I got criticized and belittled for that. It took me YEARS to realize that I was tough as nails - I just felt things deeper than others - and that was OK.

    But now, I am feeling that belittled feeling again - like - "get over it Steely, seriously, what is your problem" (my Dad talking to me).

    I find it hard to accept both types of grieving as normal. I seem to vacillate between me being in the wrong, and then my mom. I tend to take more of the blame though, I have a hard time crying for my Dad when I know she is not. It doesn't seems right. AKA normal.
  7. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    I am not a cryer - I was taught early if I cried, I would really get something to cry about. My mother died in May, and I have yet to shed more than a tear or two. Am sure that side of the family thought I was a cold fish that I was not tearing at my hair and wailing, but honestly, she and I were not close. I felt guilty because I felt a sense of relief, partly because she was not suffering as I hate to see anyone suffer, and was grateful she was clueless at the end about her situation. But moreover, I was finally free of all of the negative imput I was given any time I talked to her. I wanted to claw at my face as her take on life was all doom and gloom, and nothing I ever did was right.

    SO's mom is living with us now - I think about my mom from time to time when his mom and I are having a laugh, or having fun looking thru stuff brought from storage, when we all sit down for a meal and no one comments on whether or not I made too much, or too little, didn't cook it long enough, used too much salt, overcooked it LOL.

    It makes me sad that these are the kinds of thoughts that remain with me about my mother whenever I think about her - negative to the inth degree. I told SO I was worried something was wrong with me that I wasn't "tearful" enough. LOL

    I think the fact that I do think about her and feel sad now and then is all I am going to be able to muster on her behalf

  8. keista

    keista New Member

    Marcie, I think you are also completely NORMAL in your grief process with your Mom.

    Who says that anyone should be more or less tearful in their grieving process?
    Marcie, Why should there be any more? Grieving is a process you do for yourself, not the deceased.
    Steely, Why should there be any less? Grieving is a process you do for yourself, not the deceased.

    2 years ago I was blindsided when an old friend died. He was more than "just a friend" but not a 'flame' either. We met and shared one weekend at a mutual friend's wedding. Our time was brief, but he was one of the few that I always remembered. Apparently I was the same for him. I just could not stop crying, and thought something was "wrong" with me, but I realized that what I was grieving was the "could have been"s because since my husband left, I had started resurrecting fantasies from the past. Eventually I learned some things about him that instantly eradicated any fantasies I had of a 'possible' reunion. Once the "could have been"s were gone, my grieving was done.

    My own mother died when I was 5. I grieved for decades. When I was about 32 I finally came to terms with the "could have been"s of the loss of my mother. I had always believed that my life "would have been" different if she had not died. And yes, it really would have been monumentally different, but different does not always mean better. When I realized THAT, my grieving was finally done.

    I think that it's these "could have been"s or "should have been"s or "would have been"s are what we are pining for, and that is what we call grieving. One more kiss, one more hug, one more chat, reunification, resolution, forgiveness, an apology, acceptance, understanding, more time, whatever. I think that people who don't seem to grieve as much simply accept things for the way they are and move on (Marcie and Steely's Mom). Doesn't make the more emotional grievers less normal. (Steely and me)

    Grief is your own process, not for anyone else.
  9. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    That is really amazing wisdom kiesta -
  10. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    I am so sorry with the great amount of stress you have had in the last few years. Holy cow, how are you on your feet? Have not read everyones responses, hope I don't repeat. I believe your response is normal for you. Your mom's may be normal for her. A counselor once told me that my sister was so emotional because she was acting out the feelings of everyone else in the house. We were actually getting some sort of "vicarious" benefit. The rest of us are pretty emotionally flat by her standards and tend to cry or get angry in private. I actually think the lack of showing my own grief may be why I struggle with an autoimmune disease. Those feelings need to come out some way. I do like the idea of talking about it. It has helped my sister to know that I am sad or mad too, but I deal with it differently. It has helped me to know that she is not an emotional wreck-she is who she needs to be in these times. I hope that you will be a support to each other and find comfort in your own ways. Hugs to you!
  11. keista

    keista New Member

    10Q I hope it helps you through your process.
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If this were different than how she had reacted to her own mother's death or your sister or your dad's, I think I would be concerned. But it seems as though your mother has been consistent in her way of grieving. It is what is comfortable to her. It's such a personal thing, I don't think that any of us can know what is the right way for someone to behave. I'm sure she's devastated, and that you're going to be there for her is very helpful. I'm sure she will share with you in a way that she feels comfortable doing so.
  13. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    If nothing else, over the years I have learned that there is no "normal" way to grieve. I have seen drama queens and stoiciscm- both extremes were what those people needed in order to cope with their losses. I don't judge; I accept that grief is a journey and no one goes through it unscathed, without pain.

  14. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    As had been said, everyone is different in how they process and handle. She also is a different generation and on top of genetic processing might also have learned a different processing (or expressing) system. She knew your father in ways you didn't, and I would guess is someone who is more willing to see death as a release, a relief, a doorway rather than an ending. An acceptance of our small place in the multiverse that most people can spend their lives trying to find, a harkening back to older times when we knew in our entire being that death is part of life rather than something to fear.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    when my ex-s grandmother died at 94, his staid Norwegien-rooted family barely shed any tears. I knew how much they loved her, but although a few dabbed tissues to their eyes, nobody cried. Well, that's not quite true. There WAS me! Although she was a grandma-in-law, and had lived a wonderful, long, healthy life, I was bawling like a little girl and could not control myself to the point where ex turned to me and whispered, "Stop it!" I couldn't. I loved her like my own grandmother, and in our family we show our emotions.
    I'll bet his family was stunned that while everyone else stood with dignity and grace, I had a meltdown. Nobody ever discussed it with me.
    I agree with the consensus. Everyone is different. It could also be that your mom puts things out of her mind that are too hard to think about. I could never do that, but I know people who can.
  16. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well. I'm not sure. It could just be her personality. Or it could be the way she looks at life.

    I'm not a crier. Let's just say it's a rare event. I'm definitely not a crier in public.....that would be even rarer still. (I can think of twice maybe 3 times) "public" to me means around people, including husband whom I've been married to for nearly 30 yrs.

    And I don't seem to look at death the way other people do, never have. I don't know why. There is a loss, yes, but it's also a natural part of life as well. And I view and accept it as such. I do grieve, it's just not what other people would typically view as grieving. I move through the stages fairly quickly and then move on. That is not to say that at certain times it won't touch me again and make me sad or a bit teary eyed. But I just go back to living.

    I have had people who react to my non reaction. At mother in law's funeral there were no tears from me. I was sad. I was grieving. But to look at me you'd never known it. My sister in law was bawling....and it made me feel sort of awkward because I wasn't. But I'm just not like that. Doesn't mean I loved her any less or would miss mother in law any less.

    Sometimes I wonder if my view of death is the way it is because the vast majority of my childhood was spent with the elderly; my grandma and her friends as well as the nursing home residents where my mom worked.

    I do remember my grandma telling me not to cry for her when she was gone. I was to remember all the good times and hold them close and she'd always be with me. I mean she really drilled this into my head, maybe more than she should have now that I think about it. But we were literally inseparable and I think she feared what effect losing her would have on me. I remember the other older people I knew discussing death and dying too.

    So I dunno. I do think every person's view of death and their reaction to it is different though.
  17. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    A lot of what might be called "cold-hearted" these days used to be called "stoic." You never hear the word "stoic" anymore.
  18. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Lisa, your description fits me to a T. In my family growing up, there was a very matter of fact view of death and the reality of it as part of life. Losing someone is sad, and often tragic, but it's inevitable. People think I'm way too detached about the concept of death, but I'm comfortable with it. Anyway, just wanted to say that I completely related to your post. It is interesting just how different we all are, and yet, at times, how very much alike we are!
  19. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Sure you do. I used it in my post. :rofl:

    Steely, I'm a crier, too. My Mom was not. Both responses are completely normal.

  20. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I think this whole post is very interesting....on so many levels.

    My whole family was "stoic" and I was the one who expressed my feelings. Therefore I was labeled the liable one - the one who "had issues". It is like someone said on this thread my family acted out their emotions through me. Yet they resented me for having the feelings. Many, many times I was yelled at for "being upset".

    I am not sure what would have happened had I grown up in a family like me. I hardly EVER cry in public because it seems a sin to do so in my mind. Yet sometimes it will overtake me - and then that is horrible - because I have held in whatever emotion it is for so long - that it comes out in horrible embarrassing sobs. So obviously I have to process the feelings in more depth than others may have to - but here is the deal breaker - I don't want to be that person. I want to be "stoic" - I want to be that person that brushes off death - without emotion.

    So I guess it is all about - Acceptance of myself? Changing myself? Envy towards my Mom? Anger towards my Mom for doing something I cannot seem to do? Anger at being labeled my whole childhood as the "fragile" one? Perplexed that people can walk through life's fire without deep emotion, and I can't?

    Seriously not sure why this is eating at my mind lately - I guess it is just a conundrum that I cannot rationalize out - and therefore it bugs me.