It’s OK to grieve your absent parents while they’re still alive.
I see so many articles or well-meaning posts from people who had beautiful relationships with their parents and are now grieving their loss. It’s amazing to read about such incredible parent-child relationships, but it also usually comes with guilt for me.
“Call your mom, I wish I still could.”
Yeah, me too, I want to say. I stare at my phone, my finger hovering over her name, and sigh. I let the screen go black instead.
My birth mother is alive and well but I chose to end my relationship with her for my own sanity seven years ago. Seventeen years of walking on eggshells and hoping that she would change her mind about keeping my existence a secret was enough for me. I looked at my beautiful children and couldn’t imagine them feeling like second-class citizens the way I had for so long. I never wanted them to feel like dirty little secrets and my need to protect them was greater than my need to have my birth mother in my life.
If and when my half sisters begin having children, they’ll be celebrated publicly as her first grandchildren. The thing is though, she has three grandchildren already. They’re 12, 10, and eight and hardly anyone knows they exist.
I stare out the window at the leaves gently blowing in the breeze and I think about how most of the emotional wounds I’m working so hard to heal can mostly be tied back to her.
A mother-daughter bond should be unbreakable, but sometimes . . . it isn’t.
Sometimes the dysfunctions of our parents are just too great to overcome and though we could call, it takes more courage and strength not to. Because it’s not just a phone call or a text. It would be re-opening the door to toxicity and ultimately letting another piece of ourselves die.
So I do grieve my birth mother even though she’s still here. I grieve the relationship we should have had. I grieve the way I let pieces of myself die year after year as I tried to shrink myself to fit into her world. I grieve the loss of my mother over and over and over again.
If you’re reading this and have had to say goodbye to a parent who is still on this side of heaven, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks right along with yours because we had to stand in the gap for ourselves and that’s just not a position we should have ever had to be in. You are brave beyond measure for deciding that you deserved better.
You do deserve better. You always have.