Posted by: ethel | 2008/08/11

Still longing after 37 years

I am a 53 year old woman. 37 years ago at the age of 16, I lost my mom. It was under very dark circumstances. She had cancer and died very slowly. But, I did not know that she was terminal. We were 9 children. From my age downwards, were never told that she was dying. My father took me once to the hosp to see her before she passed away. But when I saw her, I got such a fright, and battled to breathe. I stood at the head of her bed and tried to press my body into the wall so that she does not see my face. I was afraid that she might see the look of horror on my face. After a short while, when I could no longer hold my breath. I ran out. I never saw her again. We were brought up to be seen and never heard. On the night she died I woke up and heard the adults sniffing and some were saying " Jane is gone" , I sat up and wondered what that meant. What did they mean that my mom had gone? and I wondered why they were crying. I contemplated that she had perhaps died. But thought no. The next morning when my dad said me and the four younger than me, must get dressed he was taking us to the hosp to see my mom, this action confirmed that I was wrong about what I heard the night before. However when he got to the hosp. he told us to wait in the car and went upstairs. He came down with my moms night clothes and just announced " well your mother is gone, she is dead" !. I dont remember what happened next. My sister says that one of us she is not sure who, began screaming hysterically, and was told by my dad to " shut up" . We were not allowed to cry loud. At the grave side, no one knew, but I was looking down at the coffin and deciding if I should jump so that I could be with her, I loved her a lot, and was very close to her. The day after the funeral, my dad ran around like a mad man and told us to pack. We were moving back to South Africa, we were in Zim at the time. I have no recollection of events after that, or how I got back here. Who I travelled with etc. The journey, nothing, I cant remember anything. I know I ended up at my sisters house where I stayed for a few years. What is worrying me, is it is so many years ago. Yet, the desire to go back, go back to that house, walk in that house, go to her room, take my shoes off and be that young girl again, I need to go to the grave site, talk to her, is so overwhelming it is affecting my life. I sit alone sometines and just allow my mind to go back, go back to the house, picture the rooms, picture my life there, but I need more, I need to do that. I have never been back to the grave site. I cannot go back to zim, well not in the near future, I have been waiting for so many years already and it is not going to happen soon. How do I go forward with my life, while I still need to go back. I have three grown children, a good husband, I run my own business, yet this is still eating at me. How can I cope or overcome this, from this side. What can I do. Please help.

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Our expert says:
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Even today, families often handle death in the family very badly, especially where children are concerned --- some years ago it was done even worse, even though usually with the best of motives. It is hard to imagine anyone handling children whose mother was dying any worse than the awful situation you describe. And what a sad example of how one can be haunted by so much unfinished business after so many years.
You should try to arrange to see a counsellor with experience in helping with grief, perhaps one associated with your nearest Hospice, to work on these issues. I understand how much you feel the need to go back physically to the places where this happened, but until that is possible, you have grief work to do within yourself, with the help of the counsellor, and you can valuably resolve many vital issues between you and your mom right here, and with your own counsellor. IN the most important sense, your mom still lives in your love for her, and is still accessable to you without travelling back to Zim.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Bereaved Wife | 2009/03/21

My husband passed away from the above condition very suddenly in Jauary 2009 and I am having trouble accepting that he is gone, even though I am undergoing psychotherapy and grief councelling. I just don' t know how to cope with this and I feel very very lost and lonely

Reply to Bereaved Wife
Posted by: Emma | 2008/08/12

I understand your longing so well. I am 52 my mother died when I was five. After her death my father never spoke about her. I have no idea what she was like, or if I am anything like her. For many years I used to visit her grave on a weekly basis because that is all that I have left of her. Sadly it has become too dangerous to go to grave yards alone these days. I Guess I just wanted to say: I understand what you are going through, as I feel the same as you - there has been no closure for us and I don' t know if there ever will be.

Reply to Emma
Posted by: HomoeoPsych | 2008/08/11

Hi ethel

I normally don' t respond to post that don' t have anything directly to do with hypnosis, but I do feel a need to respond to your posting. Please bear with me because I need to give a (hopefully) fairly brief explanation.

The state of hypnosis can be described as an altered state of consciousness that is characterized by:
- a powerful focus of attention,
- a dissociated state where things are experienced in an unreal, often dreamlike or unusually vivid way,
- a shift to what is commonly known as a " right brain" , or predominantly emotional state
- an increased susceptibility to suggestion under certain circumstances, such as when the suggestion is given with sufficient authority, and,
- either deep relaxation or (more importantly in your case), extreme stress.

I would imagine that this pretty closely describes your experience when you first saw your mother in the hospital, in the period when you were convincing yourself that she was actually OK, as well as your later experience after she passed away. This means that you were effectively in a hypnotic state during this whole period, that probably lasted until after the move to SA. This is one of the reasons that you cannot remember much of what happened during this time. What is typical of such experiences, is odd moments of exceptional clarity that you can' t seem to get out of your mind, surrounded by large areas of total memory loss. Does this describe your experience?

In this state, your father' s instruction to " shut up" , his refusal to allow you to cry out loud in the following days and at the funeral, as well as the rush to pack, was effectively a hypnotically induced command (given " with sufficient authority" ) and totally shut down your ability to grieve and work through your loss. This is compounded by your never having the opportunity to say goodbye to your mother, either in the hospital, or during the funeral. The result of this is that whilst your rational, adult self knows she is gone, there is another emotional, childish, irrational part of you that got stuck there and simply cannot accept that this actually happened. This is why you are still longing for her after 37 years - there is still a part of you expecting her to be OK and to come home from hospital. Does that sound about right?

The problem is that the hypnotically imprinted experiences do not respond particularly well to reason - if they did, as a successful, capable woman, you would have sorted this out a long time ago, wouldn' t you?

Please consider seeing a psychologist properly trained in clinical hypnosis (preferably one also trained in transpersonal techniques) to help you deal with this " from this side" .

Go well

Reply to HomoeoPsych
Posted by: a friend | 2008/08/11

i dont believe your om would want you so unhappy,she is probably looking down at you and your family in sadness,cuz all she ever wanted was you to have a happy life,whilst keeping her in your heart in peace,not gotta realise life is for the living and where your mom is,is much better than here,so be happy,go on with your life and live it happily,one day you will see her and that happiness is for eternity.

Reply to a friend

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