I lost my mom on June 13, 2019. But the truth is I lost her long before that. Her cause of death was COPD and after she fell and broke her hip, she died from a complex set of circumstances, addiction to pain killers being one of them. My mother was a high-functioning, successful, business person. She was known as the life of the party and my dad just adored her. And he was super loyal to her. There was really no detectable “thing” I can point to about my mom – that is, before the tragic death of my grandparents. My grandfather killed my grandmother and then killed himself. They were my mother’s parents. Life changed for her that day, she was unable to recover. Doctors began prescribing anti-depressants, anxiety medication… something to try and help with the pain. I believe this is where the addiction started.
When people ask me about my mom’s condition and how it impacted me, I don’t know what to say often. You see, I was married and had my first child, so I didn’t know intimately all that was happening. I do know that after my grandparent’s tragic death, Mom was never the same. To complicate matters, she also suffered from serious back issues. She sought every treatment under the sun and eventually had to have a 12 hour spinal surgery. After that surgery she was prescribed stronger pain medications. And it was downhill from there. She continued to be in real physical pain and emotional pain that was overwhelming. She looked for answers in the bottom of a bottle.
During her illness and decline over 15 years, I remember being very frustrated with my dad because he was at my mom’s beck and call. He enabled Mom’s behaviors. For example… he would sneak her in through the back door of the doctor’s office because she felt shame about going in through the front door, he would lie for her, make excuses for her, validate her bad behavior and normalize it. It was painful and chaotic to watch and experience. My mother never talked about her pain from the death of her parents, and I believe that trauma along with the very real physical pain was a recipe for disaster.
After she died, I felt guilt and relief at the same time. For example, I felt bad that I didn’t feel MORE sad. I remember praying for God to take her home when I would see her in so much pain and my dad go through the hardship. And after mom died, I felt so conflicted. “Isn’t this what I had prayed for?” It’s been a year now since her death, and each time I share her story I feel more healing happen. I have come to realize and learn that I have been grieving the person she was before all the tragedy happened. I grieve the life she should have been able to live. I miss her.