Written by Janine Rudin

Voices

My mother died

Having always had a difficult relationship with her mother, Janine Rudin has been struggling with an equally complicated flood of emotions since she passed away last month.

Janine with her own daughters.

Janine with her own daughters.

My mother died just over a week ago and I am still numb; I am still trying to make sense of this loss. Despite our difficult relationship, the pain of her death is immeasurable and I am left struggling to make sense of her life as well as her death.

My mother was a challenging woman, with undiagnosed mental health problems that could make her detached, cruel, needy and childlike. Everyone always had to tread carefully around her for fear of causing a rift – she was capable of quickly shattering relationships with anyone, whether they be the postman, a neighbour or one of her children.

Eighteen months ago my mother cast me aside – for challenging her morphine use and trying to get some help from her GP – and I didn’t see her again. She wrote me horrible letters, she told people unforgivable lies about me and she sold my childhood home.

But we did speak again, shortly before she died.

When I found out she was dying I wrote to her and sent pictures of her granddaughters. She rang to say she was ready to die, she was in pain, she was tired and she didn’t want me to visit; she didn’t want to see me again.

“Her death has hit me harder than I expected it to. I thought there would be some relief but that hasn’t come; instead there is a lot of sadness and every day there are tears.”

My mother has died and her rejection cuts deep. With her death there is also the loss of hope: hope of reconciliation, hope of remorse, or hope of some normality.

I have also been left with guilt. She was ill and unstable – more so since my stepdad died – and I wonder if I could have done more to help her. My rational brain says no because I really did try, but my emotional daughter brain becomes upset at the thought of my mother suffering.

She wasn’t a normal mother but she was my mother and I loved her; she is the only mother I have ever had.

I desperately wanted her to be well, to be happy, to want to enjoy life with her children and grandchildren, but she always struggled with life. She rarely seemed happy, she could be bitter and jealous and there was always an addiction of some sort: brandy, pain medication and, finally, liquid morphine.

There are very few lovely memories but there are some. After my stepdad died I felt like we had become closer but that only makes the rejection hurt more. I am sad that, at the end, there was no love. I was pushed away, my brother was pushed away, her sisters were pushed away and it sounds like others around her grew tired of her lies and her criticism.

“Despite our difficult relationship, the pain of her death is immeasurable and I am left struggling to make sense of her life as well as her death.”

My mother walked away from her four young children – my half siblings – when she was in her 20s. I have never known why. She left my dad when I was three but she took me with her. I don’t know why, but I assume it is because my stepdad wanted me. I will always be grateful that he raised me well.

My mother caused a lot of pain but, rather naively, I didn’t expect to grieve like this; I didn’t expect this amount of pain, I didn’t expect to miss her. Her death has hit me harder than I expected it to. I thought there would be some relief but that hasn’t come; instead there is a lot of sadness and every day there are tears.

In death there is no celebration of her life and that breaks my heart. It leaves me struggling for clarity, trying to make sense of her life, the decisions she made and the pain she caused.

She was a complicated woman who often struggled, but maybe she coped as best she could. I guess her legacy to me is to parent differently: I want my children to feel loved, to know I have time for them, to know they matter.

@BirthandBabyCo

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Written by Janine Rudin

Antenatal teacher, postnatal group leader, birth & baby specialist, writer, mother, wife, friend, me. My time is spent with my family, working with parents and trying not to eat all the biscuits. @BirthandBabyCo