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What It's Like To Grieve For Someone Who Is Still Alive

03/04/2017 14:57

In my recent therapy sessions my therapist told me that she thought I was grieving. I didn't understand it because my understanding of grief as a concept was that it was something felt after somebody had died. After a person had suffered a great loss. But what I didn't realise was that that's exactly it - grief often follows loss.

I'd like to make it completely clear that I do not wish to undermine anybody or any experience in writing this post, I simply feel that there are things that need to come out. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a parent by natural means and I would never want to imply that I do, but I do know what it's like to lose a parent by choice.

It's a really odd situation - and feeling - and I think that this is why I can't shake it at the moment. I say 'at the moment' because it seems to come in waves. I can go weeks, months, without any kind of feeling towards it but it's always there. It always comes back. I've found that generally with the majority of my experiences, progress starts to be made when I can understand why I'm feeling the way that I'm feeling. That's why therapy has been so helpful for me: it gave me explanations. For this, though, I will never have an explanation.

In some senses I think my situation is fairly rare, though forgive me if I am mistaken. I've never met anybody else who knows what it's like to be left by their mother. Fathers, yes, sadly this is more common I feel (I do not wish to compare, though. My dad has been integral to my upbringing) but not mothers, generally. I long to meet somebody who knows how I feel. I long to meet someone who shares the anger and confusion that I've been experiencing. The grief. Of course, I wouldn't wish it upon anybody and I wouldn't like people to know how it feels in that sense but I just wish somebody understood.

I think often people struggle to understand because they're like well she's alive, why don't you talk to her? Or forget about her, she's no mother.

It's an extremely complex jumble of emotions for me. The question I ask is this: if a woman can allow their child to experience trauma and then abandon them, are they really a mother? Biology says yes. I say no. Maybe I'm bitter, maybe I'm angry. But that biology is always there - I will never escape that. That's what makes it difficult. Biology dictates that I would always look like her and behave like her - though only to some extent, I must make that clear - and that she carried me and birthed me, regardless of whatever would happen after that. They say that whole thing about the 'mother-child' bond or something - a bond that, for me, is broken and will never, ever be fixed. Not because of my bitterness or anger, not because I'm ungrateful for the fantastic upbringing I've had without her, because I have had a great upbringing that I will always be grateful for - but because of the plain fact that she ever left in the first place. Well in fact, the plain fact that it ever got to the point of her losing custody of me in the first place. I can deal with that - she lost custody because of previous events and I was better off with my dad - I have always been better off with my dad - but that's not my point. My point is that a mother made a choice to leave, regardless of custody or anything else. She could see me if she wanted. Whether that be in a controlled environment, or not, she made the decision that she'd leave me altogether.

As I've got older I've become more ok with that. I've had a great upbringing with great parents and I am grateful everyday for that. But that biology is there and those waves are there. As they approach, I ride the waves knowing that soon they'll be beneath me and that, ultimately, I am me because of every experience that has lead up to now. I have the values and the morals that I have because of this, and because of the parents who behaved like parents. In that sense, I'm glad it happened. I'm glad to be me. Now, it's about accepting inevitable waves of grief and watching them reduce over time. I am no longer consumed, but still swimming. One day, I will be walking away from the shore and, though I will never forget, maybe I will understand.

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