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Lori Casey BSN MDiv., BCC-PCHAC

The Mom is Just the Moon Reflection

When I read Michelle Butler’s article I was struck by her recollection of the people, what was said (and not said), and how she felt on the day and days immediately after her mother died. Although I was an adult when my mother died, I don’t remember anything- it was a blur. It was interesting to me that at nine, it was important to know her mother was located in a “place.” C.S. Lewis writes of his initial feelings and struggle with simply wanting to know where his wife Joy was located (after her death) in his book, “A Grief Observed.” For Michelle, a child raised in the church, she had learned of a place where people reside after death, but it was a tremendous comfort to locate heaven to specific spot where she could connect with her mom. Missing the bedtime ritual of being tucked in by her mother, she also found comfort in situating the location of heaven/mom in the moon. The moon ‘shining down on her’ reminded her of her mother watching over her until her maturity “pushed away her childhood innocence” and the ability to use her imagination to “overcome the awareness of her mother’s absence.”
My mother suffered with so much pain for over three years before her death, that when I would go home to visit my parents, I would often hear her crying and asking God to help her bear the pain, take the pain away or let her die. I never struggled with wanting to know the place or location of her soul (in terms of where Heaven is on Google maps) because I was so relieved she was not suffering anymore. Now I think of her “out there somewhere in the presence of God.” When I go home (Huntington, IN) I visit her grave and I am grateful for the tangible place to take flowers. My sister placed a solar flower near her headstone. My brother brought wind chimes, and my father still agonizes over the type of granite he bought for her headstone (there is humor in this as my mother was an interior decorator and he knew he had to “get it right.”) Taking flowers to my mom’s grave is comforting to me.
Michelle writes that her father’s patient listening, willingness to grieve with her, the words “If we stick together, we can make it” were a source of comfort and hope for her brother and herself. The many hours her father spent listening to her, the pastor’s counseling and the many women who were supportive and “gave her pieces of of the childhood she would have had with her mother” were all instrumental in providing a foundation for those days/weeks when grief would seem to incapacitate.
For those who lose a parent, sibling or a caretaker who is as close as a parent at a young age, grief would be cyclical as maturity would bring about new or different questions and a sort of new need to make sense of the death and loss. I really appreciate how she revisits for us her grief progression through time. I resonate with her in the many ways grief is so very hard, and that at times, and fully expressing all emotions, recognize that she is right, sometimes even “comfort is not enough.” Sometimes there is a hole in my heart that aches for what was or what might have been. But then the reality of the ravages of disease reminds me that the living with my mother in intractable pain was much harder than the living is without her suffering.
In our readings for this class, the most prominent themes for moving through grief include of the necessity of sincerely caring people who are dependably present, comfortable with grief, and extremely good listeners.