Facing Death and Grief in a Divided Family

Memorial Funeral Table

I must admit, I am glad February is behind us all. It wasn’t a very kind month. In fact, no sooner than the month began, so too did my lessons on facing death, dealing with grief, and family division lines. I lost someone very important to me, something irreplaceable.

My mother passed away on Monday, February 6. It was around 12:20 in the afternoon. I was there, all the way to the very end and I would like to believe (hope) that she knew it. I had only about an hour and fifteen minutes of sleep in four days, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

She had a rally day, a common occurrence for those facing death. She was able to visit with some friends and see some she hadn’t seen in awhile. She and I even had some ice cream, homemade vanilla with chocolate syrup, same as we did when I was a child. That moment was priceless.

I guess I never knew just how big of a force my mom was, despite her small frame. But walking through her house without her, there is no mistake about it. It wasn’t the shingles, the rafters, or the home interior that made it a home. It was her spirit, love and her presence. Now, only the empty shell remains.

What about the others left behind? Dad? Brother and sister-in-law. Nephew? Well, the dividing lines that I always knew existed became painfully sharp once mom’s last breath was drawn. I honestly never knew just how how much of a divided family we were. I think I have surely seen how low some people are willing to go. Those who know the truth have told me “Not to worry, as God sees all.” I hope they are right. I am trapped under the gun, simply because of how close mom and I were.

I was able to retrieve a lot of things that were important to my mom out of the trash, following my father’s house cleaning party. Many keepsakes, however, are gone forever. I am thankful for the few cherished items I now have safely tucked away.

For the family members that “turned on the tears” as soon as mom died, the same ones that were just days earlier focused on the Super Bowl and selling the house and what all they wanted, maybe karma will come around and pay you a visit one day. Maybe, just maybe, you will be facing the death of someone you truly cared about, in the same way that I did. What’s most important to me, however, is that mom knew. I left no words unsaid and no touch withheld. No regrets on my end. Well, maybe one.

At mom’s service, the minister said that in the end, what my mom would’ve wanted most was for her family to be united. I am very sorry mom, but I believe we have all let you down. And a divided family is a complete understatement.

My work here with this family is done.

Author: James Patton

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