Death is More than a Loss of Person: Its Steals Our Hope

Loss of a person

And complicates our grief

A friend texted me this morning. Her mother died yesterday.

And my heart broke.

Relationships with family are rarely simple. Each person is more than a familiar presence but also occupies an important role. Mother is an archetype that embodies unconscious longing, needs, and wishes.

Take my mom, for instance. She is more than a personality who independently operates; who has a past, unique tastes, interests, and hobbies. Though she is fully present as herself to me, she represents much more.

She is my mom, a word loaded with obligations and expectations. Like all of us, some areas of which she’s done well and others not so good.

It is Hope that there will be more in the future that allows us to live with the inadequacies of these relationships.

Death is not just losing the presence of someone we loved or wanted to love; it brings a closing to the relationship. It shuts the door for any possibility of more.
My friend’s mother had not been the kind of parent she needed. There were many holes and gaps in their relationship. Too often, my friend mothered more than she was mothered.

She didn’t just lose a person she knew well; she also lost the hope for the relationship-that-could-have-been. Now gone are her dreams of being daughter-loved with someone she’d wanted to have loved better.

Her grief will be complicated as she mourns on multiple levels: for what was, what is, and what should have been and never will be.

Yesterday, death closed the door on all those possibilities with a painful finality.

Today, my friend texted to tell me her mother had died. In those few words, I heard all the things left unsaid about what she’d lost; and my heart broke.

For more of my thoughts on grief:

The Grieving Don’t Need Pity, Just the Freedom to Mourn: In our way, in our time, and for long as it lasts

Learning to Live with Grief: No Such Thing as Being Ready


Kerry Kerr McAvoy, a psychologist, author and writer, is in cultivating healthy relationships, deconstructing narcissism, and understanding various other mental health-related issues. 

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