Losing Mom

Joannie Rochette

Anyone who is watching the women’s figure skating at the Olympics in Vancouver this week knows about the heartbreak of Canadian skater, Joannie Rochette. Just 2 days before she was to start the competition and perform her short program, her 55 year old mother died suddenly of a heart attack. Joannie made the difficult decision to go on and compete. She attended all practices and seemed to find some solace on the ice.

By all accounts, she was especially close to her mother. Her mom had played a huge role in Joannie’s skating career leading her to this Olympic moment as a medal contender skating on home ice in front of her entire country. As she took the ice for her short program, you could feel the love and support she was receiving from her fellow Canadians. But also from the whole world, as her personal heartbreak was on view for all to see.

As I watched her skate her short program with such raw emotion as well as strength and courage, it made me think about this unique and special bond we share with our mothers. When we lose them (whether suddenly at a young age, as Joannie did, or when they are elderly and we are well into middle age ourselves), we are losing a truly influential person in our life. What does it do to us?

Laurie and I have received a number of emails and there have been several comments made on the Motherrr.com Facebook page about this very topic. From the beginning we have chosen to include the topic of loss on the website. Our relationships with our mothers can be just as complicated an issue once they are gone as when they are still alive. Those daughters who have close, good relationships with their moms are left with terrible grief, and an empty space in their hearts and in their lives. Many of them have lost their best friend, mentor, role model, maybe even confidant. If only every daughter could be so lucky.

But what if your relationship with your mom was difficult, frustrating, even abusive, destructive? What if you’re left with regrets, unresolved issues, anger, hurt? Good or bad, our relationships with our mothers live on even when our moms are no longer physically present. That’s why it’s important for us (not for anyone else, but for us) to try to resolve our relationships with our mothers as much as possible while they are still here so we can hope to find some healing.

Our mother is still our mother, whether she has been a good one or not. And she has had a strong influence on us; again, whether a good one or not. This relationship is a tie that binds one way or another. Even if the relationship is strongly challenged, the prospect of such a major loss can bring to the forefront your mom’s human frailty and that may be an opportunity for understanding; not for the purpose of excusing hurtful behavior, but to try to repair the relationship.

My heart breaks for Joannie this week and beyond. I wonder why this had to happen to her and why now, but I take great inspiration from her example. Her mother is still with her in spirit and in her heart urging her on, supporting her, and loving her. While not everyone has this type of relationship with their mother, is there still something to learn from this loss?

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