elizabethgrace Asked May 2011

Does anyone else struggle with Mother’s Day when your mom has a history of mental illness and dementia?

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Does anyone else struggle with Mother's Day? I feel horrible admitting it, but with 30+ years of her mental illness and now dementia, I can't remember having a mother - only being in the mother role with her. I look at Mother's Day cards and think how inappropriate most of them are to our situation. This mother's day, I just feel tired and sad when I think of her.

Friends are posting loving tributes to their mothers on Facebook and some of them have gone down the path of dementia or Alzheimers with their mothers the last few years of their lives. I really wonder why I can't feel the same about mine.

By the time my father died, we had gone through so much with him and so much drama and bitterness from him, that all we felt was relief. I wonder if someday all I'll feel for losing Mom will be sadness for the life she never had.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack May 2011
Please don't feel guilty. Relief is very common (such as after your dad died). Many people won't admit to even a little relief that it's all over because they feel guilty doing so.
If they had a wonderful relationship with their parents - always - maybe they only feel grief. However, if it makes you feel any better, your situation - while somewhat harder than average - may be more common than you know. You can stop feeling guilty. Feelings are just feelings and you have a right to those.
You'd like to have a wonderful relationship to remember, but you don't and won't. Hopefully, after it's all over and you have time to rest, you will be able to make a gratitude list of good things. Few relationships are all bad. For now, you may want to talk to a spiritual leader or a counselor if sadness or guilt is overcoming you. You are a good person in very difficult circumstances.
Take care of yourself,
Carol
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