During the month of May we celebrate Mother’s Day. This is a great day for Hallmark as well as for restaurants for either brunch or dinner. This is also a very difficult and painful day for mothers who have lost a child to suicide as well as for children who have lost a mother to suicide as well as for grandmothers who have lost a grandchild. No matter what the relationship this day is very painful because that loved one is not here with a card or present or there is not a mother to buy a card for or shop for a present. Going through the Hallmark section is painful because one sees all of those cards with very tender messages and survivors realize that with the loss of this loved one the day has very painful reminders and memories. For other family members it is important to respect the feelings of these people for whom Mother’s Day is especially painful. There might be other children who want to celebrate with their mothers but there is one child missing and this missing child seems to dominate the attention of the grieving mother. It is a reminder to grieving mothers to assure these surviving children that they count but for the time being this missing child is a predominant factor on the grief journey. The all important aspect is to respect the feelings for those people for whom Mother’s Day is especially painful.
There is a lot of attention these days to the right and left side of the brain. The right side of the brain deals with feelings and creativity and issues of that sort. The left side of the brain is more factual and deals with the more logical areas of life. Some people have a tendency to have more right side brain activity and some people have a tendency to have more left side brain activity. Neither one is correct or incorrect. This is just the way people are created and this results in the type of vocation or profession a person will decide to spend their lives. For example, artists tend to have more right side brain activity. That is the reason that they are able to create and compose pieces of art and music. Engineers and mathematicians tend to have more left side brain activity. Of course, there are exceptions but this is more the rule of thumb.
Women tend to be more right side in their brain activity and that is the reason women tend to be more sensitive and in touch with their feelings. They are more expressive of their feelings both of themselves as well as to other members of the family and friends. I don’t mean to imply that men are not in touch with their feelings or are not sensitive to the feelings of others but women seem to be more in touch with feelings and are able to be more expressive. This can be a good thing and a bad thing for women who are grieving the loss of a child to suicide or any woman who is grief stricken due to the suicide of a loved one. The feelings of guilt or anger or shame can take over and cause a person to become mired in the grief reaction. Feelings need to be felt during the grief journey but these feelings should not dominate the person because they have the power to destroy the person in the process. At some time in the process of the grief journey there has to be some type of logical thinking that people engage in. That is where the left side of the brain comes in. Women can beat themselves up because they were not good mothers or daughters or granddaughters or sons or grandsons and they can conclude that their inattention caused this loved one to take their life. This is erroneous thinking and an erroneous conclusion. If there was any inattention this did not cause this loved one to take their life. The root cause of the suicide most likely was some form of mental illness that took over the life of this loved one. At some point the left side of the brain needs to take over and the grieving person becomes more logical and is able to say to themselves that they were a good mother or a good daughter or son and that it was not their fault that this suicide occurred. The feelings are pushed into the background and more logical thinking is utilized. Illogical thinking can cause grief stricken people a great deal of discomfort and false conclusions. In no way do survivors cause the suicide of a loved one. If there is to be any blame attached to the suicide of a loved one it resides with that person who found life too painful to be able to continue. The grief journey should comprise activities both of the right and the left part of the brain. Neither one should dominate. There should be some time dealing with the right side of the brain and deal with the various feelings that accompany the journey of grief –feelings such as guilt, anger, shame or embarrassment. Don’t allow these feelings or activities to dominate the journey. Allow the left side of the brain to do its job which is to be more objective, logical, rational and analytical.
Grieving people find it very difficult to blame their loved one for the suicide. Survivors feel guilty in assessing blame to their loved one because this loved one is not here to accept the blame or to defend themselves. Survivors might want to blame a boss or a job or a girlfriend or a boyfriend or a spouse or an ex-spouse. It is much easier to blame someone or something for the suicide and not to blame this loved one. It is okay to “blame” this loved one. They were in so much pain and suicide appeared to be the “logical” choice for them. Let’s not forget that mental illness can distort reality. For survivors there is no sense to suicide. For those loved ones who found life so painful their suicide made all the sense in the world. It will never make any sense to those left behind to grieve the loss of this cherished person.
I do not want to categorize either gender as being right or left brain. Obviously, either gender could be either one. I think that most people probably have a little bit of both in their makeup. This is the way it should be. Some people have a tendency to be more right or left brain. I do not mean to put people in any category but I think that it is an interesting topic to think about. Since we are celebrating Mother’s Day this month I thought that it would be something to think about and examine which tendency would fit your disposition or makeup.
As always, I want to assure each and every member of the LOSS family of my thoughts and prayers and encourage each of you to do the same for each other –especially for those members who have recently joined our family and especially for those people who will find Mother’s Day very painful.
Keep On Keepin’ On,