My grandma died this past July of Lou Gherig's. Her death came two and a half years after the diagnosis, so we'd known for a long time that she would go. Anyway, she and I were never close, she openly favored my cousin over my brothers and I. My mom (her daughter) and she weren't too close either, but mom did spend a lot of time taking care of her as she gradually deteriorated (my grandpa helped when he felt like it). Now the thing is that my mom can't seem to get over her death and it's really driving me nuts.
Every chance she gets it's "oh, I was here with grandma when we did such and such". My mom also had a slide show video made with pictures of her for the funeral and she's always watching it. I leave the room because it's irritating. They also had a couple paperweights made with grandma's ashes swirled inside; they look nice but are horribly morbid. Mom's also doing other things that are downright wacky. I asked her what car I should take to pick up my aunt and her family from the airport in, and it was "take the van because grandma helped us get it." I know it's awful, but I just want to tell my mom to get over it. For now I'll keep my mouth shut.
Of course I had my tears when she was diagnosed and died, and I'm completely fine now. I see death as just another part of life. God wouldn't let us die if He didn't have bigger and better things for us to do. My mom shares the same belief. When my other grandma died back in 1998 my dad's side seemed to handle things more "professionally". No hokey videos or paperweights, just a proper service and her picture hung on the wall at my grandpa's house. My parents are divorced and remarried. My dad's side of the family just dealt with it privately and there isn't much mention of grandma and how or where she was when something happened, just happy reminicing.
I guess I'm just one of those people who grieve quietly and privately. I guess it's just that I don't see how everyone can be so stuck on something they've known would come for two and a half years. I'd be totally understanding if grandma died suddenly, but come on! It took me a couple months to grieve when my dog died suddenly, but I wasn't making a big production over him. I'm still not quite over him, but no one knows it. Watching videos with him in it just make it worse. I did get depressed when he died, but that's over with.
Anyway, am I being totally selfish for feeling that my mom needs to cope a little better? She doesn't know I feel this way so it's not like I'm trying to justify anything that I said/will say to her. I'm just...?
It sounds like your mother may have a lot of regrets about her relationship with her mother--and now it is too late to change things. It's also not easy to watch someone you love die a long and slow lingering death.
My mother was the same way when her mother died, but I don't remember feeling resentful or annoyed by it. My grandmother died somewhat suddenly--she was diagnosed with cancer the week of Thanksgiving 1993 and died in mid January 1994. We had very little time to say good-bye, because her health went downhill so fast--by Christmas she was bed-ridden and comatose. We were in the middle of planning my wedding, and my mother was heartbroken that my grandmother wouldn't be there to see it. She still mentions my grandmother with profound sadness even 8 years later.
Everyone grieves differently, as you mentioned in your post. Just try to be more sympathetic to your mother's feelings. She probably regrets not being closer to her mother and wishes she had done a lot of things differently. Maybe you could reassure her that she helped her mother out when she needed it most, and that might help her find some peace. You might try talking to her about her grief, in a gentle and loving way, if the right situation presents itself. And time will help some, so just hang in there with her.
One more thing you can keep in mind, don't let the relationship between you and your mother deteriorate. Since my grandmother died, I have made a great effort to improve my relationship with my mother, which went downhill big-time in my late teens and early 20's. I would like to know that if either of us died suddenly, I would have no regrets about my relationship with my mother.
I totally agree with Greenberry. Your mom must feel that something was lost she can never get now, which is a chance to be close to her mother. We all handle things in different ways. My sister, who was never close to our mother, now that our mom passed away, is the one that is making copies of videos of our mom, sending us pictures of her, asking us to join her in paying for a huge floral arrangement for her grave, etc. At first I resented it, but I realized that what I really resented was having to talk about it, or risk offending my sister. So, I began to politely refuse to participate in anything I really didn't want to do.
(In my case, I don't send flowers to dead people).
She thought I was insulting our mother, but I explained that, to me, it is what we do when a person is alive that is showing respect, and my sister got over it.
Your feelings are just feelings, so they are neither right nor wrong. Neither are your mother's feelings right nor wrong. Loss of a mother can hit really hard, esp. when the relationship was not great. It is fine to talk openly about your true feelings about your grandmother, that you were not close and have let go of her. Let your mom know that YOU are still there for her now, and that you want to think about HER now that grandmother has passed on.
Try to be patient and let your mother grieve her own way, and this should pass. At some point, it is fine to ask your mom if you and she could put the stuff about grandmother away. But it would be good to respect her wishes if she is not ready.
I think that your mom's grief is uncomfortable to you, because you still have grief of your own. Stuffing it down inside doesn't make it go away. That we were not close doesn't make the loss less. That there is now no longer any chance to get close sometimes hurts more. In fact, when one has grief, residue of the grief can come up any time the rest of our lives. We can talk about it, cry, or scream and get it out, that is about all we can do.
We feel better for a time, and move on til the next time it comes up.
I think you and your mom are just being normal, being yourselves.
It's hard to compete with memories or a ghost. Sounds as though, to your mother, her mother is more alive, more real than you.
Someone once told me that the intensity of the relationship determines how long it takes to recover from its loss. Even though your mother and grandmother may not have appeared to have been close, their relationship, at least on your mother's side may have been very intense [i.e. remembering and reliving past arguments]. Talk to your mother about her relationship with her mother, it may help clarify your mother's behavior.