I Wished She Had Died Instead

Written by Char Groen

I Wished She Had Died Instead.pngWhat a horrible thing to think but it was the ugly truth buried inside years of a poor, seemingly non-existent relationship.

At the age of 19, while away attending college, I received the devastating news that my dad died from a massive heart attack. Nothing could’ve prepared me for this loss; I entered a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. The end of the semester arrived and I dreaded having to face the reality of my father’s absence.

The weeks and months following were heart wrenching. The grief was overwhelming. I was living with a ‘stranger’ and she was my mom. There were no years of a strong mother/daughter relationship on which to weather this storm. I never felt an emotional connection with her. There was no stockpile of memories of experiences and chat times together. What was wrong with me? What had I done to not feel loved or wanted by my own mother. I never felt like I was good enough. I could readily hear a ‘broken record’ reminder of words that gave me a feeling of rejection.   And now, we were faced with a loss, which only intensified our struggling relationship.

Anger and hatred rose within me and with tears streaming down my face, I cried out to God saying, “Why didn’t You take her instead?” Did I really just wish that my mom had died instead? My thoughts now voiced became a haunting source of shame and guilt. I felt like an orphan even though my one parent was still alive. I was a failure as a daughter. I envied other mother/daughter relationships and ached for one that I never experienced. Years passed with no changes; distance seemed to be the best remedy for our ‘relationship’.

Just recently, a sibling shared a prayer that was written by my Mom. As I listened, tears streamed down my face; I was hearing, for the first time, words that gave me a glimpse into her heart, her struggles and battles.

People aren’t given a ‘green light’ prior to becoming parents. They become parents with the backdrop of their own life experiences, their struggles, strengths, successes and failures.

In August 1999, my mom suffered a massive stroke. She became dependent for care; it was difficult to see her become so fragile. Her mind and speech were not affected by the stroke and I then realized that God had given me an opportunity to make things right with my mom.

I asked for her forgiveness for my rebellion, my poor attitude and failure to her as a daughter. How could we undo all those lost years and was it even possible?

I took the opportunity to honor her. I honored her for the values that she instilled in her kids, for her love for music, for her hard work and sacrifice in raising eight kids during a time when there were few luxuries that we now experience, and all the while she was battling severe depression, and insecurity for years. I found myself grieving a mother/daughter relationship that never was but was thankful for the period of time given to mend some breeches in our relationship before she passed away in 2001.

As children, we are often shielded from seeing life from our parents’ perspective and experience. We are not always privy to their personal struggles or to their brokenness that may never have been healed, or to pain that was so deeply buried that it impacted their ability to effectively parent. As an adult, I am now able to see the past from my parents’ perspective and I honor them for the sacrifices, the values, and for the principles they instilled in me.

Deuteronomy 4:16 says to “Honor your father and mother…” and it was a passage that I wrestled with for years. What does it mean to ‘honor’ your mother and father?

To me, it means to respect, honor, and esteem them for the fact that they were my parents. To honor does not mean everything they did was right, nor does it excuse any pain that may have resulted. To honor, meant that I chose to forgive and release their failures and/or shortcomings and to acknowledge and be thankful for the many amazing things that did happen. All I have to do is look in the mirror to realize that my life is also marked with many failures and shortcomings. I can forgive because I’ve been forgiven much!! I am a life transformed by the love of God through Jesus Christ.

Love, Char

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