Loneliness Kills


Dad in kitchenMy dad died on Mother’s Day 12 years ago.  He always hated the holiday so it seemed fitting that he left mom on that day.  The year was 2001, the same year as 9-11, and I remember how mom cried because she didn’t have the comfort of her mate to share the grief of such a horrible tragedy.

For the first two years after dad died, mom was understandably very sad.  She felt like she “hadn’t done enough” to help dad in his battle with cancer.  The truth is just the opposite.  She was the most amazing, patient and loving caregiver.  Whether she got up in the middle of the night to make him a milkshake or help him off the floor after a fall, she was there for him.

For over 40 years, dad was pretty tough on mom.  She desperately wanted to please him and often her efforts were not good enough.  She loved being a mom and was arguably, one of the best there has been.

The reality of facing death really changed the way dad treated mom.   He became more loving and treated her with a tenderness she had never known before.  He would hold her hand in the middle of the night and tell her when he was scared.   As he got closer to his death, mom half-jokingly said “Why in the hell did you wait so long to treat me like this?”

Twelve years later, mom is enjoying a very social and vibrant life.  Mom and Me in AmeliaFor her 75th Birthday, she went to Alaska and took a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier.  She loves to spend time with her family (especially her granddaughter), cook and have people over for dinner.  She is funny and loves to play cards and dominoes.  She is a pistol.

But she is lonely.  Having a lot of friends and staying busy doesn’t replace losing your husband.  You miss the comfort of sharing your day over dinner and waking up together.  After years of having another person there, she was suddenly alone.

We all die a little bit every day.  Death is inevitable.  But as mom gets older, she continues to lose more friends.  Last week, one of her best friends passed away leaving her with yet another hole in her heart.  And she had to grieve alone, as she has done for the last 12 years.

Loneliness kills—a little at a time.  But the accumulation can result in being “ready” to let go before your time.  Mom has told me that she is ready.  I think she secretly wishes she would just fall asleep one night and not wake up in this world.  The desire to hold my dad’s hand again is a powerful pull.

It makes me sad beyond words…but who am I to judge?


  • phil@legendarycoaches.com
    December 27, 2013

    ..wow.. so powerful. Guest too real..
    They say what don’t killsya, buidsya…or maybe that just what I say to myself as/when navigate my ownself through my own lifes shiz-net..
    ..but I think w matters of the heart, each major blow..can move us mentally, spiritually anyway.. closer to the inevitability that is death.
    None us gonna get out alive this world..so whenever we ain’t truly living, I think we are during most a little bit.
    I have my own story w my natural father is just found/reconnected with.. who I truly think was during on the inside…and was just waiting for the outside to catch up, and finally Xmas eve-eve/23rd 2007..ate some toast and butter and hot chocolate…and went for a nap, and that was that.
    And much as he’d done and been through, jails more than my kids had even been alive to that point I’d found out.. and I felt I ‘had’ to possibly reschedule seeing him the next day..his grandkids, a grandson..and me his only blood son, first time in 25 years..
    I replay over and over.. and think that despite his already past abused health worsening, he just finally decided to punt.

    • December 27, 2013

      Wow. Thanks for sharing your story Phil.

    • phil
      December 27, 2013

      * just too real.. not ‘Guess..’
      * ,..we die just a little bit.. not ‘during most’..a little bit..

      …’smart’ phones my ass…

      • December 27, 2013

        Auto-correction is hysterical 🙂

  • Lisa Stanley
    December 27, 2013

    Wow that was powerful. We lost my dad two years ago on December 17. He was the same way with my mo. They were together over fifty years. It has been really hard on my mom but she is doing much better. The holidays are always the roughest. I can only hope that I have that much time with my husband we have been married 29 years. For my parents to be married over 50 years just inspires us to strive for that. Molly that was wonderful what you wrote. Take care and have a wonderful New Year.

    • December 27, 2013

      Thanks Lisa!! I’m sorry to hear you lost your dad and hope your mom is doing okay…very hard stuff…sending lots of love to you and your families 🙂

  • Michele piper
    December 27, 2013

    I loved your mom and dad as my own and can only imagine how your mom feels. We actually talked about it a little when we were together in November. Keeping her in my thoughts and prayers!!

    • December 28, 2013

      Thanks Michele. Mom and I thought it was funny that you didn’t know that Dad loved you (or even LIKED you). We are still laughing about that…you just had to know him, right? Love you.

  • Michael
    January 2, 2014

    Thanks Molly, I used to walk up the stairs with mom…with my hands out to catch her if she fell…she would say, “What are you doing? Get awawy from me. I can do this!”…One year later she falls down the steps…I’m having a very hard time forgiving myself for leaving her but that is what she wanted for me…she was the defination of “selfless”. One thing you said that really hits home…mom was in and out of being “here” and not…Robin said the last lucid thing she said was “do you think I killed dad?”…my answer was…im surprised he lived as long as he did. My mom as well as your mom with the humor…even in a bad time…Robin finds her at the bottom of the steps…after 12 hrs of laying there and says (much like your mom) “I dont mind closing my eyes and never waking up but…I didn’t want to go out like this”…Love you Molly…Thank you

    • January 3, 2014

      Thanks Mike. The passing of your mom is what prompted me to write this. She was lucky to have such an amazing family…with so much love and laughter…thanks for taking the time to share your stories… xo

  • Vicki
    January 2, 2014

    Such an emotional post. My mother lost the love of her life 23 years ago and we all miss him so much. But not as much as she does. Your mother is an amazing, strong and wonderful woman.

    • January 3, 2014

      Thanks Vicki. Your mom is a strong and amazing woman too. 23 years is a very long time. I do believe love helps keep people alive…don’t you? Thanks for taking the time to comment. Love you.

  • Joanne
    January 3, 2014

    Tell your mom for me she is never alone. We should all live like we’re dying. How much better the world would be. Each day is a gift.

    • January 3, 2014

      Isn’t that the truth 🙂 Thank you Joanne.

  • Lucia
    January 6, 2014

    There’s a perfect timing for everything. As I’m reading your post, I’m living the aging and difficult process of seeing my father (diabetic) weaken every day physically. At 79, he got his right leg amputated right before Thanksgiving 2013, went to a skilled nursing facility for therapy for 3-4 weeks, then went home for two weeks and fell flat on his face which resulted in face fractures and now back at skilled nursing facility until he recovers from fractures and strengthens his left leg. He is suppose to get a prosthetic leg in a couple of weeks, which motivates him to continue therapy and trying hard to recover. I think he might be ready to part one of these days, but as much as I try to be ready to let go and see him go, it’s so very difficult. But in the meantime, I enjoy every moment, which are often, with my Dad. We create beautiful memories just sitting by his bedside, chatting about anything and everything. Happy New Year to you!

    • January 6, 2014

      Hi Lucia: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. While it has elements of sadness, the love that you have for your father is what shines the most. Thank you again for sharing…and Happy New Year to you too!

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