Last night, my mother died peacefully in her sleep. She was 102, and had been increasingly deaf, blind, bedridden, incontinent and confused for the last few years.
On hearing the news early this morning, my initial reaction was one of relief that she isn’t suffering any more, though it’s too early to tell what feelings I might have in the longer term about her. I’ve spent many years in therapy working on the consequences of her behaviour towards me, so hopefully that will now help me to cope with her death.
My mother was a complicated, intelligent, energetic and demanding woman. She was very controlling, dominating, angry, frustrated, and emotionally abusive. Throughout, and beyond, my childhood, her unpredictable, explosive rages were utterly terrifying. During these uncontrolled episodes she was verbally aggressive towards those present, and could be could be violent and destructive towards objects nearby.
She was also a very selfish, manipulative and egotistical woman. Despite the efforts I made as an adult to talk to her about her behaviour, and the ways in which it has affected me, she always minimised it, never acknowledging, or apologising for, all the damage she caused.
Recently, I’ve been trying to forget the bad things she did, and to remember instead the good things about my childhood. However, the positives are so few, so undependable, and so short-lived, that I quickly gave up the effort, which felt artificial and unhelpful.
Well, none of us is perfect. We all have many faults, including me. Fortunately, I started working hard to forgive my mother several years ago, and have continued to pray for her, and try to forgive her, every day.
Some months ago, I spoke to her privately for the last time about her behaviour, its effects, and my forgiveness. However, by then, she was incapable of replying. I’m glad, though, that I was able to be completely honest with her, after a lifetime of anxiety, fear, dread, panic attacks, depression and physical illness caused by her abuse. May she rest in peace, at last.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).
Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34; NLT).
We have all sinned against you (Jeremiah 14:20; NLT).