Toxic Mom Toolkit on Grief: A Passage or a Prison?

10 Feb

A dear church friend of mine died this past weekend and I’m grieving. She was a Sunday school teacher for many years. She loved to sing and taught so many children their hymns. All the children, teens, even the kids away at college, were devastated by the news of her passing. I find my eyes filling up with tears while I’m driving. I have to grab a tissue 20 times a day. For the past few days, any thought of my church family carries a sad weight. And yet, I know that in a few weeks or months, I will reflect on her life and think only good thoughts. Her memory will very likely inspire me to do more for our church and I’m sure there will be many times that I quietly, anonymously do things at church in her memory. Grief is a sad dark tunnel, but eventually you walk out into the sunshine again.

As children, our goldfish introduce us to grief. A few hours or days of remembering our pet naturally morphs into appreciation for all animals and our role in caring for them. If we forgot to feed our fish, we may suffer longer. But if a good old fish turned up floating, it was simply sad. We get through it.

And then our hearts are broken in puppy love, re-introducing grief. Perhaps one of our grandparents passes. Then a beloved teacher is suddenly swept away and our families and friends talk about loss and grief and introduce the idea of respecting each person’s unique life and our personal timetables for grief.

In adulthood, the loss of a child or a spouse or sibling is a great grief and the sympathy we receive never seems to outlast our grief. But there is an understanding that even in the worst grief, there is a turning point. Even a widow is allowed her long grieving and then we are happy for her should she remarry and rebuild a happy life.

And yet, for the adult children of toxic mothers, the grief over existing with an unloving mother is indefinite. As long as your toxic mother is living, you can feel that you are in a state of perpetual grief. When she is cruel to you, you may experience periods of deep, low-functioning grief. Or your mother grief may feel more like a low-grade flu that never ends. Grief often includes a feeling that you need to stop in your tracks; that you shouldn’t make plans; shouldn’t plan fun things. It can become a foundational feeling of great sadness that keeps you from feeling you deserve happy plans, fun trips or get-togethers with friends.

That’s why it’s important to ask yourself: When do I decide to trade in grief — over my childhood, over the stress of my current relationship with my mother, over the pervasive feeling of being cheated of a mother’s love — for hope? When do I leave my sad, dark mindset and walk into the sunshine of living my life?

If a Sunday School student had come to my late friend and expressed deep grief, she may have pointed to Matthew 5:4, Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Are you ready to consider comforting yourself regarding your toxic mom? Is your grief about your toxic mom a passage or a prison? Could you imagine the luxury of giving up your toxic mom grief?


9 Responses to “Toxic Mom Toolkit on Grief: A Passage or a Prison?”

  1. Dawn February 10, 2017 at 5:40 am #

    Thankful, I have siblings to help me process the grief of our TM. Even though we have worked through most of the pain, anger/grief raises it’s ugly head and we need to process so more.

    • collectingjourneys March 17, 2017 at 11:16 am #

      You’re right! It’s so valuable to turn to someone who was there and ask, Did I remember this right?

  2. Amanda February 10, 2017 at 10:41 am #

    “The sympathy never seems to outlast the grief”. Isn’t that the truth! I have been blessed to not have lost any of my immediate family. My very close uncle. My ex husband. That carried so much guilt, I said regular mean things an ex wife says… but with a toxic mom? I am just now realizing that when I keep looking closer, I find wounds on me I didn’t know I had. And wounds don’t heal when they are still being picked and jabbed at.
    So I’m giving myself permission to go NC. And I was very much against NC a while back!! I’m a Christian, a Jesus follower, and so I did not take this lightly. But like Rayne says, I can be NC for now and if in the future I need to break it that’s ok. For now my wounds need to heal so I need to get away from the jabbing and poking! So this can be a phase, not a permanent place. Thanks rayne !!

    • collectingjourneys March 17, 2017 at 11:17 am #

      Whatever works for you, is what works!

  3. Natalie February 10, 2017 at 11:22 am #

    Thank you for this post. I have recently gone no contact and at first found the grief hard to deal with but allowed myself time. I found that by saying that I could take as much time as I need, I have needed less than I thought I would. I started the journey finding lots of support on Facebook groups and with friends, within a couple of months I have unfollowed the groups (except for your page😆) as I started finding they were pulling me backwards.
    I have been asking myself the very questions you posed here, so thank you.

    • collectingjourneys February 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

      Hi Natalie! I love your comment. I’m curious – why do you think other groups fell away, but Toxic Mom Toolkit had value for you?

      Best, Rayne

  4. Amy February 12, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    Thank you for this article… my eyes still have tears in them as I started reading this. I learned last year that my mother was toxic and it’s sad to say I didn’t figure it out until I was 35! This has been the worst year of my life with some major confrontations with my mother (and my dad who just backs whatever she says or feels)… my husband (whom my mom dislikes) and I moved away to another state 1 year ago this month because we not only felt God calling us to but for our family’s health we had to get away from my mom. She latched onto our first born daughter and has this idea that she should be daily involved in her grandchildrens lives yet she obviously favors the oldest and I see it becoming a problem in the future for our 2 daughters so I’ve had to decide today that ties must be severed more than before… I was made to feel terrible for buying a black set of sheets for our daughters bed because I was going to depress her with those dark colors! I didn’t have much money and was redecorating in ladybugs so the black sheets were brand new at a thrift and looked really good with her red, green and black ladybug bedding set! Its just what made me feel like such a failure of a mom that I’m done… again! I keep getting sucked back into talking to her again or doing things because she will straighten up and be nice and respect boundaries when she has gone too far but then it’s a vicious cycle… how do I get free?!?! The saddest part is that we are both strong Christians and I just keep wondering why this is happening between believers! Thanks for your advice!

    • collectingjourneys February 13, 2017 at 4:27 am #

      I wonder if my book, Toxic Mom Toolkit, might not be helpful to you? You can find it on Amazon or ask your local library to add it to the collection. Best, Rayne

    • Amanda February 13, 2017 at 5:18 am #

      Oohh amy, you and I have similar stories from what you’ve said. I discovered about 33 my mom was/is toxic. She also tried to parent my children, and very obviously made my oldest her golden grandchild, and my second born her scape goat. The other 2 she hasn’t determined yet; and she won’t get to. I’m staying no contact this time. I also moved out of state and I am SO HAPPY to have that opportunity!! I don’t think I could manage no contact living in her town, or also my healing. I am also a believer and God has given me permission to go no contact; until a further time if my parents heath fails, I’ll consider how to honor them from a distance.
      It’s sad, but we can’t heal with them around. And we are stewards of our own families. We have an obligation to the Lord to take care of our families and we can’t do that with a demanding narc grandparent around. Hugs to you and your kids!!! We’re doing the right thing and on the right path. Some people don’t figure this stuff out for another 20 years.
      Watch some you tube videos on narcissism and what WOULD happen if we let the narc around our children. She will turn them against us and each other if we let them. I never want to see my children go through sibling disconnect like I have. I also need to update my will, and name my in laws as beneficiary and such… anyways hugs and God bless.

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