You are currently viewing An unexpected and devastating loss!

An unexpected and devastating loss!

I write this post with a heavy heart and tears running down my face. If you recall, I recently requested your input about my mother’s upcoming 90th birthday. I had been conflicted about whether to celebrate her birthday party on the exact day, as I wanted, or on the week-end, as my sisters wanted. My sisters wanted to celebrate on the weekend because of work schedules. Since this was a major milestone, I felt it was important to honor her exact birthday, even if less convenient. I reached out to you and asked for your opinions.

In typical highly sensitive fashion, I received very thoughtful and helpful suggestions. I thank you all for them! I ended up talking to my mother to find out her preference. She told me that she wanted to have everyone together and didn’t care what day we celebrated her birthday.

my mother and aunt
My mother (top) and her sister, Vivian.

In order to keep the peace and to honor my personal feelings, I decided to take my mother and aunt out on her actual birthday. The plan was to have a nice lunch and celebrate with a mini birthday cake. On the week-end, we would then have a 90th birthday dinner with the whole family. I was comfortable with this compromise. As the time for the celebration came near, the plans were coming together, and everyone was going to be there. Just like my mother wanted!

HOWEVER, my mother passed away suddenly a week before her birthday. The family WAS all together, but unfortunately, it was at her funeral! It’s been about two weeks since her death. I can’t believe she’s gone! Everything still seems so unreal, and I keep expecting to wake up from this bad dream. I have so many different feelings washing over me simultaneously that my emotions are all over the place. My highly sensitive nervous system is definitely running on maximum overload right now!

It’s difficult to work through my grief and also process all of the many things that I will need to do to take care of her estate. It’s all so overwhelming! And then of course, I still have all the things I normally do, like working, doing chores around the house, and even writing these blog posts.

It may seem like writing a blog post wouldn’t be a priority right now, but writing is calming for me. It provides a much needed outlet at this difficult time. When we’re grieving, it’s important that we do what we can to take care of ourselves. I plan to write a bit more about what I’m going through and how I’m coping with this devastating loss in future blog posts. I’m interested in any thoughts or comments you have, especially on how to cope with such a major loss.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Abbe

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Cliff. And, I am so happy you got to spend some time with your mother on her birthday. That’s a gift! You were true to yourself, and did what you felt you needed to do, and I’m sure you made your mother very happy. I don’t have a lot of wisdom on this topic, as I have never hand any human close to me pass away. But it will be coming soon. I hope you are able to think of all the wonderful memories your family shared and celebrate the life your mother lived. Peace.

  2. Terri

    Hi Cliff,
    So sorry for your loss. My mom passed away 21 years ago. Wow! It doesn’t seem that long. Cry and and cry. Years are very healing. And write. It really does get easier to cope over time. Hugs

  3. HSPTweets

    My condolences, Cliff. My dad died at 90, a few days after his birthday. He was not in good health so it was not totally unexpected. Another member of our family has just died at 49 and it was totally unexpected, a severe shock. Yet another will probably soon die from terminal cancer.

    None of us knows how much time we may have in life, which underscores the preciousness and poignancy of the time we do have to love and appreciate one another. I’ve now experienced many deaths of loved ones and friends in my lifetime. The sorrow doesn’t get any easier to bear. But the greater awareness of the inevitability of death adds urgency to do today what we can to make this a better world, as there may be no tomorrow (for an other or even yourself).

    Live and love today as if there is no tomorrow (because there may not be).

    Peace and blessings.

  4. HSPTweets


    For everyone,

    Find one kind thing you can do and do it today.

  5. Maria Cross

    Heart felt condolences to you at this hard time. I lost my mother suddenly when she was 65, just two years ago. I don’t have too much to offer you except to acknowledge that it is tough. I found the first year the hardest and all the milestones missed by her along the way but I think that it also gave me increments of time to focus on the loss and feel it process it more. Be kind to yourself and others during this time. For me it highlighted the different ways we all grieve and that can add further burden to your heart. Just be with the grief when it shows up. I suspect your writing will certainly be a good process for you to use to help.

  6. Kristie

    Dearest Cliff, it brought tears to my eyes to read your post today. I’m so sorry for your loss! I know you were all looking forward to the celebration of your mom’s birthday. Death is hard to deal with but especially when it is sudden like this. My heart goes out to your family. Truly. You’ll be in my daily prayers as you process your grief. A saying came to mind that I try to remember as an excessive planner. “Life is what happens while you are busy making plans.” Sad but true at times. Again, my deepest sympathy.

    While I have not yet experienced the death of a parent I have recently lost a grandmother that I was very close to. With her it was different, she had expressed a desire to go along time before she left. When my grandfather passed she wished she could go too but she stayed with us for 18 more years. Dementia set in and we had to watch her slip away. While I was saddened by her passing I also felt relief for her sake that she no longer had to suffer. The hardest part was that her children did not wish to have a funeral. In order to complete my grieving process I went to visit her grave with flowers.

  7. HB

    Dear Cliff,
    I’m sorry for your loss. You can at least be glad that your mother was looking forward to the celebrations you had planned, and there was no conflict in the family when she died.

    It will take time to work through the stages of grief. But remember that we DO get through it. The pain you feel now will ease over time. Allowing yourself space and time to grieve and being kind to yourself and the to others will help.

    You may even feel slightly healed by going through the work of dealing with your mother’s estate. She trusted you to do this work, and it’s your last obligation to her. Maybe you can view it that way and do it as an act of love for her.

    Please let us know how you’re going, we’re here for you.

  8. Myrna

    Dear Cliff, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I know how much it meant to you to plan just the right thing for her birthday and you really did make the right choices to do what you felt was right and to also bring the family together. There is no easy way to get over the loss of a parent. My dad passed away 40 years ago, and I still miss him. Everyone has to grieve in their own way, so it’s hard to tell anyone how to do this. I learned that life is never quite the same again. I hope it helps you to know that others care.

  9. Peter M.

    My deepest condolences, Cliff– my thoughts and prayers to you and your family. I lost my mom (88) and stepdad (93) in the past three years… I have no advice other than to share the reminder that “processing grief” does not come with a schedule. There will be those who tell you it’s “time to get over it.” They are not being mean… they are just on THEIR schedule, not on yours. Take however long you need…

    1. Cliff Harwin

      Thank you Peter. Processing grief doesn’t come with a schedule! I’m having a difficult time with it. I get impatient with myself, but I do need to just go with it at my own pace. Isn’t that what we HSPs always need to do in all situations? LOL

  10. Sid

    I echo everyone else’s responses here. Sorry for your loss. 90 is a pretty long life. The unexpected loss hurts and is shocking I am sure. I think if a loved one lives to be 130yrs old, the loss still hurts. All we can do is let our emotions flow and keep on living, one day at a time. The end of life is as natural as birth. With every ending is a new beginning. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  11. Tracy

    Cliff, my most sincere condolences. Yes, this is so hard. My dad died 2 years ago, just a few days after his 93rd birthday. I STILL have trouble believing he’s gone. I still feel intense loss and sadness when I think of him, no longer here. I do get comfort when I think of how blessed I was for the many years we did get to spend with him, and remembering the happy times, his good qualities, the love that he was.

  12. Andy

    Wow Cliff. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss – gave me a heavy heart just reading your story. Can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you. Thank you for your openness in sharing this. I hope the grieving and healing happens in a positive way for you and all the family.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.