Bereavement vs Divorce

They often say divorce is a form of death and the same grieving process applies.  This is true in my opinion only to a certain extent.  Although I am sad Mama is no longer with us in the physical form she had reached the grand old age of 84 and had lived a mostly happy life and she had reached her journey’s end.  She died of natural causes which is the best way to go.  I will miss her but she lives on in my heart and I hold onto the happy memories of a strong loving mother who did her best for us under very trying circumstances.  She really was the mother hen protecting her chicks.  I feel her presence and that comforts me.  I am not a Christian anymore so I don’t look forward to the day we will be reunited in Heaven.  In fact I don’t believe in an afterlife or re-incarnation.  To me this is it, so we have to make the best of it and whether you are happy or miserable the sun still rises and sets regardless.

For me it is easier and quicker to find closure with the loss of a loved one than separation and divorce.  Why?  I know that Mama loved me and I love her.  Unlike divorce there is no need to rewrite history and torment oneself with the doubts and what ifs and the very real pain of rejection.  What is wrong with me?  Why doesn’t he love me anymore?  You wonder if your marriage was as happy as you thought or whether you’d been kidding yourself and living a fantasy.  You wonder if he loved you at all and for how many years he had started wanting to rid you out of his life?  You wonder if the marriage would have ended a lot sooner if there was no kid?

And the uncertainty that divorce inflicts on you in every aspect of your life: financial, emotional and mental.  In my case it really impacted on my standard of living and financial security.  I moved from a cosy three bed detached house with a mortgage to one room in a new city having to share the kitchen and bathroom with strangers who kept changing every few months.  I lost most of my possessions as I couldn’t afford to pay for storage.  I lived on very little as I had just the previous year suffered a recurrence and wasn’t working and my separated spouse didn’t help me.  I was too depressed and in shock to fight my corner reeling from the sudden trauma, one minute I was married and the next not.  Above all the feeling of helplessness that the world as you knew it and your role in it has been destroyed in one fell blow and you have no say whatsoever.  Someone you loved and trusted all those years decreed so no discussion nor explanation required.  He needs his space, don’t talk to him, he is going to move into the spare room, we can be housemates and take care of our daughter as we have both been good parents.  Our relationship was compared to a balance sheet, he was getting far less from it than what he reckoned he was putting in so that’s why he is pulling the plug.  Lovely.

With Mama I feel pure love and a sense of loss but death comes to all of us and at least her life was not cut short by tragedy.  She had children, grandchildren and lived to see her great-grandchildren, so she was blessed.  And in the hospital her family came and she felt loved and respected and she did not die alone.

With the divorce I feel an array of mixed emotions: sadness, loss, anger, hate, regret, betrayal and a feeling of helplessness and abandonment.  I felt like I was trash chucked out redundant irrelevant useless.  My love was trampled on as my heart broke as if it was worthless as was I.  Recently I stumbled across a volume of love poems he had self published on Amazon dedicated to his new love where he wrote an introduction claiming she was his soul mate and true love.  It hurt me deeply.  Not only did he never write me any love poems never mind publish them for all the world to see but what was I for 18 years, just a free domestic, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, shopping, childcare and bringing the bacon home too.  Above all I feel used and he took and took but didn’t give much, being emotionally very distant and unavailable.  I never felt that with Mama, she gave and gave and I took and took and I feel some guilt but isn’t that what mothers do, I know I am a mother too.

I never hated Mama, I was often angry that my sister was the favourite daughter by a long chalk and jealous of their bond but I always loved her deep down and I didn’t realise how very much until I lost her.

I often thought it would have been easier for me if my ex had died because then I could have held onto the illusion delusion he still loved me and hang onto all the happy memories instead of having them tainted by all the cruel hurtful words and accusations at the end.

Forgive me I am only speaking for myself in comparing the loss of Mama to my divorce and in no way belittling the pain and grief of bereavement.  I am sure if the loss was sudden or the result of a terminal illness or medical negligence or a violent crime or accident or natural disasters or suicide then closure is much more difficult and of course if the person’s life was cut short.  And certainly if you lose a partner it may impact on your financial situation and maybe you’ll have to move somewhere else and begin again.

To me it is all about loss but just a different kind.  The divorce inflicted pain which I thought was unneccessary and brutal and destroyed the one thing I valued above all, my family and marriage.

With Mama I feel a strange kind of peace and love.  It is not damaging and soul destroying; on the contrary it is affirming.  I don’t feel rejected, abandoned or useless.  I was there when she needed me the most, the last two weeks of her life and though we didn’t have heart to hearts, she knew I was there and we made up and I no longer felt unloved or a disappointment for not being a boy.  That has been a millstone round my neck for as long as I can remember and the subject of many counselling sessions.  When my ex dumped me that sense of not being good enough was reaffirmed and with Mama’s passing I realised what he thinks doesn’t matter an iota.  The woman who gave birth to me loved and protected me all my life albeit from a distance when I was angry and resentful and no man’s love comes close.

So strangely I have reached a place of calm and resolution and that is Mama’s final gift to me.


About cho wan yau

Teacher by day poet/writer by night. Words have been my first love and will be my last. As a child I locked myself into the toilet devouring books which transported me to distant lands. Poetry shared penned from 2009-2010 in a titanic struggle to stay sane at Heartbreak Hotel. Please check it out on Any comments or feedback welcome. Why not share your story with me, because we all have one, don't we?

Posted on November 13, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Your love for your Mama is deep and pure with honesty. Your words are powerful. Your comparison and contrast of loss and love is so genuine. So touching. Thank you for sharing.

  2. You are most welcome I just write what is in my heart

  3. A lot of this reflects just what I feel. Almost simultaneously I had to face pulling myself away from my significant other of 12 years, and then my Grandmother passing away – she who was the GLUE that held my enormous family together. We took the blow as a collective and banded together and are now moving on from that particular grief but… here I am, still wishing I could get over the other problem just as easily.
    I used to write the same thing all the time, Mama G, that maybe it would be better if he had just died and I’d be FORCED to forget about him and move on. People say to just try and use that as a guideline, almost pretend like he has indeed passed away and try to get over it. But we know it’s never the same. No. Not when we know they are still out there and we’re wondering what we could have done to perhaps make things work.

    I must say that having experienced both sides of the spectrum, I’m finding it so much more difficult to be the one having to distance myself and perhaps end things (for my own good and his). Before, when i was being dumped and abandoned left right and center, the one plus about that was I could tell myself, “It wasn’t my doing; I have no control over it” and it was easier to move on.
    I am in no way trying to belittle your pain or hardship over the years; just saying that I was once there (actually four times there) but now would almost have preferred it to have gone the same way because I feel I would have accepted things better.

    When it has to be ME doing it, you can bet I try to find every single tiny reason to stay and hang on, even though it was plain to pretty much everyone that neither of us were happy.

    Anyway, just wanted to comment and say that I hope you’re doing alright; take care of your ankle and continue to update us. ❤

    • Thanks for the long comment Jade. I actually think that it is easier to be the one to pull the plug as at least you are in control and it is your decision. But that is just me.

      • On paper it DEFINITELY sounds easier. Let me tell you, when you forgive too easily and are way too nice… it’s the hardest thing in the world to do…
        Guilt is the most destructive of emotions apparently, and literally everything makes me feel guilty.
        I’m like a female Charlie Brown 😦

      • Why feel guilty Jade you have a responsibility to yourself to look after your own well being. They are responsible for their own happiness not you. Maybe you shouldn’t be too nice; you’ll only be taken for granted and start feeling resentful and that is no good for the soul.

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