Menopause Life’s Cycle and Loss

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On July 6th, I received that dreaded phone call.  My beloved Mom passed away in Tucson, Arizona.

Mom started having trouble breathing earlier in the day, and then at approximately 2 in the afternoon, just stopped breathing as she sat in her TV chair.  She had what one would call a blessed passing.  She did not suffer, it was peaceful.

Although she was 95 years young, I was not ready.

As it was with menopause and that stage of life’s journey, no one really prepared me for death and dying.  Frankly those words were not spoken in our household.  My parents had lost their first born, my brother Gary, at the tender age of 4.  He choked to death on a piece of bread.  Tragically, no one knew the Heimlich maneuver in those days. As a parent, frankly, I do not know how they survived that horrific day. My sister was 2.  I was born approx. 9 months later. Then 8 years later my brother was born.

There was a beautifully framed picture of a little boy on my Mom’s dresser. It never moved and no words were ever spoken of it. I knew it was something very fragile – never to be touched. It took me years before I got the courage to ask my maternal Grandma who was that boy in the picture.  It was Gary.

In my teens, I first experienced loss when my maternal Grandpa died.  I was scared at the funeral, and had no idea what to expect.  I accidentally looked at the open coffin.  That’s something I will never do again.  It took me years to erase the picture of dead Grandpa from my memories.

I adored my father, but sadly he battled terrible heart disease and he passed away at the young age of 58. My Mom’s love for him was unmatched, beautiful and beyond most couples’ wildest expectations. David and I had just had our daughter, Sarah.  She was 3 months old, and was born on my parent’s last anniversary together.  I was 27, devastated, and not prepared to lose my father.

My husband was loving, patient and a rock for me during those dark days.  However, I think having my new little baby girl to take care of is what got me out of bed in the morning. Holding her, that baby smell, her giggles, and need for love and mothering surrounded me with the joys of life. Some days I would nurse her with tears running down my face, but her little face, tiny fingers, and helplessness would bring me back to life again.

When our son was born two years later, I named him Jack after my beloved father.  A few months later, my Grandma passed away. My Grandma was my confident and definitely my biggest fan. Having my new beautiful son in my arms and a two year old toddler running around the house got me through the grief of losing my sweet Grandma.

My beloved Mother lived a sharing, caring and charitable life with effortless grace and tremendous modesty.  Although she was petite, refined, and delicate – she was strong and wise. She adored her parents and her brother, Jack, who is 90 and lives in Flint, Michigan. Mom’s entire being was devoted to her family. Every breath she took was dedicated to all of us.

Sarah is the mother of our first grandchild, Aviva. In March of this year, on Mom’s 95th birthday, she was able to meet Sarah and Sol’s new bundle, Aviva. Aviva just sat on the arm of Mom’s chair with her little hand on Mom’s shoulder – they were both completely smitten with each other.

At her burial, as I watched my Mother’s grave be covered in dirt, I started having trouble breathing. My son-in-law, Sol, gave me Aviva to hold and immediately I calmed down.  It was as if he gave me a tranquilizer.  As Aviva squirmed in my arms all giggles and smiles, I was once again comforted by the circle of life…a baby – a new life – love, hope, and joy. I feel blessed to have Sol as a member of our family.

Lucky for me, in June I read the fabulous free eBook, Love on the Other Side by Arielle Ford. This is a must read! Thanks to this beautiful book, I know that my Mom and Dad are in each other’s arms again. This brings me great comfort.

Towards the end of my Mom’s life our daily phone calls were brief – her short term memory was gone, but she was still aware and alert…. I always ended with, “I love you, Mommy.” She replied, “I love you too, Ellen Gail.”

I had no idea July 5th would be the last time I would hear her voice. I am going to miss our daily phone calls so much. I know that in time, I will stop reaching for the phone to call her.  I will forever look at the world partly through her eyes and hear her words of wisdom and guidance.

My husband is circling me with love and encouragement to grieve …to just be.  I am so fortunate I can speak openly and honestly with my children, Sarah (35 years old) and Jack (33 years old), about life and death as I cherish their love, support, and wise words of wisdom.

This is hard for me….I am not used to feeling so sad, so numb, so detached.

My favorite scholar, Pooh Bear once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Yes, Pooh’s right.  This is very hard.

However, once again I am reminded about the circle of life.  Sarah, Sol and Aviva moved back to San Diego mid July. Lucky me! On August 8th Aviva was 1.

It seems so fitting that when the grief comes and the tears flow, it is my sweet little granddaughter, Aviva who helps me feel joy, giggles, and happiness again. She reaches out her hands for me to hold her, but in truth it is she who is holding me as life circles on………….

 

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • I know it is tough…sorry for your loss, Ellen and this was beautifully written.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thank you for your condolences, Pam. The sisterhood is so loving and comforting. It is so helpful to feel the love and support around you when you are grieving.

  • Ah, Ellen. What a lovely testimony to the love in your family. I’ll miss seeing the photos of you with your mom. No doubt, she gave you a good chunk of your spunk! Oh and do I see some of that spunk in that darling baby? Bet so!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Yes, Barbara, my Mom was spunky! I do see a sparkle in Aviva’s eyes! It is so cute!

  • Ellen, while the blog at first glance appears bleak I enjoyed the read and the memories it conjured up in my life as I followed along with yours. Death as we’ve known it can drain us. However, it’s our connection (whether through a newborn child or the knowing that life continues beyond the grave) helps to enliven, inspire and uplift us all. Thanks for sharing and may the memories of your mom be those that bring future sunshine to your heart.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      You are right, Maura, it can be draining…………..I know that each day will get easier and my tears will lesson as the days roll by. I have many precious memories to fill my heart.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. What a heartfelt post. Made me cry. Sending virtual hugs!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      I felt your sweet hug, Haralee! Thank you :>)

  • I physically picked up the phone to talk to my mom every day for a long time — at least 6 months. I still miss sharing the every day stuff with her. It is all about finding a way to share those little joyful moment and giving yourself permission to feel it all. And so it goes my friend — that big circle of love and light.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      It really helps to speak about loss and how it affects us…then we don’t feel so alone. Thanks for sharing this, Ruth.

  • I lost my dad when he was 59. My mother passed 2 years ago. You know what? Life can be very hard.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Tam, I am sending big hugs your way. I wish we talked more about death and dying in this country. After all, we are all dying from the moment we are born. I plan on speaking more about this in the days ahead.

  • Jeanet

    My heartfelt condolences with your loss.
    Lost my mum almost 17 years ago. My father is 85 and becomming frail. All relatives already died and with being single since 2.5 years I’m looking towards the strange situation of becomming an orphan in my fifties.
    With this future ahead of me I’m trying to prepare myself for what will happen although I know true mourning is nescesarry and will need the appropiate amount of time. I read a lot about this particular subject because I feel the need to inform myself, being active about it.
    At this moment I take my dad and we visit certain places where we had good memories together. Or, we just enjoy ourselves being there. I call these trips “our Long-Goodbye Journeys”. I’m gratefull I have this possibility. It will make things easier once the inevitable happens.
    Thank you for pointing out that e-book. I’ll be downloading it.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Jeanet, I love that you are re-visiting good memories with your Dad. That is so sweet. He is very lucky to have such a loving daughter. I used to fly in to see my Mom every month. Each trip I tried taking her to her favorite places to eat and we would watch her fav TV shows together. I am so glad that we had that special time together. Def download the eBook. It was so beautiful!

  • Gina

    I am so sorry for your huge loss. My Mom was 69 years old and also passed away on July 6 two years ago. We also had our daily phone calls each day sometimes several a day. She used to always say. Have I told you today that I Love you. I actually took the loss of my Mom way better than I thought I would have. I know she is in a wonderful place. That she was ready to go when the good Lord wanted her. To know someone is at peace makes a world of difference. She got to see my daughter Graduate from College with honors, and got a wonderful job. She got to see my son get married. They were expecting her first Great Grandchild that November. They also bought a home. She knew I was doing well with my husband. At that time we were married 28 years. She felt good with how things were going. Its us left behind at times have the hardest time to let go. But, for some reason I did well. I think just knowing she got to see some major things happen in her family and she knew everyone was headed in the right direction. And that she was ready to go when her time came, is what helped me.. I do miss her, Have I told you lately that I love you, Mom!!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      How beautiful, Gina. Sounds like you and your Mom had quite the special relationship. Lucky you! She sure was able to see lots of beautiful life in her 69 years. Can’t believe our Mom’s passed away on the same day – just different years. Sounds like your Mom left quite the legacy in your beautiful family.

  • Janet

    I am so sorry. I can only imagine how much this hurts. Be strong!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Janet, thank you for your sweet words of encouragement.

  • A beautiful tribute to all of your wonderful family members, both here, and on the other side. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thank you for your sweet words, Kimba.

  • I’m so sorry, Ellen. It is never easy to lose your mom. May you be comforted by your memory of her love for you and your family. You have my sincere condolences.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Halona, thank you for your kind, comforting condolences. I appreciate your sweet thoughtfulness.

  • My heart goes out to you in your loss … blessings to you and yours, dear Ellen. Blessings.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thank you, Carol. I know in time, my heartache will heal and I will just be full of the sweet memories of better days.

  • Jesus Ellen. Sweet baby Jesus. I know your pain. We really don’t prepare for lose anymore. But would we have rather lived in a time when Life was short for so many? Or painful? And, as for late 20th century developments – I hate open coffins. It’s best to remember them in our own way. You are an amazing force of reason and empathy. My heart goes out to you- but I’m crying for you a little on the inside. Sweet tears and a hug from me.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      I shall always remember my Mom “dressed to the nines”, greeting her friends as they come to her yearly New Year’s party. I do feel your hug. Thank you dear, sweet Cheryl.

  • Linda

    Oh Ellen, I’m so sorry for your loss. Everything you wrote about your mom and the tender picture of you all sitting around her is beautiful. We share a great blessing in that our parents Love was awesome! Our husbands are supportive! And the Love that was shared between mother and daughter was golden:) it’s our turn now, to be the matriarchs of the family. I’m sure you will agree, our beloved mothers made it look so easy! All we can do Ellen is pass on the best of our parents and ourselves to our grandchildren. The loss is great and takes time. Allow yourself that time my sister. I will be praying for God to give you His endless strength. Sending you big hugs!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Linda, your word in themselves are very healing. Thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful support and comfort.

  • Debbie

    Hi Ellen
    You write with such love and sincerity – how I would like to meet you!!
    I’m sorry for your loss you had such love and still do the two of you I’m sending happiness to you.
    Debbie

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thank you Debbie for your comforting words………….I sure wish I could meet you for lunch or a cocktail, too.

  • Ronna Cohen Golper

    Ellen, I was sad to hear of your mother’s passing. I know you will find comfort in all your wonderful memories. What a beautiful tribute to your mom. Actually brought back memories of years long ago… my thoughts and prayers are with you. By the way, absolutely adorable granddaughter. Enjoy her! …Ronna

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thank you for your sweet comforting words, Ronna.

  • cshoulders62@gmail.com

    Ellen , I just joined your email, and I have tears running down my face . I am 53 and i lost my mom 25 years ago yesterday . But we are close to welcoming our first grand baby . I raised 2 sons and now I am getting a girl. Lyric Rose. So thankful for your sweet words . And so sorry for your loss.

    • Wait until you hold that sweet little girl. It melts your heart and all the sadness. I am so happy for you. Your Mom will be looking down – smiling upon our family.