This time last year I was by mum’s side saying my goodbyes. Since then, instead of mourning her loss, I have been preoccupied with another threat to my world and wellbeing. While I was away from home caring for mum, cracks erupted in my previously strong and successful marriage. I desperately hoped we could fix things when I got back home, and over the last 18 months we have tried.

Nevertheless, last month my twenty-year relationship came to an end. As I try to come to terms with the breakdown of my marriage, I find I can now grieve for my mother too. I have finally started planning the interment of her ashes.

While I’m glad she’s not here to lament the loss of the man she regarded as her son and a saint, she would have been a huge source of love and support for me. She once said of Jack, that he is more like a Christian than people like her who call themselves Christians. In fact, my mother was the most genuinely good, honest and caring person I’ve ever known.

So, at the end of 2020, after two extraordinarily difficult years I now face the loss of the two most important people in my life. It’s an incredibly painful time, and it will take a while to recover. But there is a silver lining…

I have been enjoying deeper and more authentic relationships with new and old friends, and I am giving myself more time for nurturing and self-care. Over the last few weeks, I have developed and started implementing a recovery plan. I’m approaching this with the same vigour and determination that I used to support mum. I’m allowing space for sorrow, and to acknowledge the pain of losing so much goodness and certainty. And I’m learning the importance of being with painful emotions rather than fleeing from, fighting or numbing them. I’m listening to useful talks and engaging in helpful mindfulness practices. I believe all of this will make me into a better mindfulness teacher (and perhaps a better person!).

So, given how much I have lost, do I have any regrets? I wrestled with the decision to support mum to live back in her own home. She was so miserable in the care home I didn’t feel I had any choice. Though, I was clear with Jack that if I had to choose between him and mum, I would choose him. That if it put a strain on our marriage, I would come home. I am grateful he didn’t make me choose. I can honestly say that even though I have lost my best friend and confidante, who I loved and trusted more than anybody, I have no regrets about the decision I made.

And through the huge waves of grief and sadness, I can see how lucky I am. I realise not everybody gets to have such a good person for their mother. And in moments of strength, I’m grateful for the twenty years of love and companionship with Jack. I am conscious that the love I have had from both these two incredible beings, is more than most people get in a lifetime.

8 thoughts on “Marriage breakdown: A casualty of caring?

  1. Having also lost a mother to dementia and been through a divorce, though thankfully not both in such a short time frame, you have my utmost sympathy. I wish you peace of mind and joy in your new freedom whether it was chosen by you or not.

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  2. Hi Julia, it’s with sadness that I read this post. I know how much you gave in willingly caring for your mum & to have this happen now, when you’re remembering the loss of your mother is heartbreakingly tough. But your words are inspiring to read, you speak of nurture, self care, kindness & being thankful for the love you shared. Thank you for sharing such a difficult time, it isn’t often that light is shone on marriage breakdown from caring & I know by doing so it will help others. I wish you the best as you positively make your way through this time, & know whatever the world holds for you that it will be reflection of your warm & kind character.

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    1. Thank you so much for your moving and caring words of support. Your kind message is especially meaningful, as I as I know you are going through such trying times yourself. Wishing you a wonderful 2021 and sending lots of love xxx.

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  3. Dear Julia, I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your marriage and companion. You speak with such compassion and I wish you well and hope that 2021 brings you much joy.
    I haven’t seen my mum for many months. Every time I’ve organised a visit it’s been cancelled, its dreadful. It’s been a tough year hasn’t it.
    Take care of yourself and sending love your way. xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally. Yes, it’s been a tough year all round. I hope 2021 is a better year for all of us. I’m so sorry to hear you haven’t been able to see your mum for so long, and now with the extra restrictions extending to March must feel like torture. Not being able to see my mum would have been more than she or I could bear. I am grateful she didn’t have to go through this. I hope there are other ways the home facilitates contact between the two of you. Are you able to send her some of your amazing creations? Or could you make something specifically for her? Sending you lots of love and hope for a better future. Julia xxx

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