How to heal a relationship when the person has died?

My mother died 2 years ago. Our relationship was up and down, on and off again, like a giant roller coaster, for most of my adult life….this was also the experience for my brother and sisters (I’m the youngest of six). Even with this, I would generally characterize my childhood as a positive one and I do know that my mother and Dad (my father passed away 16 years ago) loved me very much. In the grand scheme of things I really have nothing to complain about.

The biggest bone of contention and disappointment that I know my mother had with me was when she wanted to control me (and couldn’t) … in who I had and did not have relationships with. She did this with my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and most often, if I had relationships with my brother/sisters (they are half siblings, different fathers, so the dynamic of a blended family is in play). For example, if one of my sisters would do something that my mom perceived as disrespectful, insensitive or she was just mad at them … I (being the youngest AND different since I had a different father and grew up under a different circumstance) had to feel the exact same way as my mom did. This was easy when I was young, but as I grew up I always saw both sides of the story. If I didn’t ‘stick’ up for my mom and ‘disown’ them too … that meant that I didn’t love, didn’t believe her or respect her. I lived under the threat of being disowned at a drop of the hat. Over the years, I slowly disengaged with her … wasn’t really close in a mom/daughter kind of way (although we spoke and visited often and had fun) … I would avoid any contentious subject that would bring up the past or anything that we may disagree on. My step-father who in the most insensitive hurtful way told me the day after my mom died that the biggest disappointment my mom had in me was never believing my mom or ‘taking’ her side or a fight she had with one of my sisters years ago. That cut me to the core.

Through this program I have learned so many things that I wish I knew when my mom was alive. I think I could have dealt with it all so much better AND even perhaps healed our relationship completely before she died. I’m filled with sadness and guilt because I never got the chance … to dare I say (and I know what you’ll say) ‘heal’ her … help her out of her own trauma …long story short, I could have shared with her the lessons I’m learning now and I think it could have helped her. She died not speaking to one of my sisters for over a year, so I know peace was not in her heart. I feel so sad when I think about the missed opportunity with my mom.