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Switch to Forum Live View One month anniversary of my mom's death
7 years ago  ::  Oct 21, 2010 - 1:14PM #1
colin99
Posts: 2

This is my first post here so I'm never quite sure what to say.I guess a few details about myself would help.


I've been a caregiver for my mom (and earlier my father) for the past 18 years. She lost her sight in 1992 and then both she and my dad had a series of health problems over the years culminating in my having to put him into a nursing home in 2000 and he passed away in 2001.


My mom lived with me in my condo and I was primary caregiver for her while working fulltime (with later assistance from my brother). There had been lists of health problems over the years but things were relatively stable for the past few years. A month ago, she suddenly became sick and had to be taken to the hospital. Once there we found out that she had an internal infection and had had a major heart attack at home. A few days later she passed away.


The last month has just been so strange - for so long she was the major focal point in my life and I built my work and personal schedules around her appointments and personal needs. It's such an incredible hole now and unfortunately other than my brother, I have no other relatives here in Toronto. I'm lucky in that I do have some good friends, but I don't want to burden them with my grief too much.


With my Dad, the grieving process was so bad I basically went into a shell for months and buried myself in work. I don't want to go down that road again - I lost contact with a lot of people in those days since I didn't want to talk to anyone.


It's such a weird feeling - I'm only 42 years old but my entire life has revolved around my parent's health issues that I'm not sure how I move forward now. I haven't taken much time off work and I think I regret that now since I'm really not in the mood to deal with work issues. Some time just spent in meditation with no outside distractions may have helped.


I'm not quite sure what question I'm asking here - maybe just unburdening a bit. Thanks for listening.


Colin

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7 years ago  ::  Oct 23, 2010 - 11:44PM #2
karbie
Posts: 3,329

Dear Colin,


First let me praise you for the love and care you gave your parents at the end of their lives. My mother did that for her parents; but the 20 years after Grandpa died her life was so entwined with taking care of Grandma that she basically had no life of her own. Fortunately Grandma was mobile and her mind was sharp; she was still living at home when she turned 100 and only spent the last 200 days in a nursing home. The thing that literally saved my mother's sanity was when my cousin't wife took over being there at least 5 days a week. It was good for them financially and I don't think his wife had ever had so much love come her way than Grandma gave her.


You have one thing that not many people can say when someone dies--you don't have to regret not being there for them. It all got to Mother, but she wanted to not have to look back with regret or shame for not having been there when they needed her. I've watched Grandma weigh her own need to be with Mother with how tired and tense Mother was. so having a family member step up to the plate was ideal. My uncle lives in another town and was still working full time.


When I was growing up, "just us girls' meant Grandma, Mother, my older sister and me. the very day she died we'd brought lunch but she just couldn't seem to surface. I had gone over to hold her hand, andfound she was able to squeeze our hands in response. It gave us all one last chance to tell her how much we loved her and how much she'd meant to us all of our lives. When Mother talked to her, Grandma cried. She was gone an hour later.


One of the staff members had come in early to see Grandma to say goodbye and to warn us that she was in the process of dying and it would go very quickly from then on.One day she was in so much pain she was worried the reason that she'd lived so long was because she wasn't good enough to make it into Heaven. (Mother and I looked at each other with the same thought--if Grandma couldn't get in, we were in trouble.) Mother told her that if Grandma couldn't get in, she'd find her when she died herself and they'd be together. It was a big comfort; the next night Grandma dreamed that she was at a wonderful party with all the friends and family she'd missed for so long. After awhile it dawned on her how enormous the room was and that colors were more magnificent than she'd ever seen. She realized that the only place this beautiful had to be Heaven. She wasn't particularly thrilled to wake back up in her worn out body. When she was dying a few days later, we told her we'd each take care of each other and it was okay to let go and go back to her party.


If you are beating yourself up about the heart attack, please don't. Many people have what are known as silent heart attacks--when they were getting ready to do a coronary triple bypass, they found that at one time she'd had a heart attack that didn't get noticed. In hind sight I know when it was--Grandpa went straight from the family gathering on Christmas Eve to the ICU for his heart. They had rented a condo in Florida and he really needed to be out of Indiana winters. He wanted to have his own car but driving it down was now out of the question.This will tell you how long ago it was--Grandma asked if we'd drive the car down for them. They'd fly down, and then we'd use their return tickets to go home. My husband was laid off and when Grandma begged him she was crying. Grandpa was slumped in his chair. As soon as we said yes he was laying things out on the spare bed he wanted to take and whistling. I can look back and see how gray she was--but while we were down there we got the place cleaned up cooked meals and the guys fished.


My father was a heart patient most of my life--he died of his 4th heart attack when I was 19 and he'd just turned 47. I think what it really comes down to is that we have a set amount of time to be here on Earth. Both of my Grandma's were born the same year, but one lived to be 86 and the other to over 100.


My paternal Grandpa gave me a wonderful final gift. My father was the first major loss; both sets of grandparents were still alive when he died. Death terrified me. One afternoon I was surrounded by a wave of love that was Grandpa. I got the call about his death 150 miles away about 10 ninutes later. He'd let me know that who we are inside and the love we feel for people survives death. I haven't been afraid of it since.


I hope some of this helps you. I'll be checking back and if you have something you need to say I'll be here.

"You are letting your opinion be colored by facts again."
'When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
these are both from my father.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 01, 2010 - 1:03PM #3
colin99
Posts: 2

Thanks very much for your post. Your story made a lot of difference to me. It makes me realize that many people are in the same situation and that can give me the strength to get through this. The next few months are going to be rough and I get hit with waves of anxiety and depression about the loss but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


 


Colin

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7 years ago  ::  Nov 02, 2010 - 1:37AM #4
karbie
Posts: 3,329

Dear Colin,


I'm glad I could help. sometimes just connecting and knowing that someone else heard you helps because you aren't suffering in a vacuum. While the Victorians got a lot of things wrong, I think that wearing mourning or a black armband for men to show that you've lost someone you loved and should be cut some slack is a lot saner than expecting someone to get over it as soon as the funeral's over is a lot crazier.


As soon as I went to see Grandma, one of the first things she said to me was, "Oh, good. You'll be here to take care of your mother, and when she gets older she can live with your sister." I had gotten some bonus time with her the year before when I'd gone back to my home town to take my mother in law for her radiation treatments for breast cancer. during that period, Grandma called and asked if she could spend a few days at Mother's with us. she'd never done that before. As it turned out, she spent over a week there and I spent the first 2 nights she spent back at her own home to help her during the night. How strange but cool to spend the night at Grandma's again. One night I'd tucked her in, and she reached out both arms to kiss me on the lips. There was a lifetime of love in her eyes.


There's a psychic streak in our family although I'm hardly as sensitive as my sister or niece. But one night she got through to my son. He had cooked dinner for us, promising he'd do the clean-up. He ended up leaving it for me to do. he came back downstairs to get a drink as i was working on the third and final sink of dishes, left the kitchen and was back a few minutes later with an odd expression and offerred to finish up. I'm disabled, so I took the offer and left. The next morning he came over to me and told me he'd just about made it to the stairs when a thought came "Did you see the number of dishes you left in the sink for your Mother to do?" And asked me if that had been Grandma. It absolutely was; the next intensity would have been "Did you see the number of dishes you left for your poor Mother to do?"


I could understand what you are going through--Mother and Grandma at least talked every day during those last 20 years. They went on some cruises together, down to Florida to visit my sister when she was living in the Keys and up to see me and take my son and me back for visits before he started school. All of Mother's doctors were the same as Grandma's and none of them were particularly close to Mother's side of town. I'm glad my sister is back in town for Mother and closer than an hour's drive to decent medical care.


I know you have a lot of papers and things to go through--but if you need to talk to someone, I'll be checking back, okay?


Hang in there, whether it's one day at a time or one hour. It will get better.

"You are letting your opinion be colored by facts again."
'When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
these are both from my father.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 01, 2010 - 1:38AM #5
deedee123
Posts: 1

Colin, I am so sorry for your loss. My mom passed one month ago, also. 10 months od caretaking and watching her fail sent me into a depression. Unlike you, I couldn't finish things I had started and had to take a break this fall. You gave gift, one you'll never regret but I do understand the question, "how do we make a life for ourselves?" I speant many years as another sort of caretaker for mom and now I'm left empty and so very lonely. I loved her more than anything. Like you, I do have supportive friends and I have a sister and father (who are grieving much differently). I'm glad I found this site and hope I'm not forgetting anything. MY mind has been very blank lately. Take care of yourself this holiday season.

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 01, 2010 - 9:09AM #6
karbie
Posts: 3,329

Dear Deedee,


I'm so sorry for your loss! I know that the holiday seasons are tough--I can remember thinking I was prepared for everything but not getting a loved one a present or sending a card kind of slaps you in the face. Especially as raw as everything must be right now. I am glad that you have family around. I understand why going to them isn't more of a solution for you--people either get defensive out of guilt they didn't do as much as you to help your mother when you weren't thinking of that at all or you have to bottle up too much of your own pain when you see how much your pain bothers them.Not a great situation.


Depression can be caused by many things, and most of them have nothing to do with mental illness in case someone gives you any crap about it. And Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can happen to anyone who has been under a great deal of stress--you don't need to have been in combat to get it. I have clinical depression and wouldn't be surprised if you do after all that you've been through. I've seen CAT scans of the Brain of a normal person and the brain of aomeone who is depressed. I was really shocked to see the difference between the brains...but then I was also surprised they managed to find the person with the "normal" brain. Prolonged stress can actually alter the chemistry of the brain. Taking something to get the brain balanced is no different than a diabetic taking insulin. There's no shame attached and frankly it isn't anyone elses' business. If they weren't there to help you, they have no right to say a single negative thing to you.


So don't beat yourself up or let anyone else beat you up about things you might have done or things you did for your mother. If they had wanted things to get done their way, they should have been there to help you.


I don't know if you read my posts to Colin--but they apply to you as well. Love survives death. The personality survives death, but without all the physical problems that made the victims. The soul is the spark of energy that animates us all. Energy can't be destroyed but it can change into a different form. Water cn be steam, liquid,  ice or the morning dew in a garden. Or it can form rainbows for  you.


Hang in there. Please at least check out the Depression support forum. there are some wonderful, carin and supportive people there.  I'll still be checking back here as well.


 


 

"You are letting your opinion be colored by facts again."
'When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
these are both from my father.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 06, 2010 - 6:26PM #7
thefish
Posts: 1,533

My eye caught this thread because my mother has been going down hill this year and 3 of us live far away.  She is in the hospital right now and her last wish was to have all of us home for Christmas.


She spent her 80th birthday in the hospital and the one child that still lives in town was on a vacation...so she was there...alone...with not one of her 4 children with her.  My heart broke into a million pieces.


Now, she's on dialysis and we're not sure if she will make it to Christmas.


I thought I was prepared...I'm 50 and we all know that we will lose our parents someday.  But I'm taking it harder than I thought I would.  I guess I always thought that I'ld see her again before the end.  I haven't seen her in 2 1/2 years.  She was the only parent I had.  Dad wasn't around much after the divorce and she raised 4 children alone.  She is the strongest woman I've ever known.


It's so hard for me to accept that she is so frail now.  I am just praying she holds on until we get there.  My sister is in the same boat.  Mother lives in Louisiana, I in California and my sister in Seattle, WA.


I don't know why I posted all this...just felt this was a good thread to pour my heart out on.


Thanks for listening...and good luck to you...I'm sure you will be fine...it will just take time.


Peace


<'{{><


 

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 06, 2010 - 7:08PM #8
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,267

Wow, I'm sorry for all of your losses! Everyone here, Karbie, Colin, Deedee, thefish.


Deedee, about eleven years ago I could have written your post. My mother died from breast cancer over Christmas break my last year in college and I had a lot of problems with depression. I have bipolar actually although it wasn't fully diagnosed then, but the added stress made it worse. I went back to school right away and people were wondering how I could be back, but I really didn't see any other way. My mom hated to have people put themselves out for her and thus she would have thrown spitballs at me from heaven if I'd stayed out of my last semester. It was really hard, though, I almost didn't graduate.


It's always painful to lose a parent...I don't care how old you are or how old they are, you are never *really* prepared for it. You can know it's coming and you can be there at their side but we still feel the loss either way. The holidays can be particularly rough for some people. I will always remember the exact day and time my mother died-December 12, 1998 at approximately 11:45 pm. No one can tell you how you are 'supposed' to grieve because we are all different in that way. We have a kind of 'psychic' streak in our family too and so I believe that we can still talk to my mom and that she'll hear us, even if she doesn't respond the way we expect. I've seen her in dreams and heard her voice, and that's a very comforting thing although it was kind of scary at first. Karbie, does that happen to you?


My uncle passed away a couple of weeks ago after having cancer for a long time (ten years), and the things I keep reminding myself about him and my mother are that they are not suffering anymore. They may have died to this life but they are on to another journey if you will, where they won't have any of the illneses and problems they had here. The body is only a shell, it's not the essence of a person.


Again, I am sorry for your losses.

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 08, 2010 - 1:25PM #9
jan802
Posts: 2

My  condolences to you...Even though my relationship with my father was very different from your relationship with your father, I know what you are going through....My father had a stroke last year and passed away in February...It feels really weird to NOT have him in my life now...I did not have to call  him on his birthday or Father's Day...He won't be there to walk me down the aisle when I get married.....His death made my relationship with my immediate family a bit stronger....We have to love one another...

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2010 - 5:20AM #10
karbie
Posts: 3,329

Yes, that has happened to me--we also have a psychic streak, although a lot of mine includes physical touch. Due to my father dying 2 weeks past his 47th birthday, when the time came I helped Mother deal with losing her own father because I'd experienced that and she hadn't. I  was looking at the picture of Grandma I have on my dresser mirror when we were trying to clean up the house before our son's in-laws to be came down to loan us a van until we had a chance to shop for another car. I have a lot of physical problems, and I wear out a lot faster than I would like. I told her I was setting the alarm for just an hour's nap and then I would get up and do her proud.


Guess what. Housekeeping isn't important in Heaven, apparently, because I was pushed back on the bed, my bedroom door slammed shut, and the light turned out. My husband asked why I had slammed the door, and there is no way to reach it from the bed. I slept for 2 hours. Since the kitchend taable and chairs from her house are boxed up in our living room, there's not a lot we can do until the kids get a bigger apartment. Grandma ran everything on a tight schedule when my sister and I were little.


However, I loved what she said to my son. He'd fixed dinner for us, promising he'd wash up afterwards. I kept waiting because I didn't want my husband to come down to dirty dishes. My son ended up leaving them for me; if he'd told me sooner i could have been done and in bed sooner. I was on the 3rd and final sink of dishes when he came down to get a drink. He left and came right back, offering to do the dishes. I was exhausted, in leg spasms, and got out of there before he changed his mind. He'd had an odd expression, but I needed to get to bed. The next morning he said that he had almost reached the stairs when a thought was put in his head "Did you see all the things you left in the sink for your Mother to do?" I had to laugh, because that was exactly Grandma! the next step up would have been "Did you see all the things you left in the sink for your poor Mother to do?" Grandma was "Mother", and mine has always been "Mother" as well. I'm Mom. I have to say that I loved it, and knowing she was still looking out for me has been wonderful.


I didn't know what music the kids had chosen for their wedding; as it turned out, their processional was Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". It was one of Grandma's favorite pieces of music to play and had been the recessional when we were married. Theris was "I Got You Babe". Another connection --they had made little take home waxed boxes for guest at the reception to take home candy in since it was a dessert reception. The chocolates were Grandma's favorite brand as well. After we'd been transerred to Ohio, she fell in love with one company from here and it was something no one else could get for her. It was a surprise seeing them there.


I had been planning to come back to see Grandma, and ended up going back a week earlier than we'd planned. As soon as I walked into her room, she said "Oh, I'm so glad that you are here. Now I can go because you'll be here to take care of your Mother." the year before she died I got time with Grandma I would never have expected to have. I had gone back to take my mil to her radiation tratments for breast cancer. After I'd been there a few weeks, Grandma called Mother and asked if she could spend a few days with us there. That had never happened before. As it turned out, I took Mom to her treatments in the afternoon and took care of Grandma during the night. (After beating Mother to her the first night, Mother agreed to take her usual medication at night and let me do it.)  So we had some very, very close time together that I will always be grateful for.


I think in some ways having a psychic streak helps because we don't have to wonder if there really is something after this. That question has been answered. It doesn't mean that we miss those we love any less, or that we don't have questions we'd like answered. (If I did really agree to some of these physical problems before I got here, is there just a moment where I get to kick myself? I'd really like to.)


 We all cope however we can. Sometimes it is humor, sometimes we cry, or sometimes we are lucky enough to bring up a memory that isn't painful....like one Christmas Eve when my son's younger cousin tackled him over. I just said "Tigger bounce" since he loved doing that with us. Everyone held their breath--but it would never have occured to my son to do anything to his 1 year old cousin for that. He'd been getting a kick out of watching him try to put all the stick-on bows on his head and clothes all evening. On my worst days,  I know that each day gets me closer to being with them all again. In the meantime, I can see those gatherings whenever I need to. I'm just grateful I got to have my Grandma as long as I did.

"You are letting your opinion be colored by facts again."
'When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
these are both from my father.
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