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Lost my mom and can't seem to function


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A week and a half ago, I lost my best (and dare I say, only true) friend, my mom. She was diagnosed just over a year ago with an aggressive form of lung cancer. I still remember crying when I heard the diagnosis because I knew it was the beginning of the end. She tried to comfort me at the time saying she would still be around for a long time even though she was already coughing constantly, had trouble breathing, felt weak and had poor appetite. After going through high dose internal radiation, her breathing improved greatly. She also had genetic testing done on her tumor which showed a targetable mutation. Great news, said the oncologist! She can be treated with a pill and can avoid chemo at her advanced age of 85. She started taking the pill and it was like a miracle. Energy increased, swelling in her hands and feet disappeared, cough went away, appetite improved. We were thrilled! Her first CT scan after starting treatment confirmed the improvement: fluid in her lung was gone, tumor had shrank. We were so grateful. This was in January 2022. A repeat CT scan in April 2022 showed basically no change. Still good news. Then, the next 3 month CT scan in July was devastating: original tumor was now bigger than its original size with an even larger new tumor in the other lung. The drug had stopped working. Oncologist suggested radiation, possibly followed by chemo (he wasn't sure she'd be able to handle it given her frail state). Radiation did not help and at the end of August, she had to be hospitalized for shortness of breath. By then she was barely eating, had very little energy and seemed to sleep most of the day. Despite her state, I still held on to hope that some form of treatment could extend her life. Wasn't meant to be. She was briefly released back home in early September, only to be re-admitted in just a few days because I couldn't wake her in the middle of the night. Upon readmission, she was found to have a huge pleural effusion (fluid in lungs); chest tube was put in for drainage and her blood pressure was extremely low. I wish the docs had prepared me for how close she was to dying at this time because she was still able to communicate. I could have said so much to her that I didn't get to say. In a day or so, she had a seizure and never regained consciousness. After 3 days in that state, she passed away. I was with her when she took her last breath and keep replaying that moment in my mind.

I keep trying to comfort myself by the fact that she was 86 and was suffering for the last year of her life. Even when the lung cancer seemed to be improving, she required vascular leg surgery to clear an arterial blockage in her leg that caused her excruciating pain. By the time she recovered from the surgery and had no leg pain, the cancer came roaring back. Cruel twist of events. She also repeatedly told me that she had a good long life, had no regrets, got to travel to many places with me and felt very content. That, unfortunately, is of very little comfort to ME NOW. I miss her terribly. I am single and have no spouse or kids to turn to for comfort. I do have a sister, niece and nephew but none of them were close to her or took care of her like I did. They are having no trouble going on with their lives like nothing happened. Meanwhile, I feel alone and paralyzed. Can barely sleep and need to really force myself to eat. Can't even imagine going back to work as I can barely get out of bed in the morning.

I've suffered from anxiety for many years and it was her strength and passion for life that kept me grounded and able to function relatively normally. Now that she's gone I feel like I've lost all support and protection. I feel like I'm all alone in this world. I remember when they were lowering her coffin, I wanted to jump in there with her. She wanted me to live a good life but at this point in time, I just don't see a path for that to happen. In my head, I know what I NEED to do. I just don't have the motivation to do any of it. Ironically, my mom has always taught me to live with hope and yet hope that I will ever recover from this sorrow doesn't seem possible.

I apologize for the long post but I felt like I needed to get this all out. I know that everyone eventually has to face the loss of a parent. That is the circle of life. I just wish I had the coat of armour to do it.

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Dear beegee22,

We are deeply sorry for your loss. Please know you can write as much as you need to. We are all here to support each other. 

It's devastating to lose beloved parent. I too wanted more years with my dad and hoped he would live to a 100 like George Burns.

You're so very early in your grief. Everything you have expressed is normal and natural. It's really hard. It takes a long time to mourn and grieve our parents. 

My counsellor told me it takes on average 18 months but can be longer or shorter. And there is right way or wrong way.

For me, I didn't even have the support of my own family. I went to grief counselling, joined a support group and looked for additional supports online. I hope these websites will help you feel less alone.

Grief in Common

What's Your Grief

Grief Share

Grief Healing Blog

Thinking of you. x 

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Thank you so much for your post. It is so encouraging and exactly what I needed.

I felt exactly the same! My mom was so vital and full of life up until about a year and a half ago, I was sure she would have given George Burns a run for his money. Considering she was a never smoker, the diagnosis of aggressive lung cancer was devastating to say the least. She loved life and refused to give up until the very end.

I am finding that the fine folks online (such as yourself) are helping me more than my own family. Thank you again.

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