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Loss of both parents with little support


mikeriblox

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Not really sure what to say here, my therapist recommended the site. 

Last year my father took his own life. 6 months later, my maternal grandmother passed, and almost immediately afterwards, my mother was diagnosed with a late-stage terminal illness. As I write this we're expecting my mother to die within the week.

My father was not a good person, and when the dust had cleared I hoped my mother, who had stayed by him and took care of him til the end, would be able to experience some semblance of a life without him. Instead, she went straight from dealing with his passing, to managing her own healthcare, and I'm now staying with her through end-of-life care along with other family members.

I'm 33 years old and feel like I've had more than my share of grief and trauma even before last year. To say I feel shellshocked is an understatement. Holding my mother's hand as she wastes away is destroying me, but I'm trying to be strong enough just to get through this. I never had a great relationship with her, but I know she deserved better than this.

It's horrible to write but part of me wants her to die quickly so it's over, both her suffering and those of our family.

I know I'm going to miss her. I even miss my father. Every hour my mood fluctuates from feeling overwhelming sadness, to crazy wild anxious thoughts to distract myself, to just numb. 

Where do you go after something like this? How do you go back to work like nothing happened? I don't know if I'll be able to. I feel like my life is going to fall apart. I don't have strong friends or relationships, all of that collapsed in the aftermath of my father's passing. People I thought I could count on to have my back have faded away. 

I feel angry at the world, the unfairness of getting hit with all of this one after another. This will change me, I can feel it, and I have no one back home to share that burden with, just my siblings on the other end of the country.

I'm just so tired.

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I am so sorry for your losses and the difficult time you are facing right now.   You are not just dealing with grief, you are dealing with multiple griefS.  Your anger is justified because it really is ‘unfair”, as is any tragedy.  And anger is usually a very prevalent part of grief.  Yes, this will change you, It will make you a more compassionate person, it will make you have more empathy for others going through similar situation’s, and it will make you realize that you are stronger than you think, thus fortifying you for further trials, Which we all know in this life, we cannot  escape.  Be good to yourself now, just as you are being good to your mother,  speak kindly to yourself, care well for yourself in those moments when you can, and be a good friend to yourself through this trial.  All the kindness and support you are showing your mother now, will be a soft blanket you can wrap around your shoulders  in future days when she’s gone and it will leave you with no regret and the knowledge that you did the best you could for your mother when she needed you.   Understand that all the emotions that you are feeling are perfectly normal and they are yours to feel. Let yourself feel them.  Reach out to your siblings by email, FaceTime whatever and let them know what you’re dealing with. They may surprise you with support that you never expected.  You will get through this, and life can be good again, This is one of those situations where one day at a time,  one minute at a time takes on it’s  real meaning.  The other thing is prayer, pouring your heart out to our Creator, The God of All Comfort, really the most important thing. My best to you in this stressful time.

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Hi Mikeriblox,

What a tremendous load of trauma and grief to have thrust upon you at such a young age. I truly feel for you and all you are going through. I'm so very sorry.

I'm glad you're seeing a therapist though, that's a good starting point and there are lots of folks here who have had traumatic, multiple losses like you've experienced. 

Losing your mom this way is just awful and the only advice I can give is to let her know you love her, ask all the questions you can think of, things that meant something to her and to you, memories from the past etc. If she is still able to communicate that is. I recorded my last conversations with my mom in the hospital. She didn't know at the time but I don't think she would have cared. I treasure having her voice on my phone, available at my fingertips when I need to hear her. Not everyone wants to do this though and that's okay. 

Do not feel guilty about wishing she would pass. That's very normal when your loved one is terminally ill and suffering. I had those feelings when my dad was dying of cancer too. You love them and you don't want them to suffer or be in pain. 

You ask where do you go after this and that's a really good question because everyone is different. There's no right answer but I would encourage you to continue therapy and please reach out to your siblings if at all possible. Time off work may be necessary to start processing all this grief and loss. Loss does change you. I am not the same person I was before losing my brother and parents. I have begun a spritual journey to help me cope. I'm not religious, but have put time into exploring the big questions in life. Researching Near Death Experiences has helped me tremendously. 

In time, and that's the key word here, you must allow yourself to begin connecting with people again. Relationships are the most crucial thing for our well being. We're human and have evolved to be social beings. There are lots of ways to meet people, but I think this is a bit down the road, since your mom is still with you and you have yet to come to terms with her passing. 

Tana above had some great advice about taking care of yourself. I didn't really get what self-care meant until I experienced loss. It means allowing yourself to have any feeling at any time. No right or wrong way for these emotions to surface. Allowing your body to rest and knowing your limits - saying no to people at times is okay. Your body and mind are going through so much, maybe your therapist can help with some mindfulness techniques to center yourself when its all too much. 

Podcasts on grief helped me a lot too. There are bound to be some on multiple losses as well. Amazon is always a good resource for books. Keep reaching out here and perhaps your therapist could suggest an in-person grief support group. I would have really liked that while I was grieving but Covid messed that up. It shouldn't be an issue now. 

You are not alone. 

Hugs, Xo

Traz

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Thank you both very much for your kind words.

Just to clarify, I'm staying with my brother and his family, where my mom is set up for in-home hospice (she didn't want to die in a hospital). I have to go home in a week, where I'll be mostly alone, regardless of what happens between now and then. My boss has given me a guaranteed week off for bereavement, maybe more if I ask and it can be arranged.

I keep getting lost in spirals of bitterness and anger at all the people who I thought I could count on to be near me, or at least check in, who aren't here. I know it's not helpful but I can't seem to stop it. But I reached out a little bit on social media and some people who I never thought of as close friends have been contacting me and offering their support. It's funny how you never really know who's real until times are hard.

My mom is no longer conscious. Everything was such a flurry of family activity when I got here that I barely got a real conversation in with her in the days before it became impossible. But I got to tell her I love her, that I don't blame her for anything, and that I will be okay. I think both of us needed to hear those things. Based on her condition the hospice nurse said she has a week left at the most. I find myself hoping it's less, so I at least get to be here for the end, even though I'll probably miss the funeral because my ability to travel is very constrained.

I can't imagine how I'm going to get through this, but I know I will somehow, just like I've gotten through everything else in my life. I can feel parts of my mind cracking, but I want it to be the parts that I don't need anymore. I want to come out of this as the person I always wanted my mother, and my father, to see me as, even though they never got to see me that way. I want to honor their memory by learning from their mistakes and being the best version of myself. Maybe that's grandiose but it's how I feel right now.

I wish so much that I had someone outside of the family, who wasn't directly affected, to lean on. But it's just me. Whatever "strength" this is building, it's wounding me at the same time, and I feel like both sides of that will be part of me forever.

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Hi Mikeriblox,

I am wishing you some how, a sense of peace during your final days with your mom. You said the most important thing of all to her which is I love you. When it comes down to it, that's all that matters. I've read accounts from hospice nurses that say the person may still be able to hear you, even though they appear unconscious or are at least aware of your presence.  

My dad was in this state and he waited until I left the hospital room to pass. He was always so protective of me. Even in death. 

Yes, people let you down. It sucks and shows you who you can and can't count on. I went through that, but with my closest sibling. We have a strained relationship now and the bitterness really interfered with my grieving process. It's been a long road to forgive and I'm still not there yet. I'm glad there were some who did reach out to you. Respond to them and perhaps take any help they offer.

I would also take all the time I could off work and keep seeing your therapist. Also, an in person grief support group may really help. Many of these are free of charge. You never know who you will meet and maybe friendships can form out of having something in common through your grief.

It's never grandiose to want to be the best version of yourself. It's what we should all strive for. You sound like you  have fortitude and strength as an integral part of you and this will help as you grieve your losses. 

Sending you light and courage Xo

Traz

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Thank you for the words all. My mom's funeral was last week. It was hard towards the end, but I know she's at peace now.

Grief keeps getting stuck in my throat. I had to go back to work already as I've already taken too much time off this year. I'm seeing two therapists, a psychiatrist and am in a couple of addiction groups, so I have some professional support. A couple of friends have made time for me.

I'm an orphan now, younger than most, but older than some. I no longer have to imagine a future of taking care of one or both parents.

I feel lost, empty, and free, all at once. Untethered.

 

I know from the experiences of others that this will never fully disappear, and that it comes in waves. I feel like whenever I have real stability in my life again, I'm going to collapse into the grief for a while. I think I want that to happen soon. I'm tired of holding it together because I have to, the facade has cracked too much and it's painful to hold up.

I feel like I know some kind of truth about the world that most of the people around me, especially my age, can't imagine. I'd already felt this way for other reasons, but now it's much more tangible, something concrete I can point to. This is why you don't understand. This is what you can't understand. But I know they mean well in their well-wishes.

The last thing I said to my mother when she was still coherent was that I loved her, and that I'll be okay. She lived a life of suffering and care for others, and wished I would learn from her mistakes and live a life for myself instead. I'll get my life together, and be the kind of person she never got to see from me while she was alive. Somewhere within the well of grief, there's a spring of love, pure and endless, that I no longer have any desire, or means, to hide from.

I guess, through ups and downs, through light and shadow, I'll be okay.

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I am so sorry you are having to deal with all of this. The one thing I can say is do not give yourself any expectations of how you might come out of all this and don’t beat yourself up if you feel you are not responding to all this the way you think you should. Grief and loss are different for everyone not just because of who we loose but how we were loved by each individual person we loose. So it will never be the same. These loses will make you a stronger person even though you may not think so or can’t see how. Remember that we are all here cause of loss and we can all support each other in this journey. I wish none of us had to go through any of this, but it is apart of life at some point.  💜

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