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I'm not coping


immissingyou

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kirstenholme

Hi. I've just signed up here. My mom was diagnosed with fourth stage cancer in July last year. She's recently finished her first cycle of chemo and the doctors have said that's the end of that. She's now on palliative care. She lives a 15 hour drive from me and won't let me visit. I want to be with her from now until she dies and am able to do so as my work is dependent on only a laptop. I've told her in a million different ways how badly I want to go, but for now she just won't let me. She says she's struggling emotionally and so is her husband, and she needs to resolve that first. But cancer does not get easier, and dying doesn't become 'resolved.' It's simply not going to improve.

As for me, for the first months, I did have hope that chemo would do some good, but now we know that it hasn't. I have spoken in depth to her oncologist and she's told me she can only give me statistics and educated guesses in terms of prognosis, and she says 9 more months, but it could suddenly swing due to the cancer in her vertebrae. If that spreads to the spinal fluid, it'll go very quickly to the brain, and end in coma and death.

Since we were told there was no more hope, I have been sinking into what I'm told is depression. I've been put onto antidepressants, which I began 3 days ago. Every day is intolerable for me in terms of emotions. Either I try inconsolably, and that exhausts me so much I struggle to function for days afterwards. Otherwise I feel a terrible sense of dread, or I feel numb and can't do anything except stare at nothing for hours on end. I hate doing everything. I'm a person who takes a lot of joy and pleasure out of life and I'm almost always happy. Now I feel miserable every day, and the emotions, as I've said, are intolerable. The future holds nothing good. It will be months of this, followed by the death of the only person in the world I never want to be without. We are very close, and she is so important to me and my life. We have a complex but wonderful relationship. I cannot bare thinking about what it would be like to lose that. We're in communication almost every day. How do people cope with this long grief? I feel as if I'm trying to crawl up a vertical wall, just trying to get through each hour.

I also feel terribly alone. I recently had my two best friends disappear from my life: one went to work overseas and the other is drowned in work. They were the support that kept me feeling above water. Another friend I have is very loyal but entirely cerebral, so I can't talk to him about this. All the others who I thought were friends find a quick exit if the topic turns to my mom, but they are happy to garner support from me. I have looked for cancer support groups in my area to no avail. I can only see my therapist once a month. Also, my dad died of cancer 3 years ago, so after my mom dies, I will have no more family other than my brother who also lives far away.

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Hi Kirsten,

First off - a big hug for you :) None of this is easy, and finding the "good" emotions will be hard.

I was just recently reading Don Piper's 90 Minutes in Heaven and how a good friend of his kicked him in the butt because Don was denying others the ability to show their love by denying their help. My love did the same thing to me and others and it was a horrible experience for us all. From my experience, don't let her distance herself, but make it easier for her to reach out to you.

Perhaps you can surprise her by blocking out a few days, rent a hotel room, be around for a little while and work when you are able. Don't impose on their home and make it easier for you both to take breaks away from each other. Make it more spontaneous and little doses, devote those little doses of time to her and her alone (don't look at your phone, etc). Hopefully that would break down her not wanting you around. Don't be open-ended in your questions to help; don't give her the option to choose "nothing" - ask "can i get you coffee or tea" not "can i get you something". I'm just blurting out what is coming to me, so pray about it and see if you're led or get other ideas to proceed slowly. I sense she doesn't want to be overwhelmed, so find a way to address that yet not give her a path to crawl into a hole.

As for the long term, all I can do is be a part of this community to help bring you comfort in our prayers and chatting. I'm at the beginning of this grief journey with my love, so I'm worried about the same things you are over the long haul. I have no answers yet, but I can sympathize :)

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immissingyou

My heart aches for you and I certainly understand why you would feel alone and bereft. I don't know if there is an easy way to cope. I tried hiding from it, brushing it off, etc. and none of it works in the end. You almost have to face it head on in my opinion. Also, do you work out or exercise at all? I am a firm believer that having some sort of outlet is essential. It doesn't stop what's happening but it does give you some way to release all the negative. It also opens you up to new friends. What about a local church? Do they have info on cancer support groups? One other tool that was great for me and was given to me as a gift was Tony Robbins' Get The Edge program. Honestly brought me out of the hole six months after my grandmother died. It's not an easy process - so very sorry for what you are going through!

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