maurinelee60

Guess I have anticipatory grief

8 posts in this topic

I actually looked up the topic this morning because I am drowning in a cloud of dark despair. Never knew there was such a thing or that there is a name for grief before someone dies. 

I've been caring for my aunt for the last three years since she had a stroke.  With my assistance, she has been able to live alone in her house - which was what she really wanted to do. Shortly after the stroke, I created an adoption certificate where I "officially" adopted her as my mother.  

Fast forward to November 12.  Her daughter was in town on a visit and called me in fear because my aunt was unresponsive.  I raced over there and beat the emergency crews.  We took her to the hospital in a catatonic state with 105 fever.  Turns out she had a UTI, sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.  My sister has worked hospice and always warned me not to put a patient on life support if they didn't want it because the body fights to live then.  Three days in she took a turn for the worse and her son (who rarely visits her but had medical power of attorney) agreed to put her on a respirator against my wishes.  

After a couple of weeks in the hospital, they weaned her off the respirator but it was obvious both her mind and lungs were failing and we moved her into a hospice facility.  We are not on day 48 of this whole ordeal and it is usually just me visiting in any spare time I have, trying to keep her calm and happy and give her some peace.  Her daughter comes in every few weeks for the weekend, but overall I feel so alone and so sad to watch her struggle and suffer. 

My massage therapist finally told me I have to focus more on myself and staying healthy.  Any suggestions for ways to deal with this would be appreciated. 

 

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My dear, I'm so sorry that your cousins were not on the same page as you were regarding your aunt's final wishes. I cannot imagine how difficult this situation must be for you, and how powerless you must feel, especially since you've been the primary caregiver for your aunt for so many years, and apparently without any legal standing. Still, it is what it is, and at least your aunt is on a hospice service now, so that she will be kept as comfortable as possible until she dies.

I think your massage therapist's advice is solid and you would be wise to follow it. You'll find lots of suggestions for self-care in our Tools for Healing forum. See also my Pinterest page, Tools for Healing ~ especially this article, Healing and the Two Sides of Your Calendar

You may also find this article helpful: Anticipatory Grief and Mourning: Suggested Resources

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Does your aunt have her final wishes in writing?  If so, I'd provide them to her doctor.    

I agree with your massage therapist.  It's important to keep balance.  It's important to unwind, sleep, eat healthy, drink plenty of water, get some exercise.  All of this will give you your best possible chance of making it through this with as much clarity and peace of mind as possible.  I know how hard caregiving can be, we get so attuned to giving the best care to the other person, we often neglect ourselves.  I took care of my bedridden MIL that was dying of cancer for three years, this was in a time before internet, and I also had a baby & young child to take care of, in addition to whatever company came to visit her, trying to keep two households running, etc.  It's tough.  Pay attention to you, it's your best chance at giving her the care she needs.  Hospice is wonderful, I grew to love them!

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Thank you both for your kind responses.  Sorry I didn't get back sooner.  My aunt went downhill significantly and I was glued to her bedside from noon on the 29th until she died late on New Years Eve.  Her suffering is over and I am learning to deal with the grief of losing her. 

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Our thoughts and prayers are with you. You are a great caregiver to your aunt and this is a safe place to share your grief and loss.  - Shalom, George

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I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your aunt, Maurine. Please know that we're all still here for you, offering understanding, comfort and support ~ as long as you need and want us to do so.

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I'm so sorry.  Wishing you peace and comfort.

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Im so sorry to hear about your loss but I am so glad you were by her side in her weakest moments. I know that is the best thing you could have ever done.

I think its very important, more now than ever, to focus on being healthy, especially mentally healthy.  Its so easy to just want to lie in bed forever and by all means, you have a right too, but you don't want to get into a deep darkness that you cant get out off.

I actually didn't do this when I was grieving and gained a bunch of weight while grieving, oh man Taco Bell was there when I needed it, especially after grief therapy!

Take it slow and nurture your soul. Im glad you are here because you can vent to us whenever you need to.

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