lrlr

i just found out my mom is in hospice. no one told me she was sick.

14 posts in this topic

hi. i am a 44 year old woman (single) and no kids. i have been estranged from my 2 sisters and one brother since my father died 3 years ago and i had to hire an attorney against 2 of my siblings. we went to meditation and have not spoken since. my heart broke but i did my best to move forward with my life. 

my father kidnapped my sisters, my brother and myself from our mother when i was about 7. my mom found us but decided to leave us with our father , who she knew was abusive and had married a horribly abusive woman. my mother has never been able to really acknowledge her lack of reponsisbility as a mother - preferring to just "move forward" which meant for me , that I had to just never really have needs and just kind of accept what she wanted to offer me. she was not abusive, just self centered and very "private." 

i decided, yet again, after my father died, that my mother wasn't acting in a way that i felt safe around and it was too much for me to keep trying to not have needs and just be a smiling happy daughter..... so i decided to stop talking to her again (a lot of awful things happened with my siblings after my father died and she wasn't supportive of me and that felt like a 2nd abandonment to me). 

I just got a call from my moms best friend 2 days ago that my mother was diagnosed a year ago with lung cancer (she's been a smoker my whole life), she lives in miami and i live in los angeles. she has been through chemo and is now in hospice at her own apt. she is also now too medicated to talk on the phone or even look at her phone. (I found this out from one of her broken english speaking nurses). no one in my family will accept my phone calls or texts, and when I spoke to my aunt (my mothers sister) she told me that she didn't think it was her job to tell me my mother had cancer and started blaming me for hurting my mother by being estranged.

the thing is - now i am not able to talk to my mother, she can't answer her phone, i have no idea how long she has left (doesn't seem like long), and i do not know what to do. i do not know if i am supposed to get on a plane and go see her, or if it's more of a self loving thing to do and the best self care for myself, to start greiving for her here where i have my own support system and friends who love me. for whatever reason my siblings hate me - and refuse to speak to me or give me any information about my mother. they do not return my calls or texts.     i just literally found all of this out - my older brother and sister i guess moved to miami (my 2 sisters and my brother all lived in los angeles) 9 months ago to take care of my mother. again no one told me. this is all a lot for me to try to stomach and process. i know my mother did not hate me - and her best friend kept telling me that "your mother planned to tell you herself, but she just got very sick and we didn't see it coming so i am calling you now" - and i am hearing through a mutual friend of one of my sisters that apparently my mother asked my siblings not to tell me she had cancer. 

I really do not know what the best idea is for me - to go say goodbye to my mom across the country without the support of people who know me, and possibly exposing myself to my extremely toxic siblings and relatives (when they were angry with me after my father died - they told me i was not allowed into my fathers home unless they were there to "watch" me)  all the way across the country. 

It took me 2 years to get my life back to a stable place emotionally after everything i went through with my siblings after my father died. i cannot do it again. anyone with any experience or thoughts around this would be so so so very helpful. thank you all so much. 

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Hi IrIr - thank you for this topic. I am sorry to see that your mom is so ill, and that you are going through this difficult decision.

More than anything, it is good to see you are taking care of yourself, and have gone on with your life and created a support system for yourself. 

I also find it commendable, forgiving, and compassionate that you still care for your mom, even though you say she "has never been able to really acknowledge her lack of reponsisbility as a mother".
 
My family situation is different from yours, in that no abuse occurred from my parents, so I don't mean to make any comparisons. What I can relate to, is what to tell my estranged family (when the time comes) that our 86-year-old dad is dying/or has died. It is good for me to read this situation from your perspective, as I seem to be on the other side of this same coin, as my sister and her family have all stopped communicating with our dad, and me and my husband. If our dad was sick and dying, I probably would let them know, if there was time for them to say their goodbyes, but I am a bit concerned about how they would treat him, as they have said some abusively mean things to him, and I don't know if I'd want to set him up for that if he is in a helpless condition (unless he asks for them, of course). And...when he eventually passes, do I tell them when the service will be taking place? Knowing me, I probably will. I feel that (in their eyes) I can never be "right" whatever I do, regarding my family (as they don't have that kind of space for me or my dad), so I have to do what I can live with.

So...back to you and what to do? You say your mom didn't hate you. She probably loves you very much, but might now be in a difficult position - wanting you there, but not wanting the upset that may occur between her children. 

Your mom is too ill to be left unattended, so private time with her, if you were to visit, is probably not going to happen. It also would be smarter for you to make this journey with a friend, as not to be alone with your family without some support.

Whatever you ultimately choose, I hope you make peace with that decision, and that it's one you can live with.

My best to you!

(Also, thank you for also using the word "abandonment", as this is a new concept for me in regards to estrangement as a kind of death, which needs to be grieved.)

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lrlr,

Hi, I am sorry for all you are going through.  Are you seeing a therapist regarding what you've been through with your family?  It might be good to, if you haven't.  It is good you have been taking care of yourself.  We can remain open to reconciliation with people that are not toxic, but as long as they are toxic it is good to protect ourselves.  I'm sorry about your mom.  No matter when it comes or if we had a good mom or not, the finality still seems to hit us, at least it did for me.  Only you can decide whether to go or stay put, myself I would go, once she's gone that opportunity is gone, she may be able to whisper to you, or know that you are there for her, but only you know deep inside which is best for you to do.

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11 hours ago, lrlr said:

It took me 2 years to get my life back to a stable place emotionally after everything i went through with my siblings after my father died. i cannot do it again.

My dear, I think that with this statement you may have answered your own question.

As Kay said, you know yourself better than anyone else does, and you are the only one who can decide what to do in this situation, since you are the one who must live with the consequences. 

The concept that Miss Ngu mentioned is addressed in this article, if you are interested: Mother Loss and The Grief of Abandonment 

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Hi there,

 

Thank you for responding. Miss Ngu, this is very helpful seeing as my siblings and family probably see me the way you see your siblings. I've said really really intense things to my mother - but remember, there was a valid reason for me saying them , coming from my perspective.    And personally, my belief is that yes - you give ANYONE the right to process and walk through their own very personal relationship with their parent before death. No matter WHAT. 

I am despondent right now to be honest. I cannot think straight, my stomach - I am literally unable to eat food. I am a wreck. 

However, I have NO idea what I will be walking into if I get myself out to Miami to go say goodbye to her, and that scares me. I also have not found anyone available to travel with me to Florida.   I have no idea why my mother didn't tell me she was sick. I don't understand. I didn't hate her. I love her so much I really love her - I just wanted her to be a parent and she only was capable of being one on her very own terms and I couldn't do it that way. I just wasn't able to. Now I am feeling such terrible guilt it is horrible.

Kayc- Yes i have a therapist, I'm very active in Adult Children of Alcoholics / alanon (no one in my family drank or did drugs but my mom smoked for more than 45 years, and my dad kidnapped me so basically my parents behaved like they were drunk anyway etc with the erratic behavior (gas lighting etc). I am VERY active within a support community. Even so, I am single and don't have anyone family like that I can sort of go to 24 hours a day like I need right now, so this helps. 

Marty T - thank you. That seems to be the feeling I'm getting, that I have answered my own question. But this is death - and you know, as humans, its SO hard to say "thanks for the opportunity to hug my mom one more time, but thanks I'll pass." It's what it feels like not going.  

Any more help or support or thoughts anyone has would be really helpful. I really appreciate all of you.

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lrlr,

Even if you decide not to go one last time, please be very kind and understanding of yourself.  You are not just dealing with death, which is enough in and of itself, but the piling on of years of maltreatment.  I do understand, and am familiar with "Adult Children of Alcoholics" as my dad was an alcholic.  My mom wasn't alcoholic, but she was mental and abusive and I know all too well how it is to deal with a lifetime of that.

My sisters and I have always been supportive of each other, throughout our entire lives and I honestly don't know what I'd do without them...three of them are in their 70s now and not in the greatest of health, and that scares me.  The one thing we afforded each other was the right to decide for ourselves how we would or would not handle our mother.  One person might continue being there for her in her old age while another could not go see her.  Either way was fine and up to us to decide.  This is something you must give yourself permission to decide for yourself, since your siblings won't support you either way...their opinions have to become a non-issue in your decisions.  Know what is right inside yourself and decide accordingly and don't second guess yourself or look back afterwards.  Your first obligation must be you.  If we live our entire lives trying to please someone else that usually doesn't appreciate it anyway, we lose ourselves in the process.

I wish you well going forward, and I'm sorry for the struggles you've had.

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1 hour ago, kayc said:

lrlr,

Even if you decide not to go one last time, please be very kind and understanding of yourself.  You are not just dealing with death, which is enough in and of itself, but the piling on of years of maltreatment.  I do understand, and am familiar with "Adult Children of Alcoholics" as my dad was an alcholic.  My mom wasn't alcoholic, but she was mental and abusive and I know all too well how it is to deal with a lifetime of that.

My sisters and I have always been supportive of each other, throughout our entire lives and I honestly don't know what I'd do without them...three of them are in their 70s now and not in the greatest of health, and that scares me.  The one thing we afforded each other was the right to decide for ourselves how we would or would not handle our mother.  One person might continue being there for her in her old age while another could not go see her.  Either way was fine and up to us to decide.  This is something you must give yourself permission to decide for yourself, since your siblings won't support you either way...their opinions have to become a non-issue in your decisions.  Know what is right inside yourself and decide accordingly and don't second guess yourself or look back afterwards.  Your first obligation must be you.  If we live our entire lives trying to please someone else that usually doesn't appreciate it anyway, we lose ourselves in the process.

I wish you well going forward, and I'm sorry for the struggles you've had.

I really really really appreciate this message.   You are so lucky your sisters have been able to maintain that mindset - I believe that would be a dream come true for me. That's awesome.   Unfortunately, that has not happened in my family. According to them I seem to be Satan.

This message really helped me. Thank you so much.   I honestly feel so terribly guilty not going - and I know this is not my own guilt to carry, it's my mother's for not being a real mother - but I am still feeling it very intensely and I cannot eat. I am scattered and can't even deal with figuring out what flight to take when I look up flights. 

I feel extremely selfish and as if I was in denial somehow if I don't go - like I am avoiding something.  And that is really why I keep trying to force myself to go - because I do not want to be like my family. I want to do the self loving thing from a place of love all around - not just jump on a plane or not on a plane out of another 'reaction' to toxicity...  if that makes sense.

 

Thank you all <3

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I know all too well what it is to grow up in a dysfunctional family, ours was horrible, but us kids banded together when we were young and have maintained that stance throughout our adulthood.  I wish your siblings would respond differently but I learned a long time ago we can't change people and it's probably unrealistic to hope for it, but I've also learned self care is of utmost importance and I'm glad you are looking out for number one, that is the most important thing we can do.  If we don't take care of ourselves, we're of no earthly good to anyone else!  You are never selfish by looking out for your own best interests, that's just smart.  (((hugs)))

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Yep. As they say in the airplane safety drill, put on your own oxygen mask first. 

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Wow, Kay! Such amazingly true words, "If we live our lives trying to please someone else that usually doesn't appreciate it anyway, we lose ourselves in the process".

And Marty, I SO agree with "...put on your own oxygen mask first".

Great reminders for me. Thank you!

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Thank you everyone. This was really helpful.  I am very very very close to officially deciding I'm not going to go see my mother.   When i sit quietly with it - my body feels much more peaceful here surrounded by my friends and supportive loved ones (chosen not familial), and when I imagine going to Miami to be with my mother - my body feels very very tense and not good.   I feel like .......  i just want to make sure that I am not choosing not to go out of fear, vs choosing not to go out of true genuine love for myself and the most self loving thing (oxygen mask on me first)........

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I wonder if it would help for you to write a heartfelt letter to your mother, saying whatever you would say to her if you were to be with her in person. Then you might try setting a peaceful scene for yourself (quiet, low light, maybe some soft music playing in the background, candles lit, photograph(s) of your mother ~ you get the idea) ~ Then read your letter as if you were at your mother's bedside, speaking directly to her.

Use your imagination to send your message to your mother, as you would a prayer . . . 

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I just wanted to thank everyone for responding to me this past week and for all of your thoughts, ideas, and support.   I made the decision to not go to Miami, and I got the call today that my mother passed away today. She had not eaten or drank or spoken in 3 days.

I am shocked at how ok I am doing right now, and how much more I felt worried this past week.    When my father, who kidnapped me, and raised me (but abused me terribly and terrorized me at the same time - even though I KNOW how much he loved me - he was incapable of being normal), I cried for a month straight and I was not doing well.  

I'm wondering if choosing to not engage with my family members is helping me feel this strange feeling of being just ok right now. This is odd. Any experiences anyone has to share with feeling strangely just "Ok" and going on about your life, I would love to hear them. 

I mean I am feeling it - but in a very detached way. Of course I cried when I got the phone call - but I'm not distraught like I thought I'd be.

 

Thank you all for being here <3

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lrlr,

Pretty much any emotion you feel in grief is "normal", it hits us all differently and in different order.  I am sorry you lost your mom and didn't get to say goodbye to her, but knowing she wasn't able to engage the last three days should relieve your mind that this decision really was taken from you.  It's important to place your own well being ahead of your family members, all the more so if they're toxic.  Only YOU can decide whether they are healthy for you or not, just don't feel guilty for doing what's best for you.

You may not feel distraught because it hasn't sunk in yet, or it may be because you anticipated her death and have already done some grieving.  You may feel ups and downs, that's to be expected.  You can go along and think you're doing okay and all of a sudden...WHAM!!  That's okay too, I've learned to take what comes and let it flow.  Grief is a learning experience all of its own.

 

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