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Rylee

I'm so worried about my daughter

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I am so worried about my daughter right now. She told me yesterday that she's been thinking about my mom (her grandma) and the last moments of her life (she was there with my mom when she died) and can't get it out of her head. She said she sees every single thing that happened and how cold she (my mom) got so quickly after she died and the way it happened. It goes over and over in her head. She says she's been breaking down just out of nowhere while she is out and about or at work. She has been doing this since my mom died.

She also told me that she thinks she was the reason that my mom died. I know that's not true. My mom was going to die and no one could stop it from happening. We were told to give my mom morphine at about a half hour apart that last day because she was having such a difficult time breathing and was in pain. I don't know if my mom was in so much pain or if she was asleep or what because she never woke up from the night before when she stopped being able to swallow. My daughter was vigilant about making sure my mom got the morphine. We kept a log together to make sure we were giving it to her when we should be. But my daughter said she thinks that she made a mistake and gave her too much of it. I know that she didn't because I was watching her give it every time she did. We followed the directions of the hospice people. But my daughter has been having nightmares about this. 

She also told me that she is afraid that I'm going to die and that she is going to lose me and if she loses me she will fall apart and die too. That's what she thinks. She has been somewhat clingy with me since my mom died and making sure I"m ok all the time. I know she's been sad about my mom dying but I didn't realize until yesterday exactly what she was going through. When I ask her she always tells me she's fine. She hasn't wanted to let me know. She said she didn't want me to stress over her and wanted to be strong for me. She just broke down crying so hard she could barely breathe while she was telling me all of this last night. 

I'm not sure what to do to help her. She's not willing to go to a grief counselor. I know how she feels as far as being emotional. I've been emotional for all this time too. I've tried to be strong for my family and I've tried to do what I have to do and get on with my life but I miss my mom so much I can barely stand it sometimes. I think I'm over it and suddenly I'm bawling my head off. Now knowing that my daughter is doing the same thing I wish I could help more than I am. I know she was extremely close to my mom. She, my mom, and I were the "three musketeers" as my mom would call us. My daughter did as much and sometimes more than I did to take care of my mom. I knew she was sad quite often but I didn't know she was having breakdowns when she was at work or was having them as often as she is or that she was worried about me dying. She said that since my mom died she has been thinking about her own mortality and mine. 

I could sure use some advice about this. All I was able to do is let her talk and I didn't really know what to say to give her any advice. I love my daughter so much. I hate seeing her in so much emotional pain and not being able to help ease it. :( 

Rylee

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Rylee, my dear, it's unfortunate that your daughter is unwilling to see a grief counselor, as I think that doing so would give her the information and reassurance she needs. The next best thing would be to provide her with some readily available resources, and encourage her to use them.

Here are two resources I would suggest for your daughter.

The first is an article by hospice nurse Barbara Karnes, RN on the matter of giving morphine to a dying patient: Does Morphine Hasten Death?

The second is to for her to try some of the pre-recorded guided imagery that is produced by Belleruth Naperstek of Health Journeys, since it is so effective in relieving the sort of post-traumatic flashbacks your daughter is experiencing. You can read more about it here: What Is Guided Imagery?

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“I could sure use some advice about this. All I was able to do is let her talk and I didn't really know what to say to give her any advice. I love my daughter so much. I hate seeing her in so much emotional pain and not being able to help ease it.”

Dear Rylee,

Your last sentence is so very powerful. Most people think that those of us in grief can be “fixed.”  We cannot.  I think that the most important thing another person can do is sit with the one grieving and allow them to talk.

I am so sorry that you are worried about your daughter. And please accept my condolences for the loss of your mom.

I remember when my own dear mother died we were fortunate enough to have her at home and it was very hard to be okay with following the doctor’s advice that it was best to keep her morphine scheduled so she remained calm and at peace.

Did you have a hospice team helping you? Since you mentioned that your daughter was not willing to go to a grief counselor there is an RN who writes about what is natural and normal when one is dying. Her name is Barbara Karnes, RN and perhaps her booklets could help your daughter with her concerns about your mom’s last days. Sometimes all we need is to know what is normal when someone is dying.  I see that Marty already gave you the link for Barbara's information. 

You do not mention what your daughter’s age is but perhaps this was her first experience with someone dying. I think it is normal for her to fear that someone close to her will die also.

Your note is filled with many thoughts. A question I would have for you is have you given yourself permission to grieve for your mom? Have you sought a grief counselor yourself? Perhaps if your daughter saw that you sought grief counseling she just might go along with you. Bless you and sending hugs.

Anne 

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Rylee, much of the same thoughts that your daughter has shared are what I have experienced with the sudden death of my wife. Much good advice is already given here. My wife's death shook me to the core. It feel like there was no certainty or stability in my life.  I had the same questions.  Life fells out of control.  Suggest to your daughter that she check  our group and find like minded people who can help her to realize she is not alone in her grief. Grief work takes time, energy, and someone who can  listen and share the burden of grief.  You ane your daughter are in my prayers. - Shalom

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Some of what your daughter is going through with her grandma dying is what YOU are going through watching her go through her grief.  Feeling helpless and powerless to stop it or change anything.

To borrow a quote from http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2016/03/in-grief-coping-with-moment-of-death.html
"When someone we love dearly has died, it is only natural for us to think of all the things we could have, would have, or should have done differently. We are our own worst critics, and it is only human to want to go back and re-do whatever we think we’ve done wrong. Unfortunately, whether it is justified or not, guilt is one of the most common reactions in grief."

So true!  It's hard to talk ourselves out of guilt, even if it's not justified!  It's good to remember that our feelings are just that...feelings, and truth and fact often have no bearing in them.

Would your daughter consider going to grief counseling WITH you?

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