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My mom is dying

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I don't know if this forum is still active, but I'm floundering.  I'm new here.  I'm 30 years old, and I should be better prepared than this.


My mom is 63.  She was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago.  The doctors only gave her about three years, but she tried a new treatment that let her live more or less normally until this last year.  She's gone downhill quickly, and we're probably in the last week now. 


I'm less than six feet away from mom right now, but I've already lost so many little pieces of her.  The last time we snuggled together, the last time we laughed at a joke together, the last time I showed her something funny on the internet, the last time she took care of me when I was hurt.  I don't even remember most of those lasts, but now they're gone forever.  She can barely ask for basics, like water.  She's confused.  She knows who I am and will sometimes respond if I say I love her.  Soon that will be another last I've lost, the last time she said she loves me too.  


I don't understand how it can hurt so much.  My grief counsellor said that grief is just another form of love, and my grief is so powerful because my love is so powerful.  But because of that, it feels like my life is ending too.  Everything I love about my life seems to go back to her.  My love of music came from her.  If I find new music I love, I can't share it with her anymore.  My love of reading came from her, and the old comfort favorite books are either her favorites too or involve death and grieving.  I have two cats that I love, but instead of finding comfort in them, half the time I resent that they've become mostly my responsibility now that their other main caretaker, my mother, can't do it anymore.  Anytime I try to think of something good in my life after her death, it feels hollow and sad because it's worthless without my mom there.


I feel so alone.  This is partly justified and partly not.  I've lived with my mom for a few years now, and I've turned down opportunities to go out or make connections with other people in favor of being there for her.  I don't really have any friends who live near me.  I have two good friends, both in different states, and they've been super great about being there for me.  I'm friendly with my coworkers, and they've been supportive, but we're not friends.  I have extended family in another state, and communication with them is sporadic but supportive.  My dad and brother live with me and Mom.  Dad is very loving and supportive.  Brother loves me, but we're not close.  I'm newly estranged from my sister.  Despite all this, I feel like I'll be completely alone in every way that matters when Mom's gone.  


All this and she isn't even gone yet.  I don't know how to get through this. 


I hope I did this right.

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I am so sorry to learn of your mother's serious illness, dear one, but gratified that you've found your way to this warm and caring place, where you are not alone. Here you are surrounded by kindred spirits all.

You are experiencing Anticipatory Grief, which began when you recognized that your mother's illness cannot be cured and her death is coming soon.

You don't say whether hospice is involved in your mother's care, but I certainly hope so ~ both for her sake and your own. I also encourage you to do some reading that I hope will speak to you in a helpful way. See Anticipatory Grief and Mourning and In Grief: After Caregiving Ends, Who Am I?  You'll find links to additional resources at the base of each article.

At the very least, know that we are thinking of you and here to offer whatever comfort, support and information that we can. 🧡

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I lost my mum to cancer in 2011. I didn't even know what anticipatory grief was until I found this website. She died the day after I made my first post. It's very hard to deal with it alone. I'm glad you have friends that support you, even if they are far away. Sometimes just being heard makes a world of difference. 

Please try not to hang on to the last memories where she isn't herself because you don't want to remember her like that. I still fight to forget the way mum looked lying in bed in palliative care. I try instead to imagine her with her hair up, wearing modest makeup and dressed business casual for work. With her purple glasses. I have those glasses now, I never felt they looked right on me though. Maybe I look too much like her...

My cats mean the world to me. I think you'll find the resentment you feel now will go away eventually. I took care of my mum when she was dying until I couldn't physically do it anymore. So I understand why you would see your pets as a task right now. It's been 12 years since she passed and my cat Nile was around while she was sick and dying. now he is sick too, and needs a lot of care. I find solace in caring for him because it reminds me of the last few months with my mom. Although her illness and death were the hardest thing I have ever experienced I would do it all over again in a heartbeat because I loved her so much. 

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Yes this forum is still active, some of us are here every day...
This was my first Christmas ever without my sister in my life, she died 3/28 this year.  VERY hard!  You see I had a mom that was mental and an alcoholic dad, so my sisters meant everything, I've lost two of them now.  I am so sorry for the loss of your mom (mine passed 8 years ago).  Thinking of you and sending prayers your way...

It helps to come here to read/post, it helps us process our grief.  (I wrote this ten years after the loss of my husband).

Grief Process

This is not a one-size-fits-all, what strikes us one day will be different a few months/years from now, so please save/print this for reference!

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of its own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs)))  Praying for you today.


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Thank you so much for all your kind words, and I am truly sorry any of you had to go through this.

Mom isn't responding at all anymore.  Yesterday she's sometimes squeeze your hand if you asked, but today she isn't even doing that anymore.  She isn't dead yet, but for all intents and purposes, I think she's gone. 

And even now I keep thinking when this is all over, Mom will be ok and she'll hug me and we can go back to normal, but she won't be ok, and she won't hug me ever again, and I'll never go back to normal. 

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It's impossible to go back to normal when someone that meant the world to you is gone. I remember asking myself how the world can even keep turning. It took me a while to find traction but I eventually did and I found a new normal. Just be good to yourself and take all the time you need. 

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It was this way with my mom too when she went...she entered a coma, would open her eyes but it was like she couldn't see, they'd flutter and close again, unable to respond...I think they can hear from what I've known of comas...it is so hard to watch this, with my mom the end was near and I got the call 4:30 am she succumbed to death and it was final.  My heart goes out to you and anyone going through anticipatory grief, very hard place to be, like caught in between worlds.  Thinking of you and saying a prayer...

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I am so sorry...your story reminds me of my own, my heart goes out to you in your sorrow. 

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