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My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer 3 years ago. I drove across town before and after work for 8 months to help my dad take care of her. She passed away in 8 months, the last three weeks of her life she spent in Hospice care. I had made a promise to her that she would die at home but my dad and I couldn't give her proper care and keep her pain free at home. I carried much guilt because I didn't keep my promise. One month after she passed my dad came to live with me. He was an end stage renal patient and over the course of the 2 years that I took care of him we were in and out of the hospital countless times dealing with fistulas, pneumonia, staph infections, and the list goes on. I finally had to resign my position at work for the last year because he became a full time job. Every time he was placed under anesthesia he developed "toxic dementia". My dad was 6' 5" and at this time weighed 210 lbs, so when he chased spiders that didn't exist and fell, it was quite a chore to pick him up. I tried hiring caregivers, but that is a story in itself. Thankfully the dementia usually cleared within a few weeks, his mind improved but every hospital stay took its toll on him physically, he became weaker and weaker. Dad was a handfull, I called him Archie Bunker. He was very confrontational, unwilling to participate in his care, so it was a struggle. I ran on pure adrenelan and stress, 24/7. He was hospitalized in January of this year and it became evident to me that he would no longer have any quality of life, so decisions had to be made. Dad wouldn't even discuss advanced directives, so I had to convice the Hospitalist that Hospice was his only hope for dying with dignity. When I told my dad of my decision, he slipped back into reality and said "thank You" and that was the last time he spoke. He was moved to hospice and passed 3 days later. I was there at his side and I was thankful that I was able to share his last peaceful breath. It has been two months since his passing and I am in the process of mourning both of my parents death. I didn't have the opportunity to grieve for mum because dad became my top priority after her death. As some of you are aware, the entire encyclopedia of emotions bombard your being and sometimes it is overwhelming. But this I have learned...I am so thankful for everything that has happened in my life because all of the experiences, trials and tribulations, make me the person that I am today. What a blessing to realize your strengths, to develop deep spiritual connections and to walk away with the highest respect for life and how precious every moment is. I also know that the grief, tears, and feelings of "what is my purpose now?" will pass and that the universe has many wonderful challenges left for me. I hope that all of you will embrace every moment and try to find the lesson that is presented to you. Be thankfull, you have been chosen by the universe to become who you are ment to be.

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Thank you for your post. It really made me think and I hope that I can be the person I am meant to be after all of this.

My mom died Dec.7,2006. One week later my dad went into the hospital and has been there or a nursing home ever-since. I too, haven't had time to grieve my mom because I am helping my dad. Last week I packed up their house to get it on the market. I try each day to pay attention to things I am thankful for, I am trying to focus on happy memories of my parents, not just my sadness. Thank you again for posting. Your post is one I will read often.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

Trying to be thankful for everything I have is extremely tough right now.... I have lost some much that I am scared to mention anything I am thankful for because it too might become a loss... To this date and going back four years I have loss two of my favorite uncles, one favorite aunt, my loving parents, lots of loving pets, my house, the best neighbors in the world, my friends, my job, developed more health problems, my loving dog Chelsea, Let's just say my whole world... But I can say honestly I am thankful for waking up on God's earth, Knowing God loves me even when I do not love myself, my new neighbors, my doctor, my new job, my family the ones who still show love for me... So you see even when things look bad there are things to be thankful for... I try everyday to say this so I can remember that there are good things... Take care Shelley

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Shelly,

You have certainly had a lot of things to deal with in the last few years. Yes, God does love you and he never presents to you anything that you cannot handle. When you say that your whole world has changed remember that along with these changes come new chapters in your life, new beginnings present the opportunity to start anew with a fresh outlook. I know that it is hard to accept the things that happen in our lives and to embrace the addage that "all things happen for a reason", but..there are reasons to all of these things. After taking care of parents for the last three years and loosing them, I have a clean slate and the opportunity to create a new reality for myself. When you are depressed and dealing with heavy sadness it's difficult to remember the things that made you happy. So, each day, I make it a priority to laugh and enjoy something. That could mean watching a comedy, doing something fun with a friend, taking a walk and remembering something funny that happened in my life or going to the pet store to hold a puppy. As each day passes you will find that it will become easier for you to smile. I keep an "I'm Thankful" journal, every day before bed I write down something GOOD that happened in my day, sometimes that just may be a parking spot in front of the store when it is raining. At the end of the week I read each day's entry and thank God that my life is good. You will heal in time, my prayers are with you.

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I am a soon to be 44 year old woman. Ironcally enough I am also the Director of Volunteers at a large Hospice in West Virginia. I lost my Mom around this time last year (June 11, 2007). I am not handling it well, although I present very well on the outside. However, I feel like the spider cracks of deep grief, horrible blackness and hopelessness beginning to weave their way out of my skin. I don't know what to do. I am too close to my Hospice family to get help there. I tried EAP which was a joke. I sometimes feel stupid for even feeling this way as I am not one of those crazy people who developed an abnormally close, emeshed relationship with their Mothers and just can't function without them - truly. It is just she was all I had all my life -- my only constant. I am an only child and feel so alone. I guess what makes this worse it that I also went through a divorce 6 months before her horrible death. I wasn't expecting her to die. We went in for what we thought was a routine heart cath because she was having shortness of breath and it turned into an open heart bypass which in turn (due to many medical mishaps such as the nurses overdosing her and causing her to have Narcam and in turn sending her kidneys into failure and into the ICU two days after surgery). Needless to say it ended up being a 3 month journey in the ever nutty health care system. Hospital, ICU, cardiac step down, a rehab hospital, home health, back to the hospital, and into a long term acute care hospital and back to the hospital back to ICU and death.

She died of MRSA her leg was horrible infected and she was on a wound vac and then her chest exploded with infection - no one knew it was still brewing. They went in to debred her chest and she had her first heart attack. I was the one to tell them not to resusitate and tell my Mom goodbye. She was on a vent but could understand me. I told her I loved her and it was ok to go and asked her two different ways if she was sure she did not want to be coded - she answered appropriately. Next day she died of her second heart attack - but at least I got to tell her how much I loved her and what a wonderful Mom she was. I miss her so badly. I had no time off (3 days bereavement) as I had to use all my vacation for the last two years to take her to doctor appts etc. Our company has since changed the rules about not letting you use sick leave to care for an parent who doesn't live with you. I feel like I am rambling and here I am reaching out into cyberspace hoping someone can save me from myself. The darkness is coming on fast. I do feel like I have no purpose - I am not a daughter, not a caregiver, not a wife and not a mother -- what am I? Everyone says --- oh look what good you do for others -- your training of skilled volunteers, you ability to speak in public, your caring attitude . What I hear is blah ,blah, blah. I am not defined by my job. I am not defined at all. So lost.

I do have an appointment with a therapist (my first time) next week. I am at a crossroads.

Its me again. In the previous post I stated my Mom's death as June 2007, it was in June 2006

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Lisa,

You have been through hell and what you are feeling is normal. It's funny how people expect someone who has any experience or works in a field that deals with grief or death to handle their own grief better than others. It just doesn't happen! It still hits you HARD. So go easy on yourself and know that you have every right to feel as you do.

You do have a purpose in life and it is to be true to yourself. I know exactly how you feel. I feel like I won't know who or what I am when I lose my Mom. And, actually, she has Alzheimers, so I already have lost her in a way and am already feeling that. So, all I can do is try to get to know myself and be myself. Don't know if that makes sense or not. And remember that your mother is a part of you and so she still exists in you. Good luck with your therapy, hope it helps. Let us know how it's going.

Hugs to you,

Shell

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Lisa

I also wonder about what the purpose of life is. i am a mother and wife but still question what am i here for. sounds crazy. i lost my mom in july 06 and have been to the lowest place a person can go. i finally admitted i was lost and really got some help. i know that my mom is with me and has helps me each day to function. i was her caregiver for 18mos and i feel lost with out her. i just do my best to get through the days. the weather is starting to get beautiful so i know that will help and i just pray alot. my thoughts and prayers go out to you. i hope you find peace today. Lori

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Lisa,

What you are is a wonderful NORMAl human being. I too understand being lost and undefined, but what keeps me going is truly knowing in my heart that this will pass. We all have the right to our feelings and other people shouldn't try to interfere with our personal journey, but they feel that they are helping with what is an uncomfortable situation. Just know that your coworkers and friends are trying to comfort you in their own way and that they obviously see value in what you do. Your profession is very honerable and you help people every day, now it's time to help youself. I think that counceling is a wonderful step, the fact that you are seeking out your options tells me that you are not hopeless or helpless. I wish you peacefull thoughts and a good week.

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Be Thankful...Thank you for your positive post. I lost my dad three and 1/2 years ago and my mom six months ago. It's been quite a roller coaster, but I know that things are better and I am getting used to this new normal.

Lisa...I am so sorry about all you have been through. Best of luck with the therapy. You sound open to it so I'm sure you will start to process all of this.

Take care...Lori

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