How did you deal with losing your parent(s)?

My mom is slowly dying and I can't do anything to help her. She is in the hospital and won't eat or drink and got combative with the nurses today and pulled out her IV (she has dementia). I can't understand life without her and over the past few years I have been her caregiver and best friend. I just don't understand life without her and have been breaking down crying in the shower and tried to cycle today indoors and just broke down and couldn't even pedal. I don't get this life sometimes and thought she had another 12 years in her at least. Now it could be days or weeks left. She wouldn't let the nurses feed her, but let me spoon feed her the past couple days until tonight when she refused all food basically. The option is to put a food tube in her or let her die basically and my family is opposed to a food tube. Secretly, I want her to have a food tube so I don't lose her, but both my family and doctor are recommending her to 'die with dignity', but this is literally killing me. I can't imagine life without my mom. I might permanently have to wear black everyday no joke to mourn for years. I don't know if I will ever get over this.ย 

My sister says to imagine her soul and that she will be 'free' from this life in heaven and to imagine it that way, but I am selfish and want to hold her hand and hug her for a few moreย  years, but don't know how long she will last.ย 

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Comments (22)

Most Helpful
Nov 24, 2021 - 6:45pm

Everyone I've ever known who either is saying or just said goodbye to someone they love deeply has said the same thing: "I don't know if I will ever get over this."

The complicated truth is that everybody does, and that nobody does.

Of my own sample, everyone has slowly but surely put their lives back together - first people take it minute by minute, as the panic and grief come too fast and furious to think any farther ahead; then hour by hour, and day by day, until at some point people feel like they can get through a day, and then get through a week, and so on. Put one foot in front of the other, make it to the next moment, and eventually, many of the trite cliches about life seem to come true: life goes on, this too shall pass, so it goes.

At the same time, the pain doesn't actually go away. There's no real relief, there's no end to the sadness, it just ... changes. You don't forget about them, you don't stop missing them, but you find a place to put that pain and that sadness so that it's there, but it no longer dominates and controls your life.

People are capable of unbelievable resiliency. You're one of them. Your depth of empathy is wonderful and terrible - it has enabled you to share the last few years with your mom, and to feel deep love and gratitude for your relationship with her; it is the same source that will make her loss so hard; and yet it's the very same power that will support your recovery.

You're stronger than you know.

"Son, life is hard. But it's harder if you're stupid." - my dad
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Nov 24, 2021 - 7:30pm

Thanks bro. Good points. God Bless you.ย 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Nov 24, 2021 - 8:00pm

Was gonna write a long reply to share a story, but man, I couldn't follow through with posting it. Pains me to hear what you're going through. God bless you, your mother and family.ย 
ย 

I was in a similar spot 10 years ago - family member fighting a terminal one. It still pains me the same, but I've learned to live with it. In my case it took a couple years. The hardest part is now, and it will will pass, and over time you'll heal. When I reflect, of course I have some regrets (wishing to have spent more time together rather than chasing prestige). But you do heal, bro, you do. God bless you man.ย 

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Nov 24, 2021 - 8:06pm

I extend to you the same empathy you have shown to others throughout your life.

 

 

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Nov 24, 2021 - 8:19pm

Isiah.

My heart and sympathy go out to you and your family.ย  May your higher power help you through this horrific time.

You will get over the initial pain slowly and over time.ย  However, there will always be a hole in your spirit where your loved ones once resided.ย  Eventually, that hole will be filled with memories and perspective.

I will be praying for you and your family.

Namaste.

D.O.U.G.

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Nov 24, 2021 - 9:29pm

I'm sorry to hear what you're going through. I feel Layne said what I wanted to much more eloquently. But I'll share anyway, when my grandfather died, it came suddenly and my mom was inconsolable. It was made worse by the fact that she never got to say goodbye to him, it had been 8 years since they actually saw each other in person. We spoke to him two weeks before and none of us knew it would be the last time. That was three years ago and yet here we are. The pain is still there for my mom (and for all us) but life goes on. The pain changes it doesn't hurt (that's not the right word) like it did then. My mom regrets only spending about two months with him in nearly twenty years but nothing can be done now. She can only take comfort in memories.ย 

You got to be there for your mom and hold her hand and be her best friend. From the way you speak about her in your posts, it seems you truly did the best for her and that's all you can do. You didn't have the heart to cycle today and you may not tomorrow and that's okay. Take it slow, spend time with your loved ones and take comfort in the memories you have of her.

Nov 24, 2021 - 9:35pm

Damn dude this sucks especially for someone who has big as a heart as you do. Life aint fair but what you can do is to remember all the good times you have had. Make sure you save photos / videos / even voicemails. I will say a prayer for you.ย 

Nov 25, 2021 - 12:00am

Echoing what [Layne Staley] said. Good stuff. Also, I saw family members around me falling apart. I saw a chance to be the glue that keeps the family together and stays strong for everyone else. Doing so was tough but it also made me feel better. Made me feel like I was doing what those passing away would be doing in that same situation.

Nov 25, 2021 - 1:28am

When my dad died of complications with dementia and then pneumonia (the old man's friend), I saw him the last time he was conscious before the morphine took over. ย Although he couldn't speak, he would nod at my words and smile. I might have video taped it, but I remember vividly.
ย 

When my cat had lung cancer after 15 years of her being part of our early adulthood and we put her down, the night or a couple nights before she was normal and my wife and I pet and held her like it was going to be the last time.

Time heals. ย A lot of people have regret about what they could have done when there was time left. ย You seem to be doing it right and should have no regrets. ย Her journey continues in another form or path.ย 
ย 

The night my dad died I could not stomach waiting and watching his last breath, mainly because people often breathe their last and then breathe again and I couldn't go through that. So I laid next to him and held his hand and fell asleep (had some Bob Marley music playing on loop). ย A couple hours later I was awaken by the nurse that my dad died. ย I looked at him and he looked like before but his skin was cold, except where we were I was holding his hand it was still warm. ย 
ย 

She's still conscious. ย It's tough going from "helping her live longer indefinitely" to a palliative care ("comfort") mentality when you've been so involved in helping her fight. ย I think it really hit me when I saw my dad's leg dangling off the hospital bed. ย No longer that muscular calf of a former offensive lineman, but skin and bone and limp. ย 

I used to go to my dad's senior living as much as I could, like you. Used to run there after work hoping that I'd catch him awake before he went to bed around 7pm. ย People's world gets so small when we get to that stage in life. ย I think your mom would be so grateful for you being by her side. ย She'll be with you, in you, for the rest of your life.ย 
ย 

A G-tube (feeding tube) probably will not do much for someone with late stage dementia has a tendency of causing dysphasia and pneumonia.ย 

Knowing what I know about this process and what I've read on WSO about your love for your mom, I would be thrilled to have you as my son.

Have compassion as well as ambition and youโ€™ll go far in life
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Nov 25, 2021 - 1:47am

My mom passed away two weeks ago. Everyone else is right that you start with coping by the second, minute, hour, day, etc. It's a feeling that's indescribable and honestly not understandable until you're forced to live it. That feeling is that the realization never goes away. Like everyone says, you just learn to live with it.

What has helped me is thinking about what she would have wanted for me in my life when she was healthy and happy. I'm young and my mom is going to have missed around 3/4 of my life assuming a healthy life for me. The way I get through it is truly believing she is somewhere with us, able to see our lives today somehow. She'll see our wins, our losses, and that gives me strength to want to make her proud even if she isn't here anymore.

Lastly, I keep remembering something Jordan Peterson says - "be the strongest person at your father's funeral". Obviously not referencing a mother there but the same idea applies. Thinking about who you really want to be to those around you when a tragedy like this happens. Do you want your family/friends to look at you and see a broken wreck, or as someone who can handle extreme pain and stand up and move forward?ย 

Nov 25, 2021 - 1:50am

Truly sorry to hear you are going through that. Went through a very similar scenario with a grandparent and just know there are no "right" answers, no matter what you do will cause grief and heartache. Once my grandparent told me they wanted to pass, as you put it "with dignity", it brought me some peace knowing we were doing what was best for them and not for me. I wanted them to fight as long as they could. Not sure if you ever had that conversation with your mom, but if you have try to follow her wishes as best as possible. It is human nature to want someone we love to hang on for as long as possible, but sometimes it's best to let go. As I said there is no right or wrong answer just giving my 0.02. Prayers up for you and your family.

Nov 25, 2021 - 2:00am

I lost a parent at a young age - the third day after my 18th birthday he was gone. I was too young and stupid at the time, selfish at worse, to see the signs of himself slowly dying as his last days drew near.

He spent the last week talking about the life he lived, the memories he shared with my mother, and what an adventure it was. It was the moment of my senior presentation that he left the world, in his sleep. I said my goodbye that morning, wearing a suit and tie, to go do my presentation. It was probably the last image of me he saw shortly before he took his last nap.

I didn't have a structured life growing up, I felt I never did leave my young adolescent mind. The pain sometimes still haunts me as my other parent, is also aging. I do whatever I humanly possibly can, and in my bandwidth, to make sure her days are filled with things she enjoys. I am also making an effort to eventually hire a trainer and get her health back in shape (T2 Diabetes, and other related i illnesses).

I know the pain you are suffering, but as the poster above me mentioned, be the strong person at the funeral when the time comes. She would want to see you become the proud person she raised.

I lamented that thought into acceleration after I cried myself to sleep, and it changed me. I guess you can say, I cried so much my eyes were swollen. Sometimes tears will come, but those are precious tears are tears that holds true to the memories of the past.

You got this, I have faith in you. Be strong, be brave, and most of all, be the proud person your parents raised you to be.

Nov 25, 2021 - 10:01pm

I'm so sorry OP. Would recommend a book my best friend gifted me to help me get through my own tough times - Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. Helps you learn how to carry on with life, not the usual "I hope you're ok, everything will be ok" BS. The brutal truth is that life will not be the same after, but we all are fortunate to have people around us and support each other, and slowly learn to carry on with life in a whole new different world.

Nov 26, 2021 - 11:10am

I hope God will help you in this tough situation. Don't put too much pressure on yourself because it is life and it is the rule of life.You need to know that your mother is very proud of you. What is the point of living 100 years for a mother if her children dont take care of her and dont give any attention. Your mother is very proud and happy because you are an amazing son.I remember countless posts where you were talking about your mother. It clearly shows how much you love her.If you mother would be given a choice to live another 20 years or to choose her son's love for her, she will choose you every single time.As sons/daugthers we can never fully repay the love of our parents. But you are one of those rare ones who accomplished that.Be strong, and be patient. You are an amazing son, remember that. Your mother is proud of you.

Nov 26, 2021 - 4:27pm

Oh man, this is rough. I lost my biological mother at the age of 5 to cancer. I was raised by my aunt's (her sister) family and grandmother. I lost my aunt to cancer not too long after graduating high school, and I lost my grandmother to old age and pneumonia not too long after that. My grandmother had no one so I was her caregiver for a few years. I know what it's like to see the strong people that cared for you wither away and become scared children relying on you. I also remember how my aunt's cancer came so fast and seemingly out of nowhere. She was relatively young and should have had over a decade left of life as well. Chemotherapy, cancer, aging, dementia, and watching loved ones die slowly are horrible things to witness. Nothing prepares you for that. To be honest, you never "deal" with it. Each death of a loved one takes a piece of you that you never get back. However here are some things that may be helpful to you.

1. It may sound cliche, but the love, memories, and experience you had with your loved ones never die. If you can sit quiet enough and focus on the love and memories you can feel their love. They're still with you even though you can't see or feel them. It will be hard to get past the pain of their loss to feel this love, but it is there. It's there, I promise. They never stopped loving you and their love never dies.

2. It can be difficult to move on after being a caregiver for so long. Your life revolves around the person you're caring for and it can be hard to find your purpose in life after they're gone and you're grieving. Take some time to focus on yourself while you're grieving. Perhaps see a therapist. Therapy is self-care and is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn't make you weak. Sometimes you need an objective professional to help guide you through difficult times. But really focus on yourself, your mental health, and your life. Your mom would want you to live a good life. In her heart, beyond dementia, she didn't want to burden you with her health and care. She loves you and wants the best for you so the best thing you can do is LIVE and make her proud. Really LIVE. It will take you some time to heal and figure out what that means for you, but really take the time to think about it seriously and then live your life. Allow yourself to be happy.

3. Understand that after she dies people will check in on you for a couple of weeks. You'll get the typical, "How are you doing?" and "I'm here if you need to talk." or "I understand what you're going through." But you have to understand that these people are grieving too and they also might not be equipped to help you through your grief. These people will fade away and you will still be in pain. You might feel angry, abandoned, bitter, etc. about that. You might not. But don't be angry at them. You have to understand people don't like talking about painful things. People handle grief differently. Also, people don't like to feel anything that upsets them. Don't resent them for that. Healing is your responsibility. You're responsible for your own physical and mental health so take the time to take it seriously and don't run from the mixed emotions you will have. Don't seek distractions because the emotions will be there and come out in different ways. Address it as it comes, take care of yourself like you took care of your mom. And if you notice people starting to fade away, it isn't because they don't care. They're just moving on in their own way. Don't try to drag them back if they don't want to grieve with you. It's ok, it doesn't mean they didn't love her, and it doesn't mean they don't care about you. It just means life is going on and that is ok too. Your mother isn't being forgotten. Focus on remembering her and living your life. She would want her child and loved ones to be happy and not dwell and grieve over her for the rest of their lives.

Additionally, it will be unsaid until people feel it's getting to be too much. But you will be expected to put up appearances and look like you moved on even if you didn't. If you keep dwelling on this people will grow to resent you. You will be expected to get over it eventually. People will have sympathy for you at first, but if you don't look like you're getting over it that sympathy will turn to annoyance, resentment, and anger. You'll eventually hear things like, "It's been 6 months or a year, get over it." or "You have toย  move on." You can't use her death as an excuse not to live your life to the fullest. Grieving isn't weakness, but it will be interpreted as that eventually. Again, don't get angry at these people if it takes you a long time to "get over it." You will never get over it, you will just learn to keep living. However, as I said, healing is your responsibility and your loved ones may not be equipped to help you. You may need a professional. There is counseling for caregivers and therapy for a reason. Take your healing seriously and really acknowledge and address all your emotions. Don't fake it, don't seek distractions, and don't resort to escapism. Either you address it or you will be forced to address it. You will break down if you don't. It can take years, but you will eventually. You can also become a cold person that no one wants to be around. Don't let your mother's death make you into a worse type of person. Especially, someone, she may have not liked.

4. I agree with everyone about letting her go and removing the feeding tube. There comes a point where nothing else can be done and you have to let them go with dignity. It's selfish to put it back in. The doctors are doing and have done everything they could, but death is a natural part of life. At some point, we're all ready to die. Let her transition in peace and dignity. It's not about you or your feelings anymore. As you said, it's selfish to keep the feeding tube. You're just prolonging the inevitable at this point. This is what it means when someone is on their deathbed. It's the right thing to do, and I think you know that deep down in your heart.

I hope I helped a little bit. You will get through this, and you are not as alone as you may feel. If you can't talk to anyone then find a professional or some forums where you can speak honestly and anonymously like this one or in forums dedicated to grieving and caregivers. It's out there, but it is your responsibility to seek it out and be receptive to being helped. Take it one day at a time. You will find yourself and your life again, but allow yourself the time to grieve.

Nov 26, 2021 - 6:37pm

Isaiah, stop being such a wuss.

When my grandmother died my dad was in a financial crisis and he lost his job during the same week. I never saw a tear from him and he dealt with it like a man.

You're a smart guy I've seen your posts but you're also overly confident and arrogant. If you can't face the fact that you need to get stoic to get through life yet you throw barbs and jabs at people on WSO I honestly think you should focus more on personal development than firing salvos on WSO.

Man up. I've literally seen a colleague randomly lose a brother of 40 years and he just came back to work after taking a 2 day break like nothing happened and as usual not one F***** at work cared about anything except his ability to deliver. He didn't even get a formal consolation and he just came back machine like.

Step your game up dawg. For all your so called smartness I thought you knew by now that the less emotional and sentimental you are the easier life is.

Also because I'm not a DICK, I'm telling you this. If I really was I'd not write this and let you wallow in your misery.

The most successful people I've seen are emotion less machines who let things go. Frankly I think you're too soft for this world.

Also, in case you think I'm some wuss lecturing you. I've threatened people I've had arguments with that I had a gun in person, I've been asked to leave the house by my family,

my own parents dislike me and I've almost committed suicide because my dream girl rejected me for someone more accomplished and qualified. Countless bosses talked

shit to me. Colleagues have made fun of me or talked down to me. The love of my life has had shameless anal intercourse before me with guys she barely even knows.

Man up dawg

Nov 26, 2021 - 7:31pm

This is some poor advice even though there is some truth to what you're saying. I believe all men should learn to be more stoic. Men have the burden and responsibility of keeping the world running. We don't have the time or luxury to cry and get emotional like women and children. No one usually cares about a man's feelings unless they're getting paid to care. Society will accept an emotional woman and child. They'll make excuses for them, but a man that shows anything but strength can be considered repulsive in society. Someone will take care of a woman and child, but no one is going to take care of a grown man. There's a reason why male suicide rates are higher than women's. Men are forced to act tough and suffer in silence. Then when he dies no one saw it coming.

With that said, sometimes a man needs to grieve and not everyone is stoic or ready to be stoic. Stoicism is learned. There are times when it's ok for a man to cry. Losing a child, a parent, a sibling, mentor, best friend, spouse, dog, etc. are times when even the strongest men break down. Sometimes a man is not in a position to show weakness publicly and he has to put up appearances for his family, colleagues, and community. That doesn't mean he isn't feeling it privately. Diving into work to distract you from your pain is a coping mechanism. It's nothing to be admired. However, sometimes you have to keep working because if you stop working then the people that rely on you will suffer. That's what it means to be a man.

I guarantee you those people you're bragging about felt it privately and would never tell you or let it show. Your father was probably scared to death privately, but he didn't have the time to grieve cause his life was falling apart so he kept working and kept going. But you don't know what a man is thinking when he's alone and his life is falling apart. That's why it's sometimes good for a man to find the counsel of other strong men so they can have someone to talk to that understands a man's problem. Women typically can't understand a man's position or a man's pain. Most men don't have that, but that's what therapy is for. Your colleague isn't a robot. He was feeling it, but why would he tell you he's a wreck inside? You would think he's weak for it, and his other colleagues would smell blood. Maybe someone that wanted his job or position. A man usually has to find ways to deal with his grief privately because society doesn't have patience for a weak or vulnerable man.

My aunt was a therapist before she died, one of her clients was a retired mafia hitman. She didn't tell me details cause she obviously wasn't allowed to, but she did say the things she heard from him about what he did were unbelievable. I don't know why this man wasn't in prison, but if Sammy the Bull is out talking about his life on a podcast then I'm sure there are others. However, it was so bad my aunt was shaken just thinking about it, and she didn't get easily shaken. The things a man like that did would probably make your colleague and grandpa look cute. And even he needed a therapist when he couldn't hide his emotions anymore. Who would a man like that talk to? His colleagues? His family? His friends?

A man needs to grieve sometimes, even if it's anonymously. Look at all the tough soldiers falling apart when they come back from war. Even Marcus Aurelius wrote down his thoughts and feelings. You should read about what he said about asking for help, and you should read what Seneca said about conquering grief.

Nov 27, 2021 - 1:06am

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"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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