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My mother passed away last Thursday due to complications from a superior mesenteric artery embolus that effectively destroyed her colon. She lingered for four days in a drug-induced sleep until her heart stopped. I hope she felt no pain and is now at peace and with my father who died only last year.

I was her caregiver for the past six years through several illnesses and surgeries. I did all the bedpans, wound dressing changes, doctor visits, nights in ERs and hospitals, comforting her when my dad died, getting her to live again, etc. I saw her through it all. I literally gave up my life to take care of her and did it without complaint or reservation. Unfortunately, I never followed the advice to take care of me as well along the way. Unfortunately I am reaping the rewards of ignoring that advice in many ways. I now have an arthritic condition which is supposedly stress induced which is proving to be quite a problem as it is preventing me from working and even walking occasionally.

I am now 35 years old and I have absolutely no idea what to do with myself. I have no wife, no kids, no job, and nothing to do with my day. Every caregiver complains at one time or another about the lack of time one has when caregiving. I now find myself at the opposite extreme of having too much time. There will be issues of her estate to tend to but until I receive death certificates that will have to wait.

I miss her so much and the hurt I feel is overwhelming. If she were here now, I'd do the whole six years again, or sixty if that's what it took, no questions asked. I just feel so empty and without purpose now. Some days having to take care of her was the only reason I got out of bed in the morning. She was literally my whole life, especially since my father died. We had bonds formed in battle that were different than mother-son and that now I understand were just as powerful.

I have a call in to a grief counselor and hopefully that will help. I've also been advised not to make any major decisions for a while until the acuteness of this passes and that sounds like good advice to me. Thankfully money is not an immediate issue, Mom left me a very nice nest egg.

What do I do now?
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Bolibeli,

I am so very sorry about your mom. I hope that with each passing day, the pain you now feel is replaced with just the most wonderful memories of your life with her.

Your mom was very kind to make sure you were rewarded for your sacrifice. Although, I'm sure you did not do it for any monetary gain. Do you think your mom knew that your role as a caregiver would cause such health problems for you and she wanted to make sure you didn't have to worry about the bills? Parents can be so insightful. They see the bigger picture when all we see is the nose on our face.

You are indeed a selfless person. Now it is time to regain your health. Not an easy task but you can do it. You've already proven how strong you are by caring for your mom through her life. It is time for you to give yourself the same love and attention. Be well. My sincerest condolences.

~Janie
Hi Irish,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I've always known that Mom was so much smarter than me in ways that really matter, now I know it without question. She confided in my cousin not long before she died that the main reason she wanted us to move to Tampa was that she knew she didn't have much time left and she wanted me to have family around when her end came as most of our family lives in this area.

Me taking care of me is a new proposition...I've always been so focused on her and my father before that. I really did neglect myself and my needs. She knew I was doing that as well and lamented frequently to others about "what I'm doing to his life". Doesn't matter to me, I'd still do it all again.

I'm trying to get on with it the best I can which admittedly isn't going so well right now. It's only been a week since she passed away and I'm trying to allow myself the time I need to heal both mentally and physically. I'm still in the "I don't want to do anything but vegetate" phase. Hopefully that won't last too much longer but if it does it does. I'm placing no time limits on my grieving, at least no unreasonable time limits. If I still feel this way in a few months, that may be a problem.

I did see a grief counselor and will be going back. It was a big help to talk to a third party who is not emotionally invested. I think this is a positive first step for me and hopefully it won't be the last.

Al (Boli)
Bolibeli...

I'm so very sorry to hear of your mom's passing..my thoughts and prayers are with you...
I went through much of what you are going through when my mom passed away...I'd been her 24/7 caregiver for 3 years and my days and nights were filled with my caregiving duties...I too would do it over in a second..
When my mom passed away I wanted to keep overly busy..I learned after a few weeks to slow it way way down...I needed time...then "caregiver burnout" set it..it took me by surprise and I realized I must have been running on adrenalin and stress for over 2 years..not surprising when I thought back to so many sleepless nights up taking care of her..
If you feel you need some sort of grief counselling by all means...get some..nothing comforts and assures us more than sharing with another compassionate person..you should keep nothing bottled up now...my guess is you probably did while caregiving, as you were scared, just as i was, to really let go because someone you loved depended on you so much...
It should feel like a "cleansing" now...cry all the tears you need to..and don't feel guilty nor weak by doing so..you deserve it...
And always remember...your mother is watching over you now...
Please let us know how you are getting along...
take care
PrairieGal
Hi, Bolibeli.

I'm very sorry for your loss. It doesn't matter how much you think you are prepared for the death of a loved one - especially one for whom you have been a caregiver - it is always a shock when it happens.

In your case, you have not only lost a loved one, you have lost your job. This is another cause of grief and post-traumatic stress, if you will. You will never replace your mother or her special place in your life, but now might be a good time to "take a break between jobs." It sounds like you have made a good start.

Hang in there.
-Barb
Al -
I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like she was and is an Angel. As you.
It is so hard to have all day to think. But the truth is, no matter where you may be, you have to grieve. In time maybe you can join a support group on the outside and meet some new friends. And we are here on the inside for you.
Hugs
Sue
Bolibeli

I can relate to what you are saying. Mom passed 4/16. She just couldn't get better this go around. Not my plans...and as much as we think we may be prepared when it happens....I don't think we ever are.

I like you feel so lost. Empty. Through the ups and downs....I still wanted to care for mom here at my house. I wanted to do some things for her and with her...that never happened.

I guess the only way through this is through it. Im feeling a mixture of emotions. I miss her badly. I wanted to "make it all better"....and with her thinking problems, she depended on me so much....even to a point of asking me to make her better. In her better days, she would have known I couldn't. I wanted to so badly. God's plans were different.

Mom didn't leave me a nest egg....in fact we are going to be lucky to have enough to cover everything. But like you mentioned, until the death cert comes, that will all have to wait.

My main problem now is letting go of the fight. I fought so hard for her and med changes....to make her comfortable. I told a few days before she went to hang in there, I was working to get her meds changed to make her feel better. she said she would.

God this is hard.
Take care and hugs
Ann
Hi Ann,

My sincerest sympathies on your loss. It sounds like you and I were in similar situations with our mothers...we were the fighters, the caregivers, the champions. What do we do with that energy now? I wish I had some sage advice for you, unfortunately I don't. I think what you said is accurate...the only way through it is through it. There are no shortcuts to grieving. It has helped talking to a grief counselor, but I still find myself pining away for her like a homesick 5-year-old. I write her letters to try to get my thoughts and feelings down on paper, that helps a little if only temporarily. I guess it's still that juvenile feeling of the unfairness of her dying that still gets me. I guess I just want a big old do-over. The fact we don't get those just hasn't penetrated my skull yet. I'd still give anything at all for one more conversation with her.

Hang in there Ann. I would tell you it gets better, but I'm still too new in this just as you are and to say that with any conviction would be hypocritical. I have to believe it though, just as you need to believe it. We have to take care of ourselves now, it's the best tribute we can give our Moms. That's all mine ever wanted for me, to be happy. Damn it, I'm going to try. I think anyone that has done the job of caregiving deserves all the happiness life has to offer and more. Is there a more important or tougher job out there, one that requires more sacrifice and discipline? I doubt it.

Al (Boli)
Good morning Al and thank you for your quick reply.

You mentioned sacrifice and discipline. The sacrifice I did.....but I wasn't too disciplined. I didn't do too well in that area and lost it with mom a few times. I wish I could do that part over. Even though she was unfair at times and demanded really too much out of me and my family, I wish I'd have walked away rather then getting into it with her.

My sis took a turn, and although not as long as I had mom, she knew when to give up. She was ready to place her in a NH. But I knew mom didn't want that above all else so I was determined to keep her at our house. Many days were not too pleasant in my home.....but Im trying to hang onto the ones that were. After I would get on mom for being mean to my daughter or the aides or some such thing, she would back off for awhile and let me love her. I think mom had been through so much in her life, she had a wall built that literally pushed people away. That was sad. And I was determined to make her better in many ways.

I know you are new at this too and don't need me dumping all this. Im sorry. I need to find a local berevement counselor actually. Perhaps my old counselor would be able to help. Now I do have the time that I can go, like after work.

Work....that's another thing. I don't want to go, but must. But actually, I don't want to be anywhere. I think I do...then I go or start to do something....and don't want to do it. Do you find yourself doing that? I went through this when my dad passed, so I know its part of grief. I just don't want to feel what Im feeling is what it boils down to.

Even though it was close to one of the hardest things Ive ever done in my life, I would do it all over again. I wouldn't give up the good times for anything. The bad times, yes.....but I guess that's how it goes.

I'm rambling. A good friend of mine just emailed me and said I need the two T's......talking and time.

There was this woman at work though....now don't get me wrong...most of them are good people and have been SO SO supportive and loving. I work in a counseling agency. Anyway, this one secretary was also taking care of her roommate who was pretty sick at the time a few months ago. I kept telling people that my mom was going downhill. Some listened, but she was so into herself that she would make comments like "I'll trade you PLACES!!!" She is one of these people who no matter what another goes through, she always has it worse. She had lost 3 lbs a few months ago and I was saying I wish I could lose a few. She had the audacity to say "you need some stress in your life". OMG. I about lost it. Here I was, refereeing between mom and kid and aides....continually....caring for mom's health, managing her meds, running her to drs, on and on and on....PLUS working. I said "excuse me???? you have GOT to be kidding!!" Later I went to her and told her I would NOT compete (she likes competing and being the top martyr I guess). That she had her crap and I had mine. They were both painful.....and I wouldn't compete. That shut her up.

A few years ago I had a physical problem that required surgery. She let it be known she wasn't going to feel sorry for me because of blah blah blah.

I swear if she says one mean word to or about me....I believe at this point I would punch her. I believe the rest of the agency would support me in that too. Doesn't sound real healthy.....but oh well. Ive taken all of her that I can. So she doesn't want to start. Since she always wants to one up people to try to be worse off than they are (which is weird in itself to me) well, I'll give her something to whine about. And Im actually not a fighter in that sense of the word....but the way I feel she doesn't want to start.

Geesh....I did it again. Sorry Al. Thanks again for responding.

May God touch the spot that hurts in you also. (a little prayer a friend gave me years ago)
Ann
Dear Al and Ann,

My condolences to both of you on the loss of your mothers. I am the caregiver for my mother who is now 95....this is all ahead of me, and I feel at times i am preparing myself almost daily for that time when it comes, so I will be prepared...crazy, I know...nothing probably prepares one.

As I see things, this is another one of those transitions in life we have to deal with...and we do know that TIME does heal. One only needs to look around at our friends who have gone through this transition, to know that it does heal. Oh that we could acknowledge right now that indeed ALL is well...right now..and as it should be, albeit it might not be our will; but rather HIS!

The difference in this transition is that we are uncertain as to what lies ahead...there just always seems to be that annoying little doubt that creeps in...Mother and I have already talked about this and she has no doubts, nor does she want me to doubt or fear.

Al, I am glad that you are getting some counseling, glad you are coming here to share your feelings with us. Someone on here mentioned the therapuetic effect journaling has on people. Perhaps it would be good to get up each morning and write a letter to your moms. Open your heart to her, but at the same time acknowledge that you do know what she would want for you at this time. I find that the best way for me to deal with loss is to face it squarely. Her pain has been taken away and it has become yours...you can handle that!!!

Your moms don't want you to grieve. You know that they would embrace you and make the hurt go away....you can feel that presence there with you now, if you will only allow it. Speak with her as people speak to God; and when we "listen , really listen, " answers come.

God will direct your path.

Anna
Hello all,

Thought I'd give you an update as well as pose a public question of how all of you are doing with your paths of grieving. Hopefully time is playing it's role and aiding in your recovery. It certainly is in my case. I do not pretend to be "fine" or "over it". I still have my moments of missing Mom terribly. The latest came when I received a life insurance check in the mail...brought it all right back home. You don't get one of those unless your loved one has died, no question about it.

In my journaling, I developed a list of what I needed to do to get on with my life and this is what I wanted to share with you all. I thought that the first thing I needed to do was to rid myself of all the anger I've been bottling up over the past six years...anger at myself for not always being able to do it all, anger at my mother for being sick in the first place, anger at my brother for being an absentee son and an absentee brother throughout the whole ordeal, anger at Mom's sister for just not seeming to give a damn, etc. I was wrong. I realized that, in order to truly move on and get healthy again, the one thing I needed to do before that, or anything else for that matter, was that I had to let Mom go. I had to finally get that she doesn't belong to me anymore, in fact never did, and that she belongs to the universe now. I had to understand just how difficult a life she had had in the past six years and how unbelieveably selfish it was of me to continue wishing she were still here despite her infirmities and disabilities and pains and discomforts. I had to internalize how tough a life she would have had had she survived the colonic infarct and how incredibly unhappy she would have been. She may have even blamed me for unnaturally prolonging her life. Her life would have been very short, very difficult, and very painful had she lived through what eventually killed her. For her, death was not necessarily the worst outcome and once I understood that, some of my pain lifted. This does not mean I have forgotten her or won't occasionally wish I could talk to her, just that she belongs to something higher now and she is free from the constraints this world and her illnesses placed on her. I have let her go, and we are both better for it.

I've maintained that there is no preparing for a loved one's death, no matter how long you know it's coming. Mom died a slow death for years before the incident that eventually took her. I was as ill-prepared for her death as I could possibly be. Knowledge is not experience and unfortunately one must experience death of a loved one in our cases and all the unpleasantness that goes along with it. Would that we could do it another way. If someone figures out how, I'm sure there are a couple of Nobel prizes in it.

Best wishes and much hugs to you all, Al (Boli)

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