RSS Feed Print
Ambush of Grief
Lainey
Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 12:43 PM
Joined: 5/14/2012
Posts: 20


My 71 year old Mom passed away a little over 4 months ago. I visited this site many times in the last three years since her diagnosis of vascular dementia. I only posted a few times though. It always made me feel a little better to know others understood and cared. If they had made it through so could I.

 

I feel like my friends and family all think I should be moving on by now. I still want to talk about my Mom or how sad I still am and I can tell they are just ready for me to move on and be over it. It is never said in so many words, but the feeling is there just the same.

 

My Mom was my best friend. I was her only child and I was her world. She loved me, her son-in-law, and her four grandchildren more than anything. It makes me sad and angry that she won't be here to see them grow up, get married, have babies. My Mom shared a house with us for over 20 years.  She worked full time and was a vital part of our family.

 

The last three years were hard. She had to retire in 2009 and it just went downhill from there. The last six months were even harder on us all. She had falls and broke bones and hurt herself, yet she struggled to remain independent. She still managed to dress herself, but couldn't cook or manage her money or do the many other things she had done as an independent woman. There were bathroom issues...I was doing laundry constantly.

 

I have guilt that I didn't do enough. That I snapped when I shouldn't have. That I should have taken her out more even though it was so very hard to do. I should have talked more to her and I should have listened more. I have so many regrets and it is all about wishing I had done more on so many levels. Everyone tells me I did all I could do. I still had her at home, I had home health coming to help bathe her, a nurse coming to check on her, and on and on and on. Inside though, I know I should have done more, or done it with a kinder heart. Not been in such a hurry even though I was also trying to juggle a husband and four kids, one of whom is special needs and requires his own list of needs. I should have smiled at her more and hugged her more. I know she loved me and I know she knows I loved her, but the last few months had been so hard. She had said ugly things sometimes that would never have come out of her mouth before this awful disease. I tried to rise above, but I am human too.

 

If you had pushed me I would have said she had another 3-5 years left to live. She saw both her neurologist and primary care doctors just two weeks before she died. The neurologist had warned me she would have to be placed soon, that she could go on in her slow decline for years. The pc doctor was pleased with all her blood results (she had diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.) saying that while they weren't good they were holding steady. I felt like I was on this ride for the long haul, playing so many scenarios over and over in my head. How much longer I could keep her at home, if I was going to have to get a wheel chair, and on and on. Felt like my thoughts never stopped. I kept thinking to myself if I only knew when she would die and how much longer this was going to last. If only, if only...

 

Then on a Saturday in Sept. I walked into her room and found her dead on the floor. Death is not pretty and neat. I honestly don't remember my first thought as I took in the fact she was gone. Had I even told her I loved her the night before? What were my last words to her? For something so momentus and earth shaking as my Mom's death, I should know. I should have known it was coming. I should have been more attentive. They say it was a heart attack. I know she died where she wanted...at home. She was very vocal about never going to a NH. I have nightmares that she laid on that floor and couldn't call out. That she laid there in pain and scared and I didn't know. Why didn't I know?? I should have sensed something was wrong...I should have gone in her room sooner. What if she hurt and couldn't let us know? The coroner and a friend who is a nurse say the heart attack was probably instant...that she never knew. In my moments, in order to keep my sanity, I try to believe that too. It is almost like I am trying to punish myself because I feel like I didn't do enough.

 

I have made it through the first Thanksgiving and Christmas, and also through what would have been her birthday. I am a person who always keeps track of dates so I can't help but keep track in my mind.

 

I didn't mean to vent so long. If you are like me when I read posts, if something I am reading is what I am experiencing, or sounds like how I feel I will keep reading till the end. It is just so hard to go on like normal. As I said before, people expect me to be ok already. To be done with talking about her and the situation.

 

The best way I have heard it described is it is like an ambush of grief. You may go along fine for a few days and then something triggers it and you are right back where you were at the moment of impact. You may go days without tears and then you will spend a whole day doing nothing but wiping your eyes. One day pictures of her may bring comfort and then the next it is like your heart is being ripped out.

 

Ambush of grief...I am ready for you to go away. I am ready for the guilt to go away. I want to remember the good times with my Mom. Really though, I just wish for one more day for her to be here. I wouldn't wish her back for years of suffering and pain and unhappiness, but one more day to hug her and kiss her and tell her I loved her and thank her for everything she ever did for me. One more day for her grandkids to hear her stories or for all of us to ask those questions that my kids seem to ask more and more of since her passing, and my only answer is "I don't know. I was just a kid. Grandma would know."

 

Oh, for just one more day.


KML
Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 6:01 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


Lainey:

 

I am so glad you posted your feelings here.  I want to tell you, parts of what you've written I could have written, and I think others who come here, will share many if not all of your feelings. 

 

We all feel, we could have done more, should have done more, would have done more... and we might have if we were super human.

 

I do re-live over and over my father's last two weeks of his life, I had no idea, his end was coming until it was too late for even hospice to offer him comfort.  I thought I was right on top of everything, calling doctors, calling nurse practitioner, talking to the care staff.  Not one of them either had any idea his death was coming.

 

I beat myself up, too, for not being patient enough.  Truth is, we did care, we did love them a lot, but we were also trying to cover so much ground and we cannot be perfect.  We did the best we could.  Sometimes even our best cannot prevent what is happening, some things are totally out of our control, as this was.

 

As far as people expecting you to move on, I'm finding that, too.  After the funeral, everyone else gets back to their life, and we are left to pick up.  Don't let anyone rush you, four months is not long at all.  It is still very fresh and new and there is no time frame for grief. 

 

My dad has been gone for eight months ago and I keep saying that it just doesn't feel like eight months, it feels like just weeks to me.

 

I did read a book that I found helpful and it's called On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kulber-Ross.  I would recommend it to you.  What struck me most, everything she wrote about seemed to apply to me which made me feel better because I know she didn't write the book just for me, she wrote for everyone she ever spoke with and met and researched, and we all have these common feelings after the loss of a loved one.  It made me feel normal in my thoughts and feelings and I think you just may find it very helpful to you.

 

It's good to keep sharing your feelings, there are support groups for grieving and there's this forum, talking to people who have been through the same things is very helpful.  You take care of yourself, your mom knows you did your very best and she is thankful to you and loves you.


sunnysideup
Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 6:53 PM
Joined: 2/19/2012
Posts: 96


Yes they are ambushes of grief like rolling waves of sudden weeping. I could have written most of what you said. I was my mom's first baby and we had a special bond. As we got older and I became her caregiver we became good friends also. There wasn't anything I couldn't discuss with her. Even with the dementia when she could no longer offer anything but a listening ear. Now I have noone like that.

 

So many of us live with the what ifs and whys. I was there for my mom for the past 6 yrs and like you thought she had a few more years to go. I was working on a plan for her after her hip rehab stay. That was not to be. I was also told my mom passed quickly in her sleep and she went peacefully. I want to hold on to that thought.

 

Books are a great source of healing. We all want one more day and there is actually a book entitled "for one more day" by Mitch Albom.  Plot is a man who has no luck in life and wants to spend another day with his deceased mom to apologize for not being there when she died. Excellent read.

 

I think there is no timeframe on grief. In my family, the others seem to handling this loss very well. They don't want to talk about her or dwell on her death. Where do you put these feelings when they can't be expressed verbally. You write them down in a journal and come here to be heard and comforted by others that feel as we do. Hurt and grieving still..

 

diana


deb97
Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 6:54 PM
Joined: 8/7/2012
Posts: 218


Wow!  I'm going through the same thing.  Mom's been gone five months now and I keep beating myself up.  I keep replaying everything and analyzing all of it.

 

Should have and could have and would have - why do many of us seem to think the same way.  I had no idea grief would be like this. 

 

Why hadn't I ever heard that losing someone you love can make you feel so guilty.  I don't get it. 

 

Sending hugs your way, Lainey.

 

Deb


deb97
Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 7:01 PM
Joined: 8/7/2012
Posts: 218


P.S.  as Diana said about journaling.  I do believe that helps.  The first few weeks I was doubling over with guilt, that I hadn't taken mom out enough or to enough places, or to the beach, etc.  Finally one day, I wrote a list of each time we did something or went somewhere over the last two years while she was living near me so I could help her.   The list was very long and when I finished it, it was light a huge weight off my shoulders.  I even have a picture of mom eating a  hot fudge sundae at the Dairy Queen just a month and a half before she passed.

 

Perhaps you could try journaling or just writing up a list of the "positives".  Might make you feel a little better.  Sounds to me like you did a great job.  Most importantly, your mom knew you were there for her and loved her.

 

Deb


dj okay
Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 8:26 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 1840


Dear Lainey,

 

I don't have a lot of time to address every aspect of your post, but I did read through it all.  I understand how you feel and I've felt a lot of it myself.

 

I'd like to recommend a book I read towards the end of my mother's life.  It's called Coping with Alzheimer's - A Caregiver's Emotional Survival Guide.  It covers not only the emotions we go through as caregivers while they are alive, but after they are gone as well.  I found it very helpful.  I hope you do, too.

 

Grief will take time.  That's it.  Others that seem to feel you need to move on have never experienced this level of grief.  Those that have know it takes more than four months.


We are here.  It's been 5 for me and I still get ambushed once in a while.

 

Hugs!


MLB61
Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 6:40 AM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 726


Oh, Lainey -- A lot of what you wrote could apply to me as well.  I have regrets.  I wonder if I did the right things for my parents.  Did I make the right decisions?  But, I know that I did the best that I could.  You did the best that you could for your mother. Deep down in her heart, she knew that.  She was so very lucky to have you and your family surrounding her.  

 

Ah, yes, the ambush of grief is a good way to put it.  Some days I am just fine.  Then I'll have a few days when I get weepy.  It's been about 8 months.  People don't ask me about them any more. I like to talk about them. If I mention them, I find that people will talk about them.  I think they don't want to mention them because they don't want to make me feel bad.

 

Hugs to you...


KML
Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 10:37 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


I like the idea of journaling the positives about what we did for our loved ones.  What I've been doing is dwelling on what I feel I didn't do enough of.  I know the positives are there, I just have to concentrate on those.  I think this will be very helpful to me.   Thank you for the great suggestion.
Lainey
Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:40 PM
Joined: 5/14/2012
Posts: 20


Thank you to all of you that took the time to read and respond. I know I am not the only one to feel this way, but it is always nice to have that confirmed. Some days you just feel overwhelmed and it is nice to have a place to go to and have people that understand.

 

Thanks for the recommended reads too. I will have to check those out.

 


dayn2nite
Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 10:27 PM
Joined: 12/18/2011
Posts: 3097


The ambush came for me tonight.  To put it in context, my mom and I loved the Detroit Pistons (basketball) and there was a game tonight.  Just before the game they announced a trade of 2 of our guys to the Memphis Grizzlies.  I was fine at first, looking forward to seeing the new guy coming, but then I realized one of the 2 traded today was my mom's favorite player.

 

So she's gone....and now he's gone.  Sounds stupid but this is hitting me like New Year's Day...everything is just moving on.


Lainey
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:10 AM
Joined: 5/14/2012
Posts: 20


I so know what you mean. Things that would be meaningless to other people can throw me for a loop as the grief just covers me up.

 

My Mom LOVED the show NCIS, and when a new episode comes on and something happens that I know she would have loved to see happen, it just makes me sad. Another thing is my Mom was an avid reader. Even at the end she read all the time. When I see a new book come out by one of her favorite authors my first thought is how excited she would have been to get that new book.

 

I know there are many more important things that she is no longer here for, major life events like weddings and births and graduations, but there is something particularly poignant in all the "little, everyday" things that you realize they are missing now.


KML
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:50 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


I know how you are feeling.  My sadness comes from not being able to share the things we enjoyed together.

 

I want to believe  that our loved ones are aware of all things they enjoyed and loved even though they have passed.  This is my interpretation of heaven, they are still listening to their favorite music, they are still reading a new book, they are still watching their favorite games and players, they are sitting in the sunshine and everything wonderful and beautiful is still surrounding them.  And they get go enjoy all of these things and moments eternally. 

 

So, we can enjoy the things we shared with them, they may not be by our side physically, but their spirit is and when we enjoy, maybe we can know they are enjoying, too, and we are still sharing the special things with them.  On a good day, that's what I want to believe.


dayn2nite
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 2:22 PM
Joined: 12/18/2011
Posts: 3097


Thanks guys....yes it is the everyday things.

 

I still go to basketball games.  Sometimes during the game I'll look at an area of the arena we sat before and then I have to look away or I'll cry.

 

About a week before she died, I had a Pistons T-shirt on when I went to have lunch with her.  She stared at the shirt and then reached out and grabbed the word PISTONS that was embroidered across the chest.  She still knew what it was.


MLB61
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 2:34 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 726


@KML -- Nicely said!
Cloud
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:22 PM
Joined: 1/18/2013
Posts: 13


Thank you for these posts.  I thought I was forgiving myself for breaking down the last two weeks of husband's life on earth especially.  Then a friend asked me exactly how the surgery failed, just for information's sake, and I broke down.  If only I could have a few more precious moments, if only I could have a second chance!  I do believe my husband is with me spiritually, that he does understand and think there is nothing to forgive.  But there is a place where I can do something different:  with the people here in the present.  I am trying to call them more, be kinder to them.  Am struggling with how to be gentler with myself.  God Bless You All for Being Here.  I am Cloudvacation.
KML
Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 4:24 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


Cloud:

 

I've been thinking along the same lines as you for a long time.  I've been struggling for forgiving myself for not being perfect in my care of my dad.  I took care of my dad in one form or another for 13 years, the last five years of his life more intensely, more was required.  The last two months of his life as he was declining, everything became harder, last two weeks, very very difficult.  It was during these last two weeks of his life that I started to break down, as well, losing patience not so much with him, he couldn't help it, it was fear that things were spiraling out of control for him and everything I tried to do for him, just wasn't helping.  We both lost patience with each other because we were both frustrated with the situation of not knowing what was wrong with him and how to take care of it and we couldn't stop it, neither one of us realized his end was coming, no one did, not the three doctors I took him to, not his nurse practitioner, not the caregivers, not my sibling.

 

It was in these last two weeks, my daughter was also diagnosed with cancer, to say I was a wreck is to say the least, my dad was slipping away and I was trying to hold on to both him and my daughter.

 

Out of the 13 years I spent doing things for my father and stepping up his care as time went along, it was these last two weeks of his life that I measured my worth as a person, as a daughter, as a caregiver.  I beat myself up and have done so since his death 8 months ago.  I'm trying not to do this any longer.

 

Someone here suggested writing down a list of all the good you did for your loved one.  I think that is a great idea and I suspect very strongly, the list will be a lot longer on the "did good side".

 

Not one of us is perfect and we all would have something on both sides of our lists, but I'm very sure, the "good side of the list" will by far, be longer than the "not good side". 

 

I want us to release ourselves from our doubts, from our feelings of guilt, because there really isn't foundation for it.  We're human, and we did the best we could.  I wish you peace.


Oceanbum
Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 4:47 PM
Joined: 3/11/2012
Posts: 433


My Mom's been gone 7 months now. Wow! That's hard to believe. In some ways it seems like only yesterday and others it seems like forever. When she first passed away I thought I had no regrets. We had a wonderful relationship. We were best friends. Everybody who knew us knew that. We were as close as any mother and daughter could be. But as time has passed I have started to think why didn't I do this, if only I had done that, I should have done this or that. I've been beating myself up over little things that are probably insignicant. She knew I loved her. I guess the thing that bothers me the most is her last day. I had stayed by her side at the nursing home day and night. I had little to no sleep for 2 and 1/2 days. Finally on Friday morning my aunt convinced me and my brother to go home for a shower and a nap. That's when she passed away. I had promised her I would be there and I wasn't. I just feel so much guilt for breaking the one promise to her that I felt was probably the most important promise I ever made her. She was ALWAYS there for me and this one time I wasn't there for her. It breaks my heart to just think about it.
dj okay
Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 5:37 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 1840


Dear Oceanbum,

 

Don't feel you failed your mother by not being there.  She probably wanted it that way.  We can't always predict, nor can the professionals, when they will leave this world.  So you couldn't have known, but many say that the dying often choose when to die, in order to protect their loved ones or sometimes to wait until they arrive.

 

We had a good friend years back that died from ALS.  His children were scattered all over the states.   He died about 1/2 hour after the last one arrived.  With all his children there and his wife by his side.

 

Other folks tell many stories of staying day and night by the bedside, only to have the patient pass when then went down the hall to the bathroon.

 

Please don't let this haunt you.  You were a wonderful daughter and your mother knew how much you loved her.

 

Hugs!


KML
Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 5:42 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


Nope, Oceanbum, don't go there.  What counts is that you were there for all of the time, caring, loving, doing all that you could for your mom.  Your mom knew this, she felt this.  I've heard our loved ones will choose when to go, think of it this way, your mom left maybe because she wanted to spare you, sometimes they feel they have to hold on because of us.  When a person feels loved, truly loved, Oceanbum, they always feel this from you, no matter if you are in the room or not.  She left with the feeling of complete love from you and for you.  I have no doubt about that.  She's looking down at you and saying, thank you for taking care of me and loving me.  As one poster put it to me when I was feeling this way, "they're are not looking down on you and saying why did you go home."  Nope, she's saying how lucky I am to have a wonderful loving daughter.
MLB61
Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013 6:29 AM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 726


Oceanbum -- I also feel guilty that I wasn't there at the end for either my mom or dad. I think I feel worse about it as the time has gone by.  It's been about 8 months.  This thread has been very helpful to me.  I need to remind myself that they knew in their hearts that I was there for them when they truly needed me.  I did the best that I could.  You did the best that you could. Your mom knew that.
Oceanbum
Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013 9:14 AM
Joined: 3/11/2012
Posts: 433


I know you guys are all right. Mom knew I loved her. There's no doubt about that. Just like I know she loved me.

 

But if Mom were here I know she would look at me right now, point her finger at me and say "Enough!" just like she did when me and my brothers were fighting. And in a weird way, that makes me smile.


Cloud
Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013 12:21 AM
Joined: 1/18/2013
Posts: 13


This is a beautiful, helpful thread.  God Bless Us All.  Thank you. 

 

 


Lainey
Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 7:18 PM
Joined: 5/14/2012
Posts: 20


@KML ~ True words that you spoke. I think, no matter how long we have cared for our loved one, no matter how much kindness, love and patience we have shown that perhaps it is human nature for us to focus in on the negatives after they are gone. Those times when we lost our patience, said an unkind word and just generally didn't handle things as well as we should. My Mom lived with us and was a part of our lives for over twenty years. We shared our lives with her...vacations, kids birthday parties, holidays. You name it, my Mom was there. She was ours. Yet when that person begins to falter we do everything we can. However, we are human and we get tired too. We have bad days. We lose our cool and say things we shouldn't. We can't take back the words that were said that wounded one another. It is so easy to look back with perfect 20/20 vision and say "I should have done...I should have said..." etc.

 

Maybe peace comes when we can stop beating ourselves up for things that were beyond our control. I am four months out from my Mom's death, and I am not there by a long shot...at this point I am holding on to the hope that everyone is right and it will get better with time.