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Funeral today but cannot cry
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 4:14 AM
Joined: 6/9/2018
Posts: 63

Dad died on October 30 at age 90 after a very rough month. He had been residing in a VA medical foster home for 2 years, but had been bedridden and on morphine recently due to heart failure. I had seen the first signs of problems about 10 years ago, but he was not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until 2 1/2 years ago. Due to the emotional abuse he meted out to my mother and me over the years, I believe Dad had been dealing with some type of mental illness from a very young age, and his family was not very nice to him as well. I mourned the loss of a good relationship with my father years ago and, due to the advancing dementia, felt as if I lost my Dad quite some time ago. Funeral is today, and I find myself unable to even cry for his passing as it is a blessing he is no longer confused and struggling to breathe.

Mom, at 89, still lives in family home by herself (luckily close to me), so I still must check on her daily. She has some “age related” dementia but still is pretty sharp with her finances and manages to drive around town. Since Dad was a vet, I now must start the process of making certain Mom receives maximum benefits from the VA; I obtained 100% disability for Dad after 18 months, and his death was service connected due to heart failure.

Both of my in laws have dementia (FIL more so than MIL), so my husband and I are still dealing with them in a local Memory Care facility (FIL will walk out door in 5 seconds if he has a chance).

Should I be more upset? My best friend tells me that whatever I feel is correct, but somehow it seems as if I am missing something. My father’s behavior over the years robbed me of so much that I really do not wish to spend any more time dwelling on it. Plus, the thought of going through this whole process another 3 times with our remaining parents is daunting. My FIL is very advanced in his dementia (cannot even hold a conversation now), is sleeping more and more, and I believe he may not live but a few more months.

I can think of nothing worse than losing your memories of self and family. When 3 out of 4 parents have dementia, one must become the “adult” and put everything else aside as my husband and I have had to do (he is actually legal guardian to both of his parents). This task has consumed our life over the past 2 1/2 years, but we know it was the appropriate thing to do, even if it was the hardest thing we have ever done. Needless to say, our relationship has suffered as well, but we try to hang on as best we can.

Sorry for the rambling - to top off the week, I have a diagnostic mammogram this Friday for a possible breast lump. What else can happen to us???

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 5:57 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2217


I am sorry for your loss. Please accept that your dear BFF knows your situation and speaks the truth. Be gentle with yourself.

I felt vey much as you describe it when both my father and sister died. They were both challenged by mental health issues and challenging people to grow up with. Both of them died after a lengthy period of illness that was ugly and exhausting; dad from mixed dementia and my sister from complications of AIDS that included one of the very same dementias that took dad. By the time of their deaths, I was able to accept that they had done their best in life given the mental health issues they had and let go of the considerable hurt they caused me. I cried when my sister was initially diagnosed when AIDS, which was  then considered both shameful and 100% fatal, and a couple of times around dad's diagnosis because of the impact it would have on my mother. 

At both funerals I felt more like an observer than a participant and was stoic. At dad's it was surreal to be surrounded by my cousins and his students bawling their eyes out over a man who was a stranger to me. I ducked out of part of my sister's service to talk with my BFF while she fed me antipasti and cookies she made for me; she made the wry comment that we tailgated at my sister's funeral- it was what I needed at the time. Both of them left me work to do- to help raise my tween and teenaged nieces as a surrogate parent and now to help my mother who is frail and very alone. This has given me a focus beyond what I might be feeling otherwise.

Good luck with your diagnostic mammogram. I don't know if this applies to your situation, but I had a similar thing right after my dad died. I went in to catch up on all the self-care I'd put off and got flagged. It turned out that the resolution of the new imaging equipment picked up on something completely benign that possibly had always been there. When I went for the diagnostic mammo and u/s, the radiologist was able to read it immediately and tell me it was probably nothing. She scheduled me for a re-check at 6 months after which I am back to yearly screening mammos. I do hope your situation turns out as well. 

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 7:34 AM
Joined: 6/9/2018
Posts: 63

Thanks so much for sharing and the kind words. At least I know that what I am experiencing is not unusual. My focus now will be the care of my mother who lives alone. She actually does pretty good on her own, but is the type who will never call me if there is a problem since she does not wish to “bother” me! I am an only child so guess I feel the weight of this burden a bit more.

I am not overly concerned about the upcoming mammogram as I did have a biopsy in 2008, but it was nothing to be worried about. Fortunately, I was only a couple of months late on my regular check (since I get the tests annually without fail) so I least I do not feel as if it has gone on for an extraordinary amount of time. It will probably be as you had experienced, but it is just the time and monetary cost that is aggravating at this time.

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 8:36 AM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1602

Stress can cause any illness we have to be worse, so please take care of yourself, your marriage, your own family, your mom doesn't need your health as well

As for not being the "typical" greiever or what people seem to expect, don't worry about have been greieving already for years, so now is the time to try and embrace your hubby

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 9:59 AM
Joined: 6/12/2018
Posts: 27

My mother died 10 months ago at the age of 97 after 6 years with dementia.  My father and I always said that she had already suffered the first death when she was dealing with the dementia and we were just waiting for the physical death.....basically losing the shell of the person we knew.  I did not cry when she died or at her funeral and have not cried since.  The mother that I remember died years ago and I was already through that grieving process.  Yes, there are things I miss but I have not had them from her in 5 or more years.  The thing I knew during the whole process was that I had done all I could for her and have no regrets.  Hoping that you can look at your situation in a similar manner.  Good luck!
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 1:07 PM
Joined: 7/30/2018
Posts: 155

I can relate. My father had dementia (I think my mother had hidden it from us until she died) and he had had mental illness for I don't know how long (it hit the breaking point when I was 13).  As a result, I was not connected to the man who lived in my father's body, because the man I had known before the breaking point was mostly happy and interactive.  When he died, I couldn't cry.  It was like a stranger had died.  I felt really guilty, but came to realize, through therapy, that to cry and mourn means you loved that person.  I can see that if you had suffered from his mental illness, there might not be any real connection. Your feelings are your own, and no one should tell you how to feel.  You may, at a later date, mourn the fact that your relationship with him wasn't what you wanted, but you may not.  Give yourself a hug and say "I've done the best I can do." And move on to the next step, whatever that may be.


Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 2:05 PM
Joined: 6/9/2018
Posts: 63

Thanks so very much for all of the kind words and thoughts. It is true that I really did mourn my father years ago when his behavior turned bizarre and it became nearly impossible to talk to him with any meaningful conversation. Today went as well as could be expected, and Mom is really doing well too.

I am thankful the funeral is over, and now can concentrate on obtaining the maximum survivor benefits through the VA for my mother. Both my parents worked very hard all of their lives, and Mom should be ok but is not rich by any means. What I can obtain for her through the VA should make certain she does not have to worry about money.

I will take care of myself too. I am attempting to take more “breaks” and find joy in small things. It is very hard when we still have 3 parents, 2 of whom with Alzheimer’s still. It will still be a marathon, but we will do our best. Many have commended us for our care of all 4 of our parents, but we could not have lived with ourselves (my husband and me) if we had done any differently. We are the kind of people who stand up and take responsibility, and could not step aside to see our parents suffer or be preyed upon by others, even when those same parents accused us of abusing them. I am just grateful we lived in same city so as to make it all happen.

Back to my job tomorrow, which has actually been very understanding. Grateful to have this forum to vent. Thanks to everyone, even if you did not respond. Many times I just read posts in order to make it through the day.

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 12:31 PM
Joined: 7/17/2017
Posts: 403

I know I did have a delayed grief reaction.  On the day my Mother died, I met my son at the DMV and changed the car title to his name only, and then I fulfilled a volunteer shift at the Botanic Gardens. I was numb and did not really start "feeling" the grief for about a week, when I was making funeral arrangements, writing the obituary, and contemplating grave markers. I already had a plot arranged.  No one way is the "correct" way to grieve. I was in turmoil for a while; mixed emotions of relief, grief, disbelief, and regret.  It has been over a year since my Mom passed away, and I'm going to visit my father next week in New Mexico. I'm a bit frightened at what I might see and find out, but I know that I'm brave enough to handle whatever it may be.  He's on oxygen 24/7 and has a bit of memory loss, but he has a cleaning lady visit about twice a week, and I'm lucky that she texts and calls me to update me on how my Dad is doing.  

My deepest condolences go out to you at this time, and know that you are not alone in this "in-between" state with your parents; one has passed, and you're looking at the daunting task of needing to help out with the other parent now.  

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 2:32 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2647

There is no law that says you have to cry at a funeral.   Be grsteful for any numbness you feel.  For me, my mother's death was like the pulling of a thorn --immediate relief thst the suffering was over for everyone involved.  Know that you have done your grieving in small increments so the final moment comes as no shock.  Funerals are just to keep the bereaved family distracted from the worst of it anyway.  I didn't have one for my own mother, since there was no one left outside of me to care.  I did a simple cremation, and thanks to a death advocate mortician, I asked if I could be present and push the button on the machine that returned her body to the elements.  I felt like I had done my final duty.
Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 4:31 AM
Joined: 6/9/2018
Posts: 63

Thanks to everyone for sharing thoughts and experiences. I returned to my office yesterday, totally exhausted physically and emotionally. Mom has a medical procedure today so am off work for the day to assist her, so we will spend some time together starting on the VA forms for her survivor benefits.

I do have to say that in some ways Dad’s death is a relief, since I was always worried that he had adequate care and assistance from all involved. I have found a strength that I never thought I had. My husband and I never desired children so have remained childless, but this has been a small lesson in what it is like to have a child! I know we made the correct decision for us.

My in-laws are continuing to deteriorate rapidly in Memory Care. At least they have been in an excellent facility for the past 2 years. We feel so very fortunate that the care of our parents has not been traumatic due to lack of care or abuse, since it seems one hears horror stories about what can occur. I try to take these small items as proof that we have done well by all of our parents.

I go to my appointment on Friday for the diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. Whatever comes to it, I will deal with it. I have a fantastic surgeon who did my biopsy in 2008, so know I can call on her for excellent advice.

Hope everyone has a better day. I am looking forward to a bit more sleep over the weekend! 

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 6:48 PM
Joined: 4/10/2017
Posts: 278

No, you are entitled to "grieve" however.  No tears or NO GUILT.
Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 11:20 PM
Joined: 4/1/2014
Posts: 5080

Neuchatel, my condolences on the passing of your father. You may be numb to the grief by now because of all the little griefs you had during your father long illness. Caregivers for LO's with dementia grieve every time we work with our LO's.

Take care of yourself while you have a little reprieve, and I hope the testing will go well. Please keep us informed- we care!

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