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Reply with quote  #1 
I lost my dad, at 93, about a year and a half ago. My mom is 86 and in an Assisted Living facility. She had a stroke 2 years ago that left her with weakness on her left side. In addition, she has extremely poor vision and is very hard of hearing. She also has some type of dementia, most likely caused by vascular issues. She had been doing OK but was recently hospitalized with pneumonia. Since her release, the decline in all areas has been significant. She needs help with everything and is now on oxygen. She's very confused about her surroundings and asks when she can go home. She is home...surrounded by her belongings. Today, she told me she didn't think she would ever get out of there. My heart broke! I'm sad every day and usually cry the whole way home after visiting. I don't know how to do this....balancing my desire to be with her with work, running my own household, spending time with my family, etc. I know she's getting excellent care at her facility....every one there loves her. It's just sad seeing the struggle. Life is hard! I know I'm not alone in these feelings...thanks for listening!
Reply with quote  #2 

I'm so sorry about your dad, and now your mom.  As you indicated, life is very hard, especially at the end. As a caregiver, it can be very challenging to grieve all the losses while you simultaneously are trying to take care of your loved ones and manage your own life.  I think we all wish that life would be neat and pleasant, but for most of us, life involves a fair share of suffering.  If caregiving has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that the end phase of life is usually painful and challenging.

I have heard that the key to finding peace at this stage is to accept that that life is going to be a struggle, and then seek to make those struggles "work" for you.  By "work for you", I mean take whatever positive elements you can find in the pain and let them help you grow and mature. 

If struggling is not something we can avoid, then maybe it is something we are actually supposed to have.  Maybe our struggles help us become better people.  Maybe our pain helps us evolve into more compassionate and humble souls. Maybe if we did not struggle, we would not notice those around us who are struggling. Maybe we would be self-absorbed and pleased that we were able to fashion such a lovely life for ourselves.

When you are in the middle of the pain, though, it's very hard to feel that suffering is useful.  Sometimes when my life gets out of control and my grief is very thick, I stop in my tracks and just sit with my emotions.  That often leads me to see what unmet needs I have. 

Sometimes I see that I need to give myself permission to not have all the answers.  Sometimes I need courage and support to keep going on.  Sometimes I need to trust that things are progressing as they are supposed to, even if I do not like them.  Sometimes I need to find a shoulder to cry on so I can release my own pain. 

No matter what, in the end, I think we have to accept that our loved ones' end of life journey is going to be challenging and sad, but that all these things can be used to prepare our loved ones (and ourselves) for the next phase of their journey.   This intellectual exercise may not alleviate our emotional pain, but it can give it a context in which to understand it and make peace with it.

Well, it is getting late here, and I fear I may be babbling, so please just know that others care and hope that you can find some relief and peace.


Posts: 12
Reply with quote  #3 

It's so important to be able to communicate with those who really understand what you are going through. Magicmom, you are doing the best that you can.


Splotchy, you are so articulate about this struggle and write about it so well. I hope one day you will consider writing a book about it. You could even gather all the compassionate responses you have made on this site as a beginning.

Yours, ~Laura in Oregon

Reply with quote  #4 
I don't want to hijack this thread, but thank you Laura for your kind words.  If I ever do write a book, the title will have to be, "Things That Other Wise, Smart People Taught Me." 

Reply with quote  #5 
Originally Posted by Splotchy
I don't want to hijack this thread, but thank you Laura for your kind words.  If I ever do write a book, the title will have to be, "Things That Other Wise, Smart People Taught Me." 

Reply with quote  #6 
Splotchy and Laura,

Thank you for your very kind and comforting words. While I would never wish this sadness on anyone else, it is helpful to know that others have also experienced this rollercoaster of emotions.

Splotchy, I agree with Laura, your insights are spot on and I agree with them wholeheartedly. I do believe that in the end, everything will work out exactly as it should. I try hard to find joy in each day with my mom but it's terribly sad watching as each day poses new struggles. I also believe that our journeys are intertwined and can't help but think her struggles are helping me to become a more patient, forgiving, stronger, compassionate human being.

Only God knows when He will lead her home. I am trying to accept this and use this time to give back to her, at least an ounce, of what she has given to whole life.

Prayers for all struggling with the pain of losing a loved one.
Reply with quote  #7 
I think it's totally normal to be grieving the way you are.  Grief is such a complicated thing. I think a lot of us, myself included, forget that grief is not just something we experience after someone passes; very often, and maybe sometimes more acutely, we feel grief before someone dies.  Unfortunately, very few people feel comfortable discussing active "grief" while someone is still alive.  It somehow feels odd. 

Grief can come from all kinds of losses......from one defined event or a series of small events that, in aggregate, add up to a lot of grief.  Some of the losses we witness and experience during our loved one's later years include:

-Their physical health and vitality
-The life they once had
-The relationships they once had
-The dreams they once had
-The activities and social life they used to enjoy
-The role they used to play in our lives
-The realization that the person they were their whole lives is now unable to really be that person
-Their memory
-Their security
-Their independence
-Their strength
-Our role (as daughter, friend, caregiver, etc.)

Even when we are happy to take care of them, the time we spend on their affairs often means that something else in our lives is being be sacrificed.   And if the dying person is challenging, sometimes we have to grieve the dream that a loving reconciliation is ever going to happen. In those relationships, grief often gets experienced in small slices spread over a whole lifetime.

I think many times, we are so busy and distracted, we don't even know that we are grieving.  If we can sit down and consciously acknowledge all the losses, it hits us that we are grieving.

If we can help you during this process, please vent away!  I also hope you will be kind to yourself.  
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