Author Topic: stuck in ahard cold dark place  (Read 160 times)

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Offline am

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stuck in ahard cold dark place
« on: February 04, 2020, 11:30:19 AM »
hello,iam struggling over three months now after a terrible death for my mum,i put my life on hold last year to be there for her then nurse  her when in february she told me she was terminally ill,her lungs were going to die bit by bit and there was nothing they could do for her.Really I have been struggling since august last year more and more as the months went by and the illness took everything from her ,she was down to just over five stone by then and any  effort was hard for her,so she was bed ridden. I have all the usual pain and sorrow from grief but the thing that is really tormentimg me is flashbacks and a recurring nightmare of the day she left us ,supposedly she should have gone peacefully they kept saying,they even had injections in the house so the palliative care could make it peaceful but when it did come it was awful and none of that happened,mum died in front of me choking and gasping for any last bit of air and I am in such terrible pain and despair about it,i try and I try to find a way to get over this but it wakens me from my sleep,its there in the day ,its there and that's it and I don't know what to do to get through this ,they say talk to someone,its mum I talked to ,my dr I talked to ,she sat blankly saying nothing,useless,iasked for help at the hospice ,they sent me to a counsellor ,I had hopes that this might help,,wrong ,from the start she will not discuss my mums illness ,her passing,my torment ,one day in talking about feeling guilty when I was feeling ill myself or too tired to go over to mum and my sister was there instead I got told guilt is a self imposed feeling????,I haven't been back there,bereavement support just another myth in my life.

Offline Sandra61

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2020, 10:14:34 AM »
Hello, I am so sorry to hear about the pain you find yourself in over the traumatic loss of your mum. Sending you a welcome hug.  :hug:
I understand why you feel as you do. Even when the passing is a painless and calm event, you still keep reliving those moments in your mind for months, even years afterwards. I still remember my dad's passing and he died over 30 years ago. Mercifully for him, it was quick. His heart failed suddenly following two heart attacks in previous months. It was less sufferable for my mum, who I lost in October 2017. She suffered a massive bleed on the brain due to her medication not having been monitored when it should have been. The drugs interacted and the doctors had not expected that to happen and it caused the bleed, effectively a massive stroke. That happened in September. She spent the following six weeks or so in hospital and died there. It was six weeks of hell and there was nothing I could do to help her. Towards the end I stayed with her in the hospital over night as well as during the day, only going home for a few hours to sleep while my brother took over staying with her. What upset me was that she would develop fluid in her throat that had to be cleared for her and the nurses did not check on her often enough to notice when she was struggling with this herself, so I had to stay to be able to call someone when she needed help. Also they did another nasty test on her when they already knew she was dying. I couldn't see the point. She finally passed away shortly after I had left to go home exhausted after an 18 hour stint at her bedside. I intended to sleep for a couple of hours and then go back, but received a call to say I should go back, but she passed away just before I got there. So I understand a little of what you are going through.

The memory of those awful weeks are what I tend to think of as the hospital horror and I remember my instinctive feeling when I got back to the hospital just after she had passed away was one of relief for her. At least she wasn't suffering anymore. That made me feel better. I had hoped to get her home before she died, so that she could be in her own bed, as she had wanted and not in a hospital, but that wasn't to be. I still feel guilty about that, because it was what she wanted, but I couldn't make it happen for her. She was too weak and ill. Like you, I could see no other image in my mind for months after except the images of all that happened in the hospital and even now, I avoid driving past it or along any road where I can see it. I never want to go there again and hope I never have to.

I am so sorry that counselling did not work out for you. I would have thought that would have been something that might help you, but as it has not, then I will tell you instead what has helped me the most and perhaps you can try some of those things. I made an album of photos of my mum, so that I could look at images of her in happier times and visited places we had spent happy times in together. That did make me sad as I was revisiting them without her, but it also brought back happier memories of her and it made me smile to think of the times we spent together. I made sure I had flowers around for a long time at home, as they somehow helped me. They were something lovely to look at when I was sad or seeing the horrid memories in my mind. Their beauty and scent also reminded me that there were still good things in the world. I took walks in the park for similar reasons. and found that a calming and peaceful place to sit to try to absorb and come to terms with all that had happened and time spent there, sitting on a bench, looking at the grass and the trees and just thinking helped me too. It also helped to see all the benches others had placed there with inscriptions in memory of those they had lost and of whom they had memories of having spent time with there. It reminded me that love never dies and I found many of them had flowers left on them at Christmas, presumably by those who still remembered them and thought of them at that time of year.

What helped me most perhaps was to write down an account of what happened to my mum and how I felt about it and all the things  that had upset me about it and how I felt about it all. I also wrote some poems about her and about how I was feeling and that seemed to somehow help me get those feelings out of my system. The sadness and the pain have not left me, but they have dulled over time and I have come to accept that what happened happened and I can't change it, but also, I have come to understand that those weeks, horrible and painful and so full of tears, were really only a short spell in my mum's life and made up only a tiny part of it, with the majority having been so much happier and having contained hard times and better times, and so much laughter and love too. That's what you have to focus on; the fact that your lost loved one's life was much more than just the end of it and however hard and terrible that was, they are at peace now and will be somewhere where they are no longer in pain or distress and that when we see them again, we will need to have new experiences to have to talk about with them and happier times.

I cried and despaired for months after I lost my mum and a big part of that was due to the fact that I found it hard to dispel those hospital horror weeks from my consciousness, but that was driving me into depression and  about six months after I lost her, I hit rock bottom and was aware that I was sliding into depression and had to help myself try to avoid that or I might never find my way out of it again. I found grief overwhelming and exhausting and felt I needed to find a way to take a break from it in order to survive it. I decided to join a class in a subject both my mum and I had been interested in and that helped enormously. It made me get out of the house and focus on something else for a couple of hours a week and engage with life and with others again. I made some lovely new friends there and they have been a huge help to me too. Two years on, I still look forward to going each week and still find it is helping me alot and because it was something my mum enjoyed too, I feel she would be pleased and that I am doing it for both of us. I have also made a little list of things I would like to do before I have to leave too and that gives me a few goals to aim for and something to look forward to.

It took me a while, but I realised that my mum would want me to be happy and to enjoy my life. She did her best to do that when she was here and she was fighter and never gave up, so I strive now to be like that. I Know it is what she would want for me, but she isn't here to make that happen for me anymore, so now i have to do it for her and for myself and hopefully, when we do meet again, I will have lots of happy things to tell her about. She was a great one for making life the best it can be, so I feel I owe it to her to try to do that for myself too and so do you.

In my experience, grief is a monster that will eat you up and make you a slave to it, if you let it. Combatting its horrible effects is a matter of self-help. No one will help you like yourself. It isn't easy or quick and takes a long time before it starts to feel any better, but it does start to feel better and slowly, you find that although there may still be bad days, there are better ones as well. You have to keep trying to find things that help you, little strategies that you can use to help yourself feel better and use to replace the nightmare memories with better ones. Your mum's life was more than the end of it and that is what you have to cling to. My mum had ill health all her life and went through a lot of suffering, but strove to inject a lot of happiness into it as well and so must we. Life is for living and in her memory, I am trying to make it as good as I can and you should too. It is hard to move forward from such terrible events, but move forward we all must and we don't leave our loved ones behind. We are who we are because of them and we still hear them in our hearts and minds when we need their advice. They never leave us because we carry them and our love and memories of them in our hearts always and always will. The good and the bad memories stay with us, yes, but we have to learn to adapt to this new life without them and can only be grateful for the gift of their presence for the time they were with us and learn to accept that they have moved on to the next phase of their existence now without us and we must rebuild our lives anew now too. Our love for them will always be there, but we have to accept their passing and learn to focus on the happy memories they left us. After all, we can't change what happened towards the end, only take comfort from the fact that they are not suffering anymore.

Try to find those strategies that help you and find ways to bring back the good memories and find new things to do to distract you from the bad memories and help you focus on the future and slowly, you will find your way forward. Wishing you well.  :hug: :hearts:

Offline am

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2020, 04:39:27 PM »
Thanks for your reply, I feel for you and what happened to your mum, I don't know how I did it, traveling every day to mum on the bus or train from Feb to Oct when she left us,as the months went on and she could breathe less and less and needed everything done for her, it's been so hard to watch her go worse and worse, she should have been in the hospice but was stubborn and wanted to be at home but from August it was really tough,then I had to get home to see to my husband from work and tea for him, constant worry, sleeping disrupted thinking, the medical side wasn't great and more help was needed, the day she died I was over on the early work train, she was so bad, I will never get her face out of my memory, when the nurse came in she decided to wash her, they should just have let her be in peace, there's no doubt she was going that day, next thing nurse wants a sheet, the effort of the movement with all this was too much,my mother's face was sheer panic, she went a few seconds later in great disress, I feel so angry at the nurse.I tell myself everything you say, maybe some day it will take effect as there's nothing I could have done.maybe I will believe that yet, my sister who lives far away had been up helping and she says I have to let it go, she has put it in a box and away, I wish I could.Its not over now mum is gone, dad in his eighties is a worry and keeping me going, only today fell in the early morning and cut his head, got stitches.I can't write anymore right now, I get overwhelmed with it all and have been but thanks for your reply

Offline Sandra61

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 12:43:37 PM »
We all react to grief in different ways. There is no right or wrong way and perhaps 'putting it in a box and away' works for your sister, but would not for you. It wouldn't have worked for me either. I don't think you can 'let go'. I don't think I ever have yet and I don't expect to. Your mum has been there all your life and largely made you the person you are, so how can you just let go? I couldn't, nor would I want to. My mum will always be in my thoughts and in my heart and my life now is lived to pay tribute to all that effort she put in on my behalf. I have to make it the best it can be to honour her memory and be as she would want me to be; as happy and safe as I can and with a life that is the best I can make it , for both my wonderful parents.

You still have your dad and although, given his age, that is a worry, he is still with you, so make the most of the time you have with him and do whatever you need to do to make him as safe and cared for as you can or as he will let you. The best advice I can give is that you do all you can to enable you to say to yourself, once he is gone, that you did all you could and have no regrets and nothing to feel guilty about. You will, of course, always find something to feel guilty about, as you are doing in regards to your mum now, but you have to look at it that you did the best you could with how things were at the time and that is all any of us can do. We can't see into the future and we are struggling with the pain of impending loss and the fear of that too, so we are operating under huge stresses and just trying to do what's best. The nurse will have been doing the same. She will have been following her training and perhaps that blinded her to best option at the time or perhaps she didn't realise how weak your mum was and was just focussing on trying to make her more comfortable. The nurses were doing the same things for my mum when I left to go home and rest. It's how they are trained, so they follow that training. Perhaps it is not always the best thing in retrospect, but we can all find things we have done that we feel we could have done better or differently, looking back. We do the best we can with the information we have at the time and can do no more, so don't beat yourself up about it. You did your best for your mum. You did better than me. You got her home. I didn't manage to do that and wish I could have, but the journey would have killed her.

What happened to your mum sounds horrible,but you didn't know that would happen and you thought the nurse was trying to make her more comfortable, which she was. We can't always see into the future to see what is coming and events overwhelm us. This sounds like one of those unfortunate situations. All you can do now, is be glad that your mum is at peace now and try to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that although her passing was not as you would have wanted it to be,you were doing your best to make it that way for her. What happened was not your fault, just one of those cruel twists of fate. It happened and you can't change it. You can accept and learn to live with it. It was a few moments in what I hope was a good life for your mum. The end of life is never easy or pleasant,but it is always only a small part of that person's life and not the sum of it. Stop blaming yourself and honour your mum's memory by trying to shift the focus from that to the better times in her life and all the good memories she left you. Isn't that what she would want?

All best wishes. Sandra  :hearts: :hug:

Offline am

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2020, 12:58:28 PM »
I thank you for being there Sandra, you are right what you say and I am trying hard to let go of the end, it's the way it happened, I just think about what she must have been thinking and she couldn't even talk that day, but you are right, the rest of her life she made a good life for herself and she was happy till she got told last year what she had, I have been thinking about it a lot as you can expect and the previous year my husband and I spent a lot of quality time with my parents,my husband called her mum also as his wasn't around for him.Its been very difficult as my father's bereft without her and I have been supporting him as much as I can, all of this has made me really ill, but we're doing for dad what we did before and having time with him, I don't know if he will be here the year and I am aware of that and that's upsetting on top of things, I always try to do my best and will do that as long as I can.sometimes I feel it's too much on me and I have no support so I am grateful to you for yours

Offline Sandra61

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2020, 07:50:25 PM »
We'll be here for as long as you need us.  :hug: I think you are right. You start to grieve before the loss actually happens and dread the day. That's how I felt about my mum too for the last weeks she spent in hospital. I often wondered in those last years how I could bear it all. It seems that you feel there is no more you can bear and then something else happens to increase your load. You just keep going, because you must and somehow, from God knows where, you find the strength.

It is good that you do at least have your husband to help support you. I hope that helps. Focus on those good memories of the time you spent with your mum before she got ill. You were lucky to have that quality time. At least you can be glad you had that.

Sending you strength and support.  :hug:

Offline am

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2020, 09:18:35 AM »
Yes I did that with mum, since I knew it was terminal,we had three"false alarms" in the last six weeks and I had to stand in a train queue breaking up inside going home in the evening, I have my own health problems and I had to be doing it all by train or bus to theirs, I don't know how I did it, the bus there is only one either way and totally unreliable and the train is further to walk from at their end and I had a young dog barely trained to leave for a while, three hours was the limit, I had to carry food as I am gluten free so it was very difficult.My IBS is totally still out of control four months on.And like you say, it just doesn't stop, it's carried on with dad, I have never seen him cry and now I don't see him not crying, and he has had offers of bereavement support from three quarters and refused them and has been talking to me, it's been breaking my heart and it would have been better if he had said a lot of them to someone else because I haven't had anyone and it's added to my pain, but I just listen without reply sometimes,if it's helping him.The first two months early every morning my phone would ring and I had my crying father and it's been terrible.Last week I had to rush over on morning train and by the time I half ran there out of breath, because he fell getting out of bed and cut his head,had to get Dr and he got stitches.I don't know how I keep going, I am having a bad day, I feel lost and empty.

Offline Sandra61

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2020, 09:57:19 AM »
It's still early days for you all and I am sorry your dad leaning on you so heavily is increasing the strain on you, but it will get better in time.

After my dad died, my mum wanted to talk about him and it was too painful for me to bear, so I feel I let her down at that time. You are being a better daughter than I was then.

As I have said, coming to terms with loss is a long slow business and largely a matter of self help. Perhaps you could suggest to your dad that you do something to help you both cope with it? You could look at some old photos and make an album of your favorites. Perhaps that would help him to remember the good times he had with your mum and help him to shift his focus and remember that he had a lot of good years with her. Or you could put memory boxes together for you both.

You will probably have to help him decide what to do with some of her stuff at some point, but I wouldn't try to do that yet. In my own experience, it takes time to be ready to do that.

Maybe you could also make him some of her favorite meals to help make sure he eats and drinks. Sometimes doing things like that spark memories of things that happened or take him somewhere where you have happy memories of having spent time with your mum. All these things can jog the better memories back into focus and help dispel the ones of her last weeks. They all aid your recovery and you both need that. Maybe consider some of these and give something a try.

I don't think counselling always helps that much. WHo wants to relive the worst weeks of their lives and focus on the misery they have left you with? I am sure it can help some people, but I don't think it would have helped me.

Keep going, it will get better, but it's a bit soon for that yet, sadly.  :hearts: :hug:

Offline am

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2020, 11:57:25 AM »
Hello, I have been making soup etc and taking it over and every weekend we have been going to places she liked and I will make a small comment about mum and there, I don't think he's the type to do a scrapbook or box, he's been pouring over old black and white photos of when they first met and she had changed a lot since then, I gave him a copy of my last photo of her four months before she left, I needed to do that because he had to come back to the present.Its incredibly hard because I never get asked how I am, it's like I am some "superwoman"person which I definitely am not.I would just say to you that you were a good daughter and you did your best so don't feel that you weren't.I keep telling myself you can't do better than your best and I did my best,my mum was scared and she wouldn't talk, I used to say to her do you want to talk and she would say no, she used to stare out the bedroom window and I sat there for hours just with her, I could hardly swallow some days, twice as it got nearer she said she was scared.I had my 60th a month before I lost her.We had a false alarm the day before, looking like she was going but she came round.I haven't broached the subject of mum's things and everything is standing still in her empty room , she had been in a hospital bed so that's all that's gone,her red jacket still hangs on the hall peg, I don't know how long it's going to take to move any item.I suppose it is still early, only four months, I didn't find the counselor I got emphatic at all, one day I happened to say I felt bad, guilty,if I was too tired, feeling ill and asked my sister could she manage alone that day, counselor s comment, guilt is self imposed,????, sorry but didn't make sense or help.I stopped going,it was like this every time, very odd, thought she was about bereavement, anyway thanks for being there.

Offline Sandra61

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2020, 07:29:14 PM »
There's no rush in regard to her things, am. It's two years and four months now since I lost my mum and I only took her coat off the back of the door last week and even then, I only hung it in the wardrobe. I couldn't bring myself to consider getting rid of it. We left my dad's coat and umbrella hanging up where he put them for years after he died, and only eventually moved them once the moths started taking an interest! It's a link to the person we've lost, so you don't want to disturb that. Understandable.

I'm not surprised to hear your dad is spending time looking at his old photos of when he first got together with your mum. My mum liked to do that too and I think it's probably because those are the memories of when they were happiest and healthiest together and it feels like a safe space to be. When mum was nearing the end, I took in old photos for her and although she was too ill to look at them, I described them to her and commented on how she or dad looked in them and she did seem to enjoy the memories they evoked in her mind. I was glad I did that.

I'm sorry your dad isn't asking how you are, but not really surprised. I expect he is too lost in his own grief to be able to focus on anything else at the moment. It may not be the same, but we are here for you and will be for as long as you need us. Stay strong.  :hearts: :hug:

Offline Karena

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Re: stuck in ahard cold dark place
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2020, 02:13:25 PM »
 :hug:She isnt wrong guilt is self imposed but that hardly offers you any help does it -Thankfully my counselor was speaking from experience not a text book - what she said about guilt was turn it on its head. With my husband i felt guilty because when he had his second stroke i was away i was there every minute after the first but had left him in his daughters care to go to my daughters r wedding at the other side of the world because he insisted i went and got distressed when i said i was going to cancel  - i knew at the reception something was wrong changed my flight legged it 1000, kilometers to the airport got back a day early and as soon as i arrived back at his daughters i could see what had happened - he wanted to go home i said we would just go to the hospital first = he never made it home - guilt was eating me up - even though he insisted i went out there -but even more so that i denied him what was the last thing he asked of me which was to go home.- When you turn that on its head - it becomes what if i hadn't gone to the hospital - i would always have to live with not knowing if there was something they could have done -if he could have survived and i had just gone home - and in all of that negative guilt i had forgoten  about the way i had got back early and at least got to spend his last days with him - what if i had ignored the feeling something was wrong but i didnt. 
With my mum it was a different thing she stayed with us towards the end of her life but had been taken in to hospital the palliative care team had called us in during the second week in January and spoken about the things she wanted at the end of her life - the main one being to see her first great grandchild - who wasn't due for a few more months and they spoke as though that was a possibility. On the day she died a few days later we had gone to visit as we did every day but this time my other pregnant daughter was with us - it was snowing and my mum said we should go because she didn't want us to get stuck or have an accident - so we did we didn't have a clue we wouldn't see her alive again - i had just walked through the door when they rang to say she had died - i had left and she had died alone -even the staff were not expecting that so no-one was in the room with her and that felt so bad - and turning that on its head - maybe if i hadn't left when she said too, the snow would have caused an accident maybe her grandson would not have made it into the world at all. I also realized it was my stepdads birthday - she asked us what date it was when we were there -he was the love of her life and she had never really got over him dying -  so i know it sounds crazy but i know nurses who have said it happens a lot that  it seems as though they make a decision or somehow know themselves what is happening - and with my mum maybe she wanted to spare me because she knew what i had been through in the past watching some-one i loved die and that's why she sent me away - it would be typical of her - i am not saying it was the right decision but if it was her decision  i know she made it purely from love.

But that's all with  hindsight at the time i talked to her it felt as though whatever i had done was wrong - with my mum i had done as she asked and she died alone  and with keith i had not done what he asked and he hadn't died alone but not where he wanted to be - he never got to see his beloved dog again or the garden or any of the things he loved about our home.

This what guilt does - everyone here will have felt guilt about the loss of their loved one -but when you turn it upside down in your case, what use would you have been if you went and were too tired to cope what if that tiredness had lead you to maybe snap at some-one or say totally the wrong thing and cause more upset - heaven knows it can be tiring not just physically making those journeys trying to make as much time as you could  but because when you watch some-one go through that kind of illness you are in many ways already grieving but you are not allowed to grieve you're supposed to stay strong - and it all gets too much - forgive yourself for being human - and give yourself some credit for the way you are now caring for your dad - He may not ever say it but speaking as a widow myself i know he will appreciate it.
Maybe going through the old photos is exactly what he needs to do - if he is also having flashbacks of the time when she was ill maybe he needs to focus on better memory's of better times so he can replace the nightmare flashback images with much better ones it is giving him a tool to cope with that and sharing them with him will potentially help you with yours as well.